By Chris Wagner
“Self care is not self-indulgence, but it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” Audre Lorde
Self care is unique for each of us. We must define it for ourselves because my needs and yours are different and change during our lifetimes as well. Asking yourself questions and being honest about what’s working and what’s not is the first step in becoming your own personal caregiver. Clarifying values and deciding what’s most important help to plan how to take better care of one’s needs.
A Problem Solving Approach
By choosing one issue and looking for causes as to why it’s not working is where I can begin to brainstorm for possible solutions that will become my action plan. What’s keeping me from eating healthier foods? Convenience? Habit? Or, do I want to eat healthier, but don’t know where to start? The action here might be doing some research, talking with someone who has changed their diet or taking a class. Then I take small steps and try some of the foods that have been recommended and see what works. The key is to pay attention and keep at it.
By adapting a problem solving approach to life’s challenges, especially with self care, it becomes easier to see solutions everywhere. Creativity is at work and it helps keep one moving forward.
Cultivating Self Discipline
This leads to the concept of self-discipline. For me, discipline has always meant caring enough about myself to do what it takes to get the task in front of me completed. This doesn’t mean that I’ve never procrastinated, but that I understand the value of using my power and strength to not let myself down. Sometimes we get more concerned with not letting others down and forget about ourselves. Again, move to the top of your list. I bet others will notice the difference. The key here is also the concept of baby steps. Not too much all at once.
When you incorporate self-discipline into your regimen, it’s an easy leap to self-advocacy. It would be great to have advocates who speak up for us, but that’s not much of a possibility. Speaking up for yourself is a healthy alternative.
When I was nearing a judgment on my SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) claim and hadn’t heard anything for a while, I decided to call and check in. I was told that they hadn’t received the medical report. It had been months so I called the doctor’s office only to find out the report was in a pile of papers on someone’s desk. Instead of panicking, I listened to my intuition and wrote a letter. From my heart. I’ll never know what worked, but within a few weeks my claim was approved.
From then on, I have spoken up for myself. Asking for help when needed, creating boundaries with others and dealing with customer service issues always gives me a feeling of strength.
Finally, some more thinking on the value of saying no. One, we teach people how to treat us and two, by saying no to something we don’t want to do, we just might be creating an opportunity for someone else.
And, by adapting more self care into our lives, we become a positive role model. Especially for children!