Obviously, when people think about self-care, they somehow begin to associate it with the more luxurious aspects of self-care like deep-exfoliating scrubs and bath salts or whatever. And while that is still self-care and still addictive to an extent, I have come to realize that the part of self-care that is actually the most satisfying is the one where you can physically feel lighter, as though everything that was weighing you down before is just gone.
It doesn’t feel gone, initially. There are always bits and pieces that are left behind, you know, like scars that refuse to go away. You begin to accept the fact that it takes a while to heal and that healing itself isn’t a simple process. But over time, you do come to treat yourself better than you did before. You know the patterns and you work on breaking out of them. Just knowing and understanding yourself better and slowly giving yourself the love that you deserve is what self-care is all about.
There will be a ton of bad days that will make you want to run away from everything and just be all by yourself for a while, and you know what? You should totally do that if you think it helps you. However, it doesn’t hurt to try and break out of these patterns, either. It works differently for everybody; some have it easier than others, but healing does take time and lots of love.
One of the most destructive patterns I had was unhealthy competition with myself and never really giving myself enough credit for trying to learn from something. I guess I just didn’t love myself enough when I should have, and it hits me in the hardest ways now, when I should be focusing on myself. Sometimes, I just feel like we have all let ourselves down at some point in time, whether or not it was willingly done. And breaking out of that pattern is so liberating, I can’t even put that in words.
It doesn’t mean that you’ve stopped caring less about the things that have happened to you. No. If anything, it means that you care even more than you initially did, which is why it is so important to recognize these patterns that are keeping us from truly caring about ourselves, especially when we need it the most. Maybe we have all let ourselves down, somewhere along the way, and it hurts like hell, but we all learn and grow from it.
But once you understand what self-care really feels like and what it brings after all the mess that you begin to acknowledge and make a conscious effort towards cleaning, you begin to see why it is so addicting and how it lifts a burden off of you that you didn’t even know you were carrying. I may not know how exactly this works, but it is one of the best things that I have done for myself.
Of course, I am not, in any way, saying that you have to put in the kind of effort that is needed right away. That choice, as always, remains up to you and it is important to work on yourself whenever you are mentally and emotionally ready for the task that it is. But when you choose to do it, always remember that it is okay to have a messy past or messy present and it is okay to seek help. It is okay to take time off for yourself and sleep it all away if you ever feel the need to.
We all heal in different ways and there is no rule book that is going to tell any of us how to go about it. It’s all trial and error until you find out what works best for you and then another bunch of trials and errors until you figure out how to get better at it. The more you unlearn about yourself and everything that you have been forced to take in from the kind of environment you’ve been subjected to, the more you learn about yourself and about others. It really makes one think about everything they thought they knew.
Now that I have consciously started to work on myself, I am beginning to see patterns that held me back from so much. I am still working on breaking those patterns, but it is, as always, an extremely slippery slope that makes me contemplate and introspect a lot about life as I’ve known it so far. Chances are, the more you try to find out about yourself, the more you realize how you’ve barely scratched the surface. But that is okay. We live and we learn over time, and we are all allowed to make mistakes and learn from them, and capable of being better as long as we haven’t caused lasting damage or done something irredeemable.
And when you finally, finally start taking care of yourself the way you truly deserve to be cared for, you realize that you don’t really want to go back to the time when you’d just let go of yourself and let things be. It makes you want to be better. At least, this is what my experience with self-care has been.
You begin to understand your own worth and I can’t think of anything better than that. You don’t take things as they come, anymore. You start telling yourself that it is okay to have bad days instead of telling yourself that you should push yourself to unhealthy limits just to appease somebody who keeps taking advantage of your dedication.
At times, I wonder why I never did this sooner, because things would have turned out so much better if I had just shown myself a little more kindness than I thought I deserved at that time. And then I have to remind myself that it is okay because there are always things that we internalize because of things that we are repeatedly told by the people around us. And in our formative years and during puberty, especially, we develop a lot of insecurities if we are constantly reminded that we aren’t good enough.
It is not until much later we realize that we should have, perhaps, been kinder to the teenager we were, but by then, the damage has already been done and we find ourselves trying to somehow fix that or make it better. What we need to understand is that we are not something that needs to be ‘fixed’. We just need a little TLC and a lot of patience to work through things that we were put through. It takes time, but we finally do get there. The journey towards finding who we really are and what we are worth is something that everyone has to take at some point.
But you know what? You’re good enough, no matter who told you that you weren’t. Even if you’re still trying to work on yourself. Even if you don’t feel motivated enough to do that yet.
You’ve got this!