People get bossy when times are hard.
And right now, this whole life thing is hard. Everyone is trying to boss everyone else around, especially on the interwebs and more specifically, all over social media.
I know you’ve seen these infuriating and contradicting memes everywhere. The first one says, “If you don’t come out of this quarantine with a new skill, your side hustle started, more knowledge, you never lacked time, you lacked discipline.” One Facebook acquaintance of mine posted that if all you did during this time was watch Tiger King, then you have wasted your time. I blocked him.
Yeah, I blocked him because first, I loved Tiger King – I said what I said and I stand by it. Second, everyone needs to stop bossing me, especially when it comes to my emotional, physical, and professional development. Especially as people who produce these memes do not know me. Especially as this is a traumatic time all over the world.
Then there are various other memes that say if you don’t come out of this with a new skill et al., then you are just fine, as we are in a global crisis and so incredibly tired from trying to survive, so go ahead and prioritize health and wellbeing over productivity.
I tend to live more solidly in the second camp, but I’ve got a lifetime of trauma that I’ve been healing from over the last 13 years. When hard times hit, it takes me a while to process through and make adjustments. For example, a couple of weeks ago, it took me two hours to make coffee. If you love coffee every morning like I do, then you know that this is a huge deal.
Perhaps you’re different, and learning something new and being productive is getting you through. And maybe what gives you comfort would be irritating for me, and vice versa.
Here’s the deal: I’m not going to tell you how to self-care. I am, however, going to ask some questions that may help you figure out what self-care means to you, especially when stuff gets super hard (that’s what she said).
What Does Self Care Mean to You?
Self care can mean a lot of different things. Our capitalistic society jumped on the self care bandwagon early, trying to convince us that we can buy self care with bath bombs and mani-pedis and bottles of wine. And maybe that is self care to some people; all I’m saying is that these messages are from corporations, and corporations don’t love you.
Who does love you? You.
Even though I said I wasn’t going to, I’m going to boss you for a minute. Trust yourself in the love you deserve from yourself. Dig deep and know that you are the expert on yourself. If you take the time and make the effort, you will know what you need, what rejuvenates you, what makes you feel loved. Nobody knows you better than you.
Maybe self care is lowering the expectations of everyone in your household. This could mean that the dishes won’t get done one day, or the day’s school work ends early because your kid is in tears. Maybe self care is taking care of the bills, making those phone calls and sending the emails about deferment or catching up on the monthly budget. Or maybe self care is planting seeds in a garden that will soon be filled with tomatoes and peppers and pansies.
Self care all depends on what it means to you.
What are Your Feelings Right Now?
Feelings are uncomfortable. We like to stuff them down, ignore them, pretend they are not there, run away from them, hide from them, basically do anything to keep from meeting them.
But what if I told you that feelings are information. Knowing that information is essential for self care.
Feelings don’t mean you’re right or wrong or bad or good or successful or failing. Feelings are simply trying to tell you something important about yourself.
One particular state of being I have been experiencing is “tired.” I say state of being because “tired” is not a feeling word; this is a throw-away word, like “stressed.” When I want to avoid my feelings, I say that I’m “tired” or “stressed.”
While this may be true, these words are not accurate descriptors. Sit down or take a shower or do dishes or plant some seeds and ask yourself, “What are my feelings right now?” Start what I call the primary colors of feelings: Happy, Sad, Scared, Mad. Start with the most basic of these and go from there.
What Do You Need Right Now?
We are not meant to be trapped tornadoes of feelings. Once the feelings have given the information, they need to be released.
How? That is up to you, and that is part of your self-care. This could be as simple as:
- I feel tightness in my chest
- I am scared
- I need a hug
Or maybe you need to cry, or move, or create. The great thing about this time right now is that our skills transfer. We are strong and resilient and courageous – we’ve had to be, and the proof is that we are still here.
The important element in all of this is that you decide what you do with your feelings and needs. You are in charge. Maybe you’ve never asked yourself what you need before. This can be a confusing and dumbfounding question.
The good news is that this all gets easier with practice. Identifying what self care means to you is in itself an act of love and self care. Meeting your feelings and sitting with them and not being afraid of the information is an act of love and self care. Figuring out what you need and then filling those needs is an act of love and self care.
If there was ever a time to learn how to take care of ourselves, now is that time.