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Self-care When You Don’t Feel Very Caring

self-care Apr 05, 2023
Black woman with natural hair, eyes closed, hands folded over her chest in meditation. She has short polished nails with a cuff ring on her third finger and large earrings.

As someone who coaches people on self-care and encourages folks to breathe and move at their own pace, it can be extremely frustrating to not feel charitable with myself. If you know me a little, you know I can be intense and push myself to make something happen instead of allowing things to come to me in their own time. I’ve been that way most of my life and it’s no longer working for me. And breaking that pattern has been SO difficult! It’s been a conscious effort.

For the last few months, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. Not in a “I have a lot on my plate” kind of way. More in a “I’m having constant panic attacks and can’t make simple decisions” kind of way. Luckily, I have friends and family who are reminding me to rest and helping me to reframe my thinking and regain my balance because I couldn’t do this by myself.

Here are a few things I’m finally accepting:

  • Just because you keep functioning during and after trauma, doesn’t mean you’re okay. I have spent years thinking that because I kept showing up for life that I was okay and eventually I’d feel better. But my attitude that “I have things to do, keep it moving” was a delaying/avoidance tactic. Not stopping is not the same as doing the healing work.
  • Helping other people heal and ground feels good, but it doesn’t heal the part of you that needs attention. Helping others work through their own feelings is great, and it might even give you a little insight into your own behavior. But if you don’t turn that focus around on yourself, you miss the opportunity to go deeper and create change at your core.
  • Rest is doing something. Allowing your mind and body to stop and do nothing…with no agenda…is not only okay; it’s necessary. Dealing with chronic illness most of my life, I’m used to working hard while I have the energy and then crashing. I spent years worrying that I wouldn’t have the energy to complete projects, to run errands, to hang out. So I would try to do everything in the few hours or few days that I felt good each week. As I heal my body and learn to pace myself, it’s taking a lot of work to break those old habits. It’s an intentional process to trust that if I pace myself, I can avoid the crashes. I can work in a way that’s sustainable. Resting without the goal of doing more is okay.
  • Relationships change, and sometimes they were never what we thought in the first place. I’ve watched others holding out hope for something that I could see wasn’t going to happen. I’ve done it myself more than once. And it’s okay. We can’t force other people to be what we want or need. And the sooner we accept people for who they are, the sooner we can stop trying to force them (and ourselves) to be something else. It doesn’t make anybody wrong. It frees us to find what we need in new places. Admitting that what used to work for us doesn’t work any more is a sign of growth. It might mean getting closer, letting go, or rearranging expectations, so that everyone’s needs are met.
  • I’m stronger than I thought. I had convinced myself I needed someone else to handle hard times. (And I do. We all do.) But I didn’t need THAT specific person. I needed the people the Universe sent. Once I was willing to accept the help the way it showed up instead of wishing it was coming the way I imagined, things changed.

I’m still finding my new equilibrium. But I’m giving myself grace and loving the people who are there for me. I’m learning to ask for what I need and accept the help I’m being offered. It’s more than I expected, even if it doesn’t look like I thought it would. I’m grateful.

As I’m working on my own self-care, I invite you to check out the Everyday Activism Habit, where we make social equity a habit in four steps:

  1. Self-care because healing is a form of protest (There's a reason this is step 1.)
  2. Know Your Facts to undo myths and lies
  3. Undo The Work to challenge the system
  4. Rest & Rejoice to avoid burnout and acknowledge your wins

Ready to DO something right now? Download the Everyday Activism Action Pack and get started today.

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