Leadership and Self care

If you always put yourself last others will follow your example. I sometimes offer this response when I hear another woman talk about giving – time, money, energy – even though it’s clear she feels spent and really wants to ask something for herself instead. This is our common affliction, selflessness turned dangerously against the self.

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence it is an act of political warfare – Audre Lorde.

Choosing self-care requires that we grant ourselves the authority to behave as if we matter. This is daring and courageous because at every turn we have been told we don’t matter – at least not for our own sake, or in relationship to ourselves alone. Women, and women of color especially, are expected to give care and pleasure. We have been told they are not ours to take.

Yet take them (them being deep and abiding care and pleasure in and for ourselves) we must. Now. Starting today.

I’m not just talking about pampering, although a nice massage or pedicure is good. I’m talking about revolutionary self-care, which is more about living with some authenticity. Nurturing the woman within. Abandoning airless hiding places and showing up as our real selves. Listening for our own voices and honoring our honest human needs. Saying yes only when we really mean it. Being bold enough to ask for what we want.

This kind of self-care is about bypassing the busyness badge. There is nothing wrong with a busy schedule, but when we always wear exhaustion – physical, mental or emotional – as a badge of honor, it is definitely time for a time out. How should we use the time? However we want, excuses or guilt not required.

Perhaps you’re thinking…. Are you nuts? We are in crisis mode, there isn’t time for self-care!!!

I’m not suggesting a bubble bath while the house is burning. Only recognition that all resources, including our physical, mental and emotional energy, are finite. Willfully depleting our resources with no plan for restoration eventually leads to a different kind of crisis – feeling bombed out within. Instead, we must learn to take refuge in a regular, committed practice of self-care.

Share the struggle and make the time

We are all in this together; those we are fighting for and with – everyone has something to contribute. Our job is to recognize the agency of our compatriots. Also, to find innate value in ourselves (not based on what we do but just because we are), and stake a claim to identity beyond hero or martyr. It isn’t actually true as often as we’d like to think that doom is the inevitable consequence of our personal failure to ride in on a white horse. Sometimes we can give so much time and effort rescuing that we have nothing left, and we end up losing ourselves – surrendering good health, joy, dream time, clarity and spontaneity.

Of course our work matters. That’s why we do it. What also matters is finding balance. How is that possible when our work isn’t just a job but a life mission? We have to remember that we (each and every one of us) are included in the mission. We are equally as deserving of the freedom, peace, equality, opportunity and power as every other person we are fighting for and with. We must fight just as hard for ourselves.

Here are some simple self-care strategies to try today:

  • Pay attention to what you think and how you talk to yourself.
    • Notice when your inner voice is not kind or encouraging. Memorize and practice a compassionate response to your inner critic.
  • Anchor an awareness activity.
    • For example, each time you wash your hands or climb the stairs, slow down and take three to five deep breaths if that feels ok (some people feel unpleasantly activated by deep breathing). Deep breathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system and signals the brain that all is well so it is ok to turn off the stress response.
    • Alternatively, you can try grounding yourself. Notice the pressure of your feet on the floor as you stand or walk.
    • Finally, say something kind to yourself as you bring attention to the moment. For example, may I be at ease, may I feel encouraged, may I connect with the strength and calm I need.
  • Check in with your body a few times each day.
    • See if you can notice any sensations happening inside. Do you notice shallow or rapid breathing? Do your shoulders feel tense? Does your chest feel tight?
    • Take a moment to stretch and soften any places that feel uncomfortable, tight or tense.
  • Notice what is going right.
    • Most of us have a negativity bias. We are always on the lookout for potential threats or danger (mostly this helps keep us safe). Unfortunately, it can also add to stress or feelings of overwhelm.
    • Make a conscious effort to give a little more attention to what is going right. Did you really enjoy your coffee or tea today? Did you exchange a nice smile with a store clerk? Did you see a beautiful tree? Look for big and small feel good moments every day.
  • Make time for yourself.
    • You deserve your care and attention. If your schedule does not allow room for you, do some trimming to make the space.
    • Be patient and gentle with yourself.
    • Tolerate your imperfections.
    • Remember you are uniquely you, don’t waste time comparing yourself with others.
  • Make and honor personal boundaries.
    • I have an anonymous quote on my wall that reads, “she who trims herself to suit everybody will soon whittle herself away.” Don’t lose yourself to your own unwillingness to set limits.
  • Know what feels good.
    • Do it often.

