A common fear that shows up when I challenge my clients to increase (or in some cases begin) their self-care routine is ‘I don’t want to be selfish’. I understand that this fear has pretty much been ingrained in us since childhood when our survival was no longer 100% dependent upon our caregivers. In many ways, this value contributes to a polite and empathic society. Yet, particularly in the US, many people are all too familiar with the feelings of resentment, anger, chronic low energy, anxiety, depression, and burnout. And just about everyone I know is working towards or trying to maintain balance in their lives between work, responsibilities and relationships. I think that to have balance and peace of mind, being selfish or self-full on a regular basis is a necessity. I use the term self-full because I have found that it is nearly impossible to strip the negative connotations around behaving in a selfish way. Oftentimes, I will ask my clients to recall a time in their life when they acted in a more self-full way. Some will respond with a smile and say their teenage years; when they were able to pursue their passions and try new things such as exploring the creative arts (music, art, acting, etc), partaking in sports teams, joining different clubs or traveling somewhere new. This period in their life may also have involved much more risky decision making. Sometimes this worked out well, other times not so much, but more often than not, a lesson was learned along the way…eventually. Other clients will have to reflect back to childhood, as their teen years may have already been plagued with too much responsibility and not enough fun or relaxation.
To make peace with this fear requires a lot of work, mentally and by taking real action, often forcing yourself to do the simplest of things. For instance, treating yourself to flowers, drawing yourself a bath instead of a more efficient shower or taking a nap on Sunday without an overwhelming sense of guilt for not marking off another task on the never ending to do list. You may need to enlist the support of a trustworthy friend, family members or a therapist to hold you accountable to this new endeavor. In time, the benefits of being self-full will undoubtedly pay off, allowing you to be more authentic and present in your relationships as well as obtaining that golden ticket; peace of mind.
Below are a few easy and inexpensive self-care ideas, try one today and begin to create your own self-fulfilling activities list.
Go on a nature walk
Listen to your favorite music, create a playlist, purchase a new song/album from iTunes
Watch your favorite movie
Schedule a night out with your best friend
Schedule a night in with your best friend
Buy a special journal, write in it daily
Buy a new perfume, candle, lotion
Meditate or follow a guided meditation on YouTube
Take a yoga class or follow one on YouTube
Go on a picnic
Read a completely unrelated-to-work book
Buy a non body image based magazine – Oprah’s magazine is great!
Enjoy a cup of tea….sipping slowly
Netflix – watch a comedy or something ‘light’
Wake up a little bit early and meditate, go for a walk, journal, prepare your favorite breakfast
Shrein Bahrami, MFT | 2146 Union Street, San Francisco, CA 94123 | 415.595.8963