Whenever I hear talk of self-care, the image that appears before me is one of bubble baths and an extensive skincare routine. Though self-care has become a prevalent topic in mainstream culture, I am perplexed by the heavy portrayal of self-care being primarily a beauty centered practice.
While taking care of your physical appearance is important, it is often the work put into caring for your mind and spirit that makes a difference. This is why I’ve decided to give you the top 3 things that I believe are essential to having a more complete self-care “routine.”
1. Self Discipline
One of the biggest misconceptions about self-care is that self-care is only about doing what makes you happy. While happiness is a significant benefit of practicing self-care, it’s not realistic to think that acting based on pleasure alone will carry you to where you want to be in life. In life, you’re going to have to do things that don’t always give you instant gratification in order to have longstanding peace in the future. Think of all the times you did something that made you happy at the moment as opposed to doing the thing that you knew would be best for your overall growth. How did that work out for you?
You see, happiness is a fleeting emotion, and to act on it alone can lead many of us down a path to self-sabotage. Self-care, and more importantly, self-love need discipline to grow. The things that are the most worth doing require a certain level of sacrifice. You don’t get to be Beyonce by cutting corners in life. You have to face things head-on. That’s the way to find what truly matters in life. Doing the hard work needed is a prerequisite to finding real joy and passion in life. Remember: nothing really worth doing is easy.
2. Let it Go
Often we don’t realize that why we’re not where we want to be in life is because we’re still holding onto old baggage. It does us no good to be so stuck in the past that we’re missing all the possible opportunities and experiences in front of us.
To be able to let go of the past you must first consciously decide to let go. It isn’t enough to merely think about doing so. Afterward, you must then determine what your motivation is for wanting to move on. One thing it would help to remember is that letting go is not for the benefit of anyone else but yourself. If you are holding onto past wrongdoings, choosing to move on doesn’t mean forgetting what happened. It does, however, mean acknowledging the pain you’ve been through and deciding that you love yourself enough to not dwell in that pain. If you are the one who has done the wrong, then moving on means forgiving yourself. Whether you’ve hurt someone or done something that you’re not proud of, it’s essential to remember not to make your present self suffer for the mistakes your past self made.
3. Silence the Noise
Many times in my own life, I’ve faced having to make decisions in which luckily I had a sense of what to do. But eventually, self-doubt would sink in, and I’d feel almost this urge to ask others for their advice. While asking for advice is not an entirely bad thing, I’ve found that my judgment gets easily clouded by the opinions of others. This I’ve since realized is because what I’m really in search of is not other people’s opinions but in fact their permission. This type of behavior can be very detrimental. In placing so much focus on other people’s ideas about your life, you begin to lose yourself.
I’m not saying to never ask for advice, sometimes certain situations call for at least hearing what people, who may know more, have to say. It can be a good thing to see things through different perspectives. However, as with all things in life, there needs to be a balance. It isn’t wise to be completely closed off. But you also can’t forget that you need to listen to your own thoughts, your own beliefs, and more importantly, your own voice. I know it can be hard, especially when you feel like you’ve always made the wrong decisions. But making those wrong choices are what help you learn and grow as a person. Don’t be so paralyzed by fear that you begin to rely solely on other people and their ideas of what you should be doing for your life. It may make things more comfortable at the moment, but in the long run, what you’ve actually done is willfully signed up for a life of being controlled. Learn to think for yourself and to figure out what it is that YOU want.
The way self-care looks can vary from person to person and even from day to day. While it’s good practice to see different types of ways to practice self-care, the most important thing to remember is that self-care is a combination of things all for the betterment of your overall health and well-being. One quote that I’ve found helpful to remember is, “Self-love is asking yourself what you need-every day-and then making sure you receive it.”