It’s always been difficult to care for myself because I’ve never really known what that means. I know enough about selfcare to have the basics down. I’ve really mastered showering and brushing my teeth. So that’s pretty good. Outside of that, I’ve really struggled with knowing exactly what selfcare means to me. As it turns out, it does not mean watching hours of SNL skits, Between Two Ferns, or comedy specials on YouTube.
Best I can figure, selfcare means treating myself like a child. Hear me out. Much like a little kid, I can be temperamental. I often find myself getting obstinate or grumpy. Sometimes I have to bribe myself with treats–if you fold those clothes you can watch one YouTube video. Inevitably, I end up watching too many YouTube videos. I’ve come to understand that if I’m engaging in certain behaviors, I haven’t properly cared for myself. So, I’ve allowed myself to become grumpy and temperamental.
Here are some of the behaviors I engage in when I haven’t properly cared for myself:
- Watching YouTube
- Binge Eating
- Watching too much t.v.
- Social media (in any capacity)
- Avoiding reading books
- Playing with random apps on my phone (I have no games on my phone, so I end up compulsively checking the weather or looking at my Fitbit app)
It’s not a surprise to me that I become grumpy. To a certain degree, I think it’s a very natural urge to avoid doing a hard task. When I find myself avoiding selfcare or becoming overwhelmed, I ask myself these questions:
- Have I fed myself with nutritious food I enjoy eating?
- Have I had enough water?
- Have I played in a way that’s fulfilling?
- Am I dressed in an outfit that makes me happy?
- Have I slept enough?
Just the basic stuff at first. If the answer is no to any of these, then I remedy the issue. I’ve come to realize that I need more selfcare than most of the other people I know. Growing up, I was surrounded by people who didn’t take care of themselves. My parents would often insist nothing was wrong when something was clearly wrong. Sometimes as a way to cope with issues, they’d overindulge in alcohol which just put off dealing with the problem. I never really had a great role model for selfcare. I let taking care of myself slide for so long that I have to play catch-up.
I thought doing things for myself would make me self-involved. I used to think doing anything with my outward appearance was haughty. I thought taking time to stop and enjoy my surroundings was a waste of time. I’ve come to the understanding that it’s important to feel comfortable in my own skin…to really understand who I am at a deep level…to prioritize a relationship with myself. Selfcare has come to make me less resentful and more fully myself. It has allowed me to be a more authentic person. It has taught me who I am and what I need. This makes me better able to be there for others.
Throughout my professional career I’ve used Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I apply it to myself. That’s where a lot of the aforementioned questions I ask myself stem from. Through my growth in therapy, I’ve learned to view myself as my primary caregiver. I depend on myself and I care for myself. It is a cyclical relationship.
Read about the theory here: https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html
Typically, this triangle is used in education to assess whether a child is ready to learn. It can be used in tons of fields for a variety of ages. According to Maslow’s theory, each tier must be met before moving to the next tier. When I’m having a particularly difficult day, I remind myself that selfcare is grounded in science; if I learned one thing from Bill Nye, “[s]cience is the key to our future.” It is also the key to taking care of myself. I can’t argue with science.
Although I can find the cyclical nature of this relationship tiring and tedious, I’ve learned to prioritize selfcare. This has allowed me to begin trusting myself again. I’ve accomplished a lot in my life, but I constantly feel like it’s not enough. It’s like there’s a well without a bottom–no matter how successful I am, it’s never enough. Caring for myself has started to create a bottom for the well. I plan on using the foundation of selfcare to finally appreciate all I’ve done. I trust that I’ll get there, but it’s going to take some time.
My two major takeaways from this:
1. If I’m engaging in an avoidant or destructive behavior, I haven’t properly cared for myself.
2. I am responsible for caring for myself. If I do not properly care for myself, I will feel unsafe and I’ll be unable to focus on much else.
Next week on Better Bertie:
- Will I get just a little bit better?
- Will there be another adorable picture of Bertie?
Tune in to find out…