“Need someone to work extra days? Ask me. Someone who’ll clean up the place because we’ve scheduled an open house? Sure. I’ll even bring the cleaning supplies. Need someone to babysit your kids while you go away for a weekend? I’ll do it. Stay late? Cook extra? Loan money? Run an errand? Give up my bed, my book, my best outfit? You bet.”
“This was my life,” said Sharon, age 42. “I thought I had to do anything and everything people asked. Even if they didn’t ask, I’d find ways to accommodate them. And if I couldn’t, I felt guilty.”
Sharon was an expert, no-holds-barred, genuine “accommodater.” Somewhere along the line, she learned that her needs weren’t important. In fact, she had been accommodating others for so long and doing it so well, she didn’t even know what her needs were.
What she did know was that she was unhappy, sometimes became angry and almost always felt guilty. She realized she allowed—even invited—people to use her, but she didn’t know how to do otherwise.
“To me, self-care had something to do with giving myself breast exams,” she said. “If someone mentioned boundaries, I thought they meant property lines.”
“Self-care is an attitude toward ourselves and our lives that says, I am responsible for myself,” wrote Melody Beattie, author of Codependent No More. “Self-care isn’t narcissistic or indulgent. Self-care is the one thing I can do that most helps me and others too.”
Commitment to self-care won’t make you appear egomaniacal, cold or dispassionate. It means demonstrating love, respect, curiosity, compassion and gratitude for every aspect of yourself and your journey. Self-care involves discovering and appreciating that the love of your life is YOU!
The funny thing is that those who learn to fall in love with themselves are actually less likely to behave selfishly. Their joy and peace are contagious. They show up in their families, workplaces and friendships with a spring in their step and a zest for living that carries them, and those around them, forward in new and exciting directions.
Practicing self-care starts with perpetual mindfulness in which I continually ask myself, “What does unconditional self-love look like in THIS moment?”
“If I cherished myself as
MY OWN BELOVED CHILD,
how would I take care of myself
While self-care sometimes involves spending money on yourself through enticing gifts and pleasurable activities, the most meaningful forms of self-care require investing your attention and energy in other ways.
Maybe your life would be happier and more fulfilling if you applied mindfulness, imagination, discernment and discipline to take care of an overdue responsibility or change to some healthier behaviors. Just becoming comfortable and skilled at saying “no” might be the hardest—and most valuable—thing you could do for yourself.
Practicing self-care means becoming your own best friend, confidante and advisor. Here’s one of my favorite personal affirmations in this regard.
I AM MY OWN BEST FRIEND
No matter what, I am mindful, loyal, respectful, encouraging, kind, loving, honest and appreciative
of all I think, feel, say, do, desire and experience.
Here are some additional tips for strengthening your self-care instincts and muscles.
- Nourish yourself. Nurture, encourage and delight yourself in healthy ways.
- Set and honor healthy boundaries. This is what I will or won’t do. This is how far I will or won’t go. This is what I will or won’t allow. And remember to recognize and respect others’ boundaries as well.
- Take care of yourself physically. Make nutritious meals—of optimal quality and quantity—and reasonable, regular exercise your norm. Listen to your body and practice preventive health care.
- Have fun. You’ll feel better physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually if you include lots of laughter and play in your life.
- Recharge your battery. You’ll be wiser and more resilient if you invest in ample time for rest and reflection.
- Foster uplifting relationships. Spend your time with people who are kind, loving, honest and appreciative. Exchange help, compliments, hugs and love.
- Engage an ally. Seek support from a compassionate spiritual director, coach, therapist, friend or family member.
Author’s content adapted under license, © 2008 Claire Communications
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What clients say about
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“I knew Deborah before she became a Professional Life Coach. I’ve been amazed at how she has changed her life. When I decided it was time to begin making decisions about the next phase of my life, I knew immediately that Deborah was the person I wanted to work with. Her personal and professional experiences help her guide clients through coaching in a way that is individualized and delightfully eye-opening. Her warmth and sensitivity are immediately apparent, even over the phone. With gentle encouragement and permission, she will guide you through an examination of your life, including difficult experiences. She will help you gain insight from your past choices and then explore possibilities for moving forward in less encumbered ways. When you work with Deborah, your life will take on new meaning and your potential will be limitless!” Chris
“The work I did with Deborah continues to change my life. While I have learned many valuable lessons from her, the greatest was the deep insight that is available to me when I listen to and learn from my own inner wisdom. Her intuition, discernment and encouragement have taught me to trust my own intuition—creating new paths and possibilities for my life. One of Deborah’s great gifts is helping others respect and connect with their inner guidance and through that connection, to form a deeper, more meaningful bond with the collective wisdom and energy of all.” Ryan
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“With the same energy and determination she applied in the professional world, Deborah has taken her considerable expertise in human potential and has now set her sights on the largest co-op in the world, humanity. ‘Choose Your Energy, Change Your Life!’ tackles what I believe are the most important questions we each must ask: who am I, where did I come from, why am I here, and what’s love got to do with it (cue Tina Turner)? These are not trivial or philosophical questions for the answers change what we do, why we do it, who and what we love. I am grateful for the opportunity to walk with Deborah on this critical journey.” JD Messenger, Award Winning Author of “11 Days in May: The Conversation That Will Change Your Life”
“To me the great thing about Deborah’s book is how ‘accessible’ she makes the ideas. The Oxygen Mask is probably the single best example. As with so many of the ideas in the book, she explains the principle in such a simple way that it’s got universal application to virtually any reader. I can imagine people having multiple moments of ‘Oh….I get it!’ throughout the book. The stories from her own life as well as stories of her clients’ experiences become stories about all of us—stories about which the reader will think, ‘I am living my own version of this.’ Well done—bravo!” Joe Calloway, Author of “Be The Best At What Matters Most”