Welcome back to the final post of my five-part self-care series, exploring resistance to self-care.
In the first four posts, I’ve explored budget options for self-care, daily acts of self-care and emotional self-care. But there’s every chance that reading those posts may have thrown up a lot in terms of barriers. I’ve tried to make things as accessible as possible in terms of money and time, but there are still things that get in the way of self-care.
I want to explore some of those things in this post. Some of the ways things can hold us back from looking after ourselves, but also how sometimes we can hold ourselves back from it. Let’s dive into resistance to self-care.
Now, I completely understand that sometimes, lack of time and lack of money is a real issue. But sometimes, the main thing standing in the way of self-care, is the thought processes and beliefs that are going on in our mind.
I know for me, I absolutely hated and resisted the concept of self-care for a very long time. And even now I face challenges.
Here are some things that I have done to overcome some internal barriers to self-care.
1. Dropping the ‘should’
At heart, I am still a toddler in a temper tantrum, and when I am told I should do something, I often resist. And that includes when I tell myself I should do things.
In order to move from self-care feeling like a chore – and therefore something I would avoid, and resist at all costs, I tried to change my way of approaching it. It took time and awareness. But I started to try and tune into what I wanted instead of what I should do.
An example is that sometimes I feel like I ‘should’ make myself a dinner, but what I really want, is to have a night off from cooking and order a takeaway. So I follow that. Equally, sometimes I felt like I ‘should’ go to yoga. I’d show up, move through the class and really not be present. Whereas, what I wanted to do, was go to a cafe, have a leisurely cuppa and map out my schedule for the week.
Tuning into what I wanted and what felt good was really important.
2. Taking the pressure off
There has been a huge emphasis on self-care in recent years, and occasionally it can feel like everyone else has their self-care routine figured out. Sometimes this can be inspiring, and others it can just make you feel like rubbish.
First, drop the comparison.
Second, it can be useful to take the pressure off trying to figure it all out. When you’ve gone a long time without paying (close) attention to your wants and needs, it can feel like you don’t even know what you like anymore, what feels good or what is fun. This can be a bit disheartening and make self-care feel like a bit of a mission, but it can also be fun.
When I was starting to embark upon a self-care routine, I decided to give myself a month of trying things that felt fun, this ranged from weird and wonderful alternative therapies, different forms of exercise, different food and even hanging out with different people. And I still do that occasionally to switch things up. During that month of experimentation there were some things that I really wasn’t fond of, but there were lots more things that I loved, and felt really good to do.
So taking the pressure off can make tuning into what feels good a bit playful and fun. It also allows you to find what works for you, and as I’ve alluded to, self-care is different for everyone, at different times. Sometimes I want to keep it low key with my book or a yoga class. Other times I need to blow the cobwebs out with a wild swim or a run.
Your idea of self-care might be someone else’s worst nightmare, and vice versa. Just go with whatever feels good for you.
3. Give yourself permission
So in a similar vein to taking the pressure off, if you’re really feeling resistance to self-care, give yourself permission to not treat yourself well for a set period of time.
This might sound controversial, but when I give myself permission to not take care of myself, often I go a few days, realise I’ve made a huge mistake and then I move from feeling like I should look after myself into a place of really wanting to.
When all the options are on the table (to take care, or to not take care) the resistance can disappear and when you’ve got all the options in front go you, you can really see (and feel) what you are drawn to.
4. Listen to the resistance, get to the root
Sometimes it can be useful to acknowledge and sit with the resistance we are feeling. In doing so, we can open up to the deeper reasons why we might be avoiding taking good care of ourselves.
For me, this under earthed an underlying feeling of not being good enough, and internally, really disliking myself. I didn’t think I was worthy or deserving of my love and attention when it came to self-care. This led me on a long (and ongoing) journey of self-acceptance and self-discovery, which has been challenging at times, but so worth it.
I’ve learnt what my sticking spots are. I’ve learnt that when I’m exhausted, or struggling with my health, I start to judge myself for being low in energy and not achieving all that I want to, academically, socially and personally. I start to beat myself up and then I find it hard to be nice to myself because I don’t like myself – when I most need my own love and self-care!
This is a process that is useful to move through with a professional if you can, perhaps a counsellor. Staying with the resistance and observing it, rather than distracting from it, or getting completely consumed by it, can help you see where it is coming from, and help you get to the root of things.
Meeting the resistance is an act of self-care in itself.
It’s really easy to believe that our time is more valuable to others, and as such prioritise everything and everyone above ourselves.
Honestly, we often think we’re the central cog to a whole engine and we can’t possibly stop. But the truth is, usually we can. Usually the whole of our lives don’t depend on us not taking an afternoon off, or leaving the office early a couple times a week.
When we’re in this place, it can be really useful to think of other people we love, if they were treating themselves the way we are treating ourselves, whether physically or mentally, how would we feel?
Often the way we speak to ourselves is nothing short of bullying and sometimes we need to check back in with how we are talking to ourselves and treating ourselves. Thinking of someone you love can really help to give perspective.
Me first versus me too
Often, we can think of self-care as selfish, a ‘me first’. And whilst I don’t think there is anything wrong in putting yourself first (because if you don’t, who will?) it can be tough to feel this way.
So, rather than thinking of it as putting yourself first, why not think about it as ‘me too’? Your work, your home, your friends, your family, your pets, your friendships – they all get your love and care, so why not you too?
Overcoming resistance to self-care can be a long and difficult process, but it is also incredibly rewarding.
Thank you for joining me for this self-care series.
It’s been an absolute pleasure to write and share the small amount I know. The series ended up being drawn out over a lot longer than I initially planned, but I think going through my own process of renegotiating my own self-care over the last few weeks really helped. And it was a nice reminder of why self-care is so important.
I want to say a massive thank you for all the kind words, messages and sharing of this series. The response has been incredible and has sparked off some ideas for online courses which I’ll be working on over the coming months and look forward to sharing. If you’d like to be notified, please don’t hesitate to sign up to my newsletter using the sign up to the right of this post! If you have any feedback, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line via instagram or twitter.
Until next time 🙂