The term Radical Self-Care has been rattling around in my brain for a couple of weeks. I listened to a TED talk given by Anne Lamont called 12 truths I learned from life and writing and since then I can’t get the words out of my head. Even though I often think about how to incorporate self-care into my life, attaching the word radical has taken on new meaning.
Self-care is one of those buzz words that gets thrown around a lot. We receive so many messages every day including: eat better, sleep better, daily exercise, and learn to meditate. The amount of information can be overwhelming but there is a simple way to radical self-care.
Consider the following:
When we take a flight, one of the first of the safety instructions is that if the oxygen masks come down, be sure to put your own on first before helping any others, including your own children.
The reason to put your own mask on first is that if you wait and help everyone else, you may not survive.
I think this is the very definition of radical self-care: You must take care of yourself first or you won’t survive.
Not surviving comes in many forms. Exhaustion, depression and anxiety, medicating either through established avenues such as your doctor or through self-medicating, and whole host of other things that numb us to our true feelings.
Who loses when you don’t take care of yourself?
Just like in the airplane example: you, your children, anyone around you that could have been helped if only you would have taken the time to make sure you were okay first.
Your health and sanity are just a couple of things that you jeopardize by not taking care of yourself.
And, why don’t we take better care of ourselves?
I’m quite certain there are many reasons but the ones that resonate with me are the following:
Societal expectations – this is the one that simply says that everyone else must come first.
Guilt – because we’ve learned that everyone else comes first we feel guilty for even wanting to take care of ourselves and that is a powerful deterrent.
Time – though is an excuse, life gets busy and because you’ve put yourself last, you’ve become convinced that there is no time to take care of yourself.
Expectations – as a perfectionist, I struggle with doing everything the “right” way.
Hint: there is no right way.
What can we do?
Here comes the simplest way to radical self-care. Are you ready for it?
The simplest and, yet, most radical form of self-care is to say NO.
Saying yes to everything that presents itself to you saying no to you. I often tell friends and clients that no is a complete sentence. No explanations necessary. By saying yes to taking care of yourself and no to others, you are one step closer to that life you want.
I dare you to try it. Especially with those requests that you’ve said yes to and immediately wished you could have said no.
I dare you to take care of yourself first and see how much better you are for your family, friends, work and life.