Does this sound familiar to you? You worked really hard, and you began to exercise regularly, and it felt great. Or, you put in a lot of time, and ate in ways that respected your body, and it felt great. Or, you really invested in building some good relationships, and you had a solid circle of friends, and it felt great.
Life happened. And the shit hit the fan. And all of your time and energy went into coping with whatever crisis was unfolding around you. And eating well, or moving your body, or reaching out to friends–all of that fell by the wayside. That was just part of surviving.
But now the crisis is over. You’ve survived–more or less intact. Things aren’t so hectic. You have time to catch your breath. You could make it back to the gym, or to the market for some green food, or out to coffee with a friend. But, you just can’t make yourself walk out the door, or put on the tennis shoes, or pick up the phone. When you think about re-engaging with those activities that felt so good, your stomach hurts. You may feel anxious, or ashamed, or isolated. If you’ve just come through a health crisis, you may feel angry–doing those healthy things didn’t protect you (or someone you love) from the crisis.
I’ve been exploring several varieties of this scenario with many of my patients recently. And as I was sitting in session, it struck me. On some level, if we have “fallen off the wagon” of self-care, we don’t believe that we deserve to get back on. We have so much shame about our perceived failure that we just won’t let ourselves re-connect with those life-giving activities. So I started handing out these “prescriptions:”
This process has been incredible for me, and for my patients. That moment when you can recognize that you have been avoiding self-care–not because you are lazy, or unmotivated, or any of the other unkind things we tell ourselves–but because you don’t feel that you deserve it, that’s a moment that is ripe for change.
Because once you can name this, you can challenge it. You can be compassionate about the struggles that you have faced, and the disruptive influence of crisis. You can remind yourself that you do deserve to nurture yourself.
If this sounded at all familiar, I’m inviting you this week to practice some kindness and acceptance instead of criticism. Offer yourself something that feels good. You don’t have to earn self-care. You deserve it all the time, no matter what.
And if you want your very own “self-care prescription,” let me know and I’ll put one in the mail to you.
Please feel free to share your own self-care reconnection in the comments.
Image Credit: Ann Becker-Schutte