Repeat after me – self-care isn’t selfish. It has taken me a lot of years to realise this and it hit hard when it did.
All through my school-college-work life, I have been that person who craves a “balance”. My idea of a balance was always excelling at everything I do. If I decide to run 10km but my body can only manage 5km today – I’d feel unaccomplished. If I finished an illustration through a high fever but it wasn’t good enough – I wouldn’t cheer myself. If my friends or family have made dinner plans with me, but I’ve had an exhausting day & can’t keep my eyes open – I’d still go, because they may feel bad/angry about me cancelling last minute. Living my life this way was beyond exhausting. My idea of self-care was going to the spa or treating myself to a good meal.
I was wrong.
Self-care is about putting yourself first.
My therapist said, “If you can’t take care of yourself, how can you care enough about others/ your work/ your body?” And she is right.
Self-care is about giving yourself free time to read a book, making sure you’re physically and mentally fit, making an effort to set yourself a routine, just about anything that can add a little happiness to your daily life. Self-care is also being aware of your emotions, feelings & relationships from an outsider’s perspective.
That said, today I want to share with you something I recently learnt. Gaslighting.
Sometimes people knowingly or unknowingly try manipulating others to get what they want. It could be your best friend or your father or a stranger. For example, let’s say you’re upset at your friend about something and you confront them calmly. Instead of understanding what hurt you, they choose to blame you for feeling the way you do, “you’re too sensitive”. You instantly doubt yourself, because your best friend who cares for you can’t be wrong, right?
Note: Often this happens because of the opposite person’s inability to understand or unwillingness to acknowledge emotions. The first reaction to is to protect themselves by shaming others — all very unknowingly.
It is important to be aware of situations and times like this. You can save yourself the trouble of self-doubting when not needed and probably even help the opposite person understand their behaviour. Remember- every person and situation warrants a different kind of response. Odds are this person is already on the offensive side, getting agitated or talking aggressively is almost never the answer.
Self-care plays the biggest role in relationships. Very often we tend to start being unaware of our actions and words & lose sight when others knowingly or unknowingly start harming you.
How can you be more aware, you ask?
– Meditate- you can read my thoughts on meditation here
– Journaling- When you practice writing down emotions you don’t fully understand, you’re developing the habit of noting this down each time it happens – step one to awareness achieved. And also, by writing it down, you’re actively giving it a thought.
– Make more time for yourself- often people claim to be “bored” when they’re alone. I believe sometimes “being bored hence let’s go out/ do something” is a technique to “escaping your own thoughts”. Of course this isn’t always the case, but giving yourself some alone time introspecting will increase your sense of awareness.
– Read more. The more you read the news, happenings around you, books, etc. the more you’re aware of people’s stories. And sometimes, people’s stories help you learn a lot about being an empathetic person.
(I’ll now take the opportunity to ask you to watch Nanette by Hannah Gadsby if you haven’t already)
If you want self-care reminders in a physical form – we’re selling AToZOfSelfcare Stickers 🙂 Click on this link to find out more!
Have a wonderful week ahead!