The Other Side of the Coin

The Other Side of the Coin

I take self care very seriously. Self care is not something I personally can postpone, forego, or ignore. Little self-care strategies are always mingling in between the tasks of daily life for me, little snippets here and there, and bigger planned out events always on the horizon. When people tell me they do not have time for self care but wish they did, I often silently think to myself, “I truly care, but I cannot relate.” Balanced and well-planned fresh lunches, a regular supply of chocolate covered almonds, walks in the noontime sun, closing my office door just to have a moment to myself, gorging on fascinating podcasts, digging in the garden slowly and deliberately, fantasizing about taking a long and indulgent vacation, asking for space when I need it, taking a moment to pause. These are the most common ways I have daily self care. They feel succulent and life-giving, and I wouldn’t want to live without little doses of happiness to get me through the day.

Today I chatted with a colleague who admitted that she struggles with implementing self care into her life. I listened to her and genuinely empathized. Her story is so common. I hear it all the time. As I was checking in about my own thoughts in relation to her experience of self-care struggles, I had a familiar gremlin raise it’s obnoxious head. A voice in the back of my mind was saying, “Do I do enough? Am I lazy? Am I indulgent? Am I selfish? Am I squandering my potential by not doing more?”

So it occurred to me today that I do heartily participate in this ubiquitous cultural phenomenon we have at this point in time – the plague of busy-ness – just in the reverse (and arguably nicer) order than my co-worker, and, I suspect, many other Americans as well. I do the self care, and then briefly doubt its value, and then shush the murmuring into a farther, darker corner. Day after day. After day.

These little, ugly voices in our heads can be so tiny and repetitive that they become the background noise to our lives. We learn to ignore them because we can’t figure out how to make them go away. Still there, lingering in the shadows, telling us what we should do, should not do, feel guilty about, regret, change – these tiny little thoughts can be insidious enemies. Lack of contentedness and acceptance seeps in, usually without our intentional choice or consent. Noisy, dirty, obnoxious little roommates they are – and they are squatting on our couches, raiding our fridges, being careless with our possessions, yapping away on the phone late at night, and never helping to pay the rent.

So this is how I ally with the people to whom I previously thought, “I have no idea what you’re talking about”:

Yes, I do actually, it’s just that I am more familiar with the other side of the same coin.