Caring for ourselves is not self-indulgence. Caring for ourselves is self-love. It is what we must do, not only because we are change makers and want to bring our best selves to this work but also, maybe even more so, because good physical, mental and emotional health require that we create space to honor ourselves and our own human needs. When we always put ourselves last others will follow our example…let’s set a better example.

 

 

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April self care calendar

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8 Ways to be True to Yourself

  1. Maintain alignment between what you feel and need and what you say and do.
  2. Make value-based choices while taking into account intuition, research, and the bigger picture.
  3. Do something each day that reflects your deepest needs, wishes, and values.
  4. Speak up for yourself and ask for what you want.
  5. Don’t put up with abuse of any kind.
  6. Give up designing your behavior by the desire to be liked (be imperfectly perfect and yourself!)
  7. State and maintain your boundaries, especially about the level of energy you can handle being around or taking in.
  8. Offer your fear loving-kindness and compassion.

From: 4 Questions to Foster Your Authentic Self
By Carley Hauck | Mindful.org/October 12, 2016

February Self Calendar

February  
 
   
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
1 2 3 4
      Eat slowly with attention to the taste and texture of your food. Meditate for 6 minutes Do a breast self-exam. Visit webmd.com for directions Download a free habit forming app such as Productive or Strides
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Write out one goal for the month. Break it into weekly steps. Enjoy 5 minutes of gentle stretching before bed. Turn your phone off for one hour Be still and notice any pleasant sensations inside your body Meditate for 7 minutes Tell at least one supportive person about your goal and why it’s important. Try an online exercise or yoga workout
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Clear all clutter from a purse, closet, car or drawer. Try to see the point of view of someone you don’t like or agree with. Make a list of everything you love about you. Go ahead, don’t be shy! Do something you need to do, but don’t want to do. You’ll be glad you did. Meditate for 8 minutes Do something that requires you to call on your courage. You are brave and strong. Monitor your credit at mybankrate.com or creditkarma.com.
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
Offer one random act of kindness. Skip T.V. tonight and enjoy a good book or magazine. Say to yourself, may I be at ease each time you wash your hands today. Eat only when you are hungry Meditate for 9 minutes Practice being patient and gentle with yourself. Go for a walk or hike.
26 27 28  
Visit atlantahabitat.org to learn about home ownership Write down three things that went right today. Forgive yourself for any mistakes you made and plan to try again tomorrow. I really don’t think life is about the I-could-have-beens. Life is only about the I-tried-to-do. I don’t mind the failure but I can’t imagine that I’d forgive myself if I didn’t try.

Nikki Giovanni

 

The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.  Mark Twain

 

You’re always with yourself so you might as well enjoy the company.  Diane Von Furstenberg

She who trims herself to suit everybody will soon whittle herself away. Unknown

 

Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. Arthur Ashe

God said, Love your enemy, so I obeyed and loved myself.”  Khalil Gibran

           

 

Take heart

If you think about it, the degree in which our world is stitched together with loving-kindness is extraordinary. To a surprising extent, accomplishing the simplest daily tasks requires that most people we encounter will be relatively decent, even kind. This network of decency is so close at hand, so mundane and ordinary, that it is mostly invisible to us. Even in the midst of the most dire conditions, there are countless examples of people who still manage to love, share, help one another, smile, and laugh.

Judy Lief

A Result of Meditation

“One of the finest results of meditation is the increased gap between stimulus and response. That gap before I react gives me time to notice my habitual patterns and sometimes even decide whether to stay a slave to them or break loose (when this happens, the feeling is liberating – like getting naked in public).” Brent R. Oliver