Don’t #SELFCARE Yourself, GROW Yourself
What is self-care, really? #selfcare #selfwork #selflove
Inspirational quotes that encourage me to put aside the negativity.
Brands that tell me to indulge for just a moment to relieve the stress.
Motivational speakers that tell me to put myself first.
As I sit and I stare at my never-ending to-do list, I feel the tinge to retreat. To check my Facebook feed. To take the dogs on a walk or make myself another cup of coffee. My mind starts to drift.
I sit for a moment, reflecting on that itching, killer-persuasive desire to procrastinate. If I take the dogs on a walk, I reason, the exercise will give me the adrenaline shot of dopamine I’m craving at the moment. I’ll feel happy, so logically, it’s “self-care”.
I counter-argue with myself and consider that I really need to make that tough call that I’ve put off for a few days. I also need to make good on my promise to deliver an assignment to one of my clients. I take a deep breathe and conclude that getting these tasks done will be much more restorative than taking the dogs on a walk. I refocus my energy and I dial the phone.
Over the last nine months I learned about a new perspective of “self-care.” I dived headfirst into the hard stuff, a.k.a. facing my past, my “flaws,” my misperceptions. Self-care isn’t choosing to indulge in a glass of wine after a hard day of work. It’s not necessarily dipping into a warm salt-bath at the end of a long week. And it’s definitely not a weekend-long Netflix binge on the couch to “restore” my energy.
I should know. I had tried each and every one of these self-care tricks in my self-care toolbox. My fear and anxiety only grew. Getting out of bed only got harder and harder to do.
I went to a support group. That helped for a moment but it wasn’t enough. I began seeing a therapist. All good steps in the right direction but not enough to make significant strides in my healing.
At the time, the only viable solution I could see was to quit my full-time job and focus on self-care until I felt healed. I started exercising more and eating healthier. I began to write daily. I started a daily affirmation journal. But still, I felt lost. At first I reveled in my decision to put myself first, then the fear of failure set in.
I felt like I couldn’t even succeed at self-care!
Fast forward to finding my voice again through the ASPIRE program. Over the 3-month course, I learned that true self-care requires us to heal our feelings and self-sabotage, so we only create uplifting change.
I learned that the adrenaline shots of dopamine – a midday walk with the dogs, a sporadic spa day, a Netflix binge fest – aren’t going to cure me of my desire to retreat in the face of my anxiety. In fact, it’s only going to proliferate the issue. By providing me just enough of a boost, I trick myself into believing these “self-care” tactics are working, while the harder tasks, the ones more aligned with my priorities are neglected.
Through growing myself, I discovered, with a little help from some amazing women, how to heal from my self-sabotage. I learned how powerful my words and their meaning can be in shaping my reality. I discovered how to separate fact from fiction to understand where to put my attention. I learned that only I can decide if an event happened to me or for me. And only I can decide how to overcome the challenges thrown my way.
I learned how to reignite my light.
I learned how to restore my integrity with my community so that those around me can trust in my words and actions.
I learned how to be patient with myself rather than jumping into the next tasks in a hurry.
I learned how to actually be vulnerable rather than just playing the damsel in distress.
I learned how to be a better wife, mother, daughter and friend by prioritizing the things that matter over the things that waste our energy.
I learned how to be a better leader by expressing gratitude and grace on a level I’ve never experienced.
At The Glow Effect, we call this the #GiveGrowth model.
When you give growth…
you’re shifting your own perception — of yourself and women,
you’re increasing female leadership,
you grow other women who aspire to create a better world.
You give your people a leader – someone who creates a mindful and uplifting impact.
Advice isn’t how we grow. Constantly seeing our own light – and subsequently the light of others – is enough.
As a result we shift how we perceive, support, and develop high potential women who aspire to create a better world.
Please don’t get me wrong – I’m not encouraging that we stop drinking wine and taking baths, per se.
This Giving Tuesday and beyond, I’m encouraging you to ask the confronting question:
“Am doing this out of true care for my growth and the growth of others OR am I avoiding, procrastinating, and distracting myself from what I really stand for?”
Remember that sometimes self-care means doing the hardest thing, looking inward and facing the healing. It means empowering yourself to empower others
Today, tomorrow and everyday, choose to give growth.
Elena is the the Director of Communications for The Glow Effect, a social enterprise raising the confidence + capability of female leaders to catalyze community healing. Born and raised in sunny Southern California, Elena enjoys getting outdoors with her husband, toddler and two rescue dogs. You can find her musings published in health, business and parenting blogs across the nation. Connect with her on Instagram + Twitter.
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