Don't panic. This won't be another one of those posts you've probably read about how to love yourself. Repeat positive affirmations, say "I love you" while looking in the mirror, get a massage, etc.
There's nothing wrong with this basic kind of advice - it's a great introduction to self-care and it works well for some people. But ultimately, most of us know HOW to do those things. We know HOW to care for ourselves deep down. We just... don't. In truth, concepts like self-care and self-development are a lot more complex than mainstream spirituality tells us.
So if you know all the rules of self-care and still fail to implement it as much as you'd like, I feel your pain. In this post, I'll go over a few reasons why you may fail to take care of yourself. (If you've been reading Exist Better content for a while you've probably noticed that I'm a big "why" advocate over here :p) And while knowing "why" won't solve your problems instantly, it will help you make sense of your negative habits and start moving beyond them. Without knowing why, our struggles are like a complex Rubik cube we don't even bother trying to solve.
So why don't you take care of yourself effectively?
1. You don't believe you deserve it.
This may be a tough pill to swallow, but don't fret. If you feel undeserving, there are plenty of things you can do to climb out of this hole (more on this in next Wed's email). Feeling undeserving can disguise itself as "I just don't have the time!" or other seemingly innocent phrases. If you feel like this one applies to you, number two might also.
2. You've been taught that it's selfish.
Especially if you grew up with a caregiver who overextended themselves for others, you may have it ingrained in your subconscious that self-care is selfish (see: the trap of being a "good" person). If you have children, you may be even more tempted to neglect yourself in order to give all your time to the little ones. Or, maybe you tried to do what was right for you in the past and people hassled you for it. In this case, you may grapple with guilt or even shame when you practice self-care.
3. You don't know how.
I know, I know - Earlier in this post I said that most of us know how to take care of ourselves, we just don't do it. However, sometimes a lack of self-understanding can cloud the process of self-care, rendering it ineffective. For example, you may take a hot bath in an attempt at self-care, only to realize, "wow, I don't even like baths." The solution here is really to start listening to your own guidance rather than just following what experts or friends suggest. We each have to define what self-care is to us individually.
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This sounds obvious, but societal conditioning leans strongly toward conformity for the sake of safety. Our nervous systems are still wired to do what we're told is safe, even if everything else in us wants to express and behave uniquely. This is just something we have to work with little by little - a byproduct of living in an unstable society for much of history.
Even if you already knew most of this info logically, it probably hasn't sunk in emotionally yet. If you still struggle with self-care, then some of this info has yet to be fully integrated. In other words, you may mentally understand your limiting mindset, but you are not quite free of it yet.
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