Letting go of self-care guilt (Part II of the Six Intentions)

I’m continuing my reveal of my 6 guiding intentions that underpin all of my coaching programs and most of my writing. You get the insider scoop!

In my last post, I named the three intentions that address how you spend your time, why you feel like you have no time or energy for yourself, and how to go beyond time management to the deeper shifts you need.

Today’s three intentions are about undoing the inner dialogue of guilt you have going on and giving yourself permission to take care of yourself in ways that work for you.

As you read, take a moment to consider how each of these intentions are or aren’t a part of your life and what you might do to bring just a little more of them into your mindset and actions.

Increase your self-compassion

What it is: Increasing self-compassion is about moving away from a default of judgment and control toward a default of curiosity.

Why it’s important: Since we all lay incredible amounts of pressure on ourselves on a regular basis, it is not plausible to suddenly accept your every thought, feeling, or flaw. That’s why most of our efforts at “self-love” backfire. But approaching yourself with curiosity is a very effective place to start. It gives you permission to be imperfect, to make mistakes, and to try again without being so harsh with yourself.

My approach to increasing your self-compassion is to think of your behaviors and your circumstances as science experiments. Returning to the playfulness of middle school science, your job is to consider what you hope will happen (your hypothesis), and then to observe what does happen with curiosity, and use that new information to think of new solutions and ideas. This gives us just a bit of distance from our circumstances so we can see more clearly (and without as much distorted thinking), and allows us to let go of some control as we work to change our habits and our circumstances.

Personalize your self-care

What it is: Personalizing your self-care means figuring out what makes you feel your best and seeking it out as self-care.

Why it’s important: In this too-stressed, too-busy world, self-care has been commodified and developed into its own industry. And that industry is constantly selling you what self-care should look like and why you need x and y product to achieve your ultimate #selfcaregoals. Often, the self-care and the fitness/beauty/diet industries play off each other, telling you that the best way to take care of yourself is to go on long runs and soak in a bathtub filled with rose petals. If you don’t take the time to figure out what self-care means to you, you will waste your energy doing “self-care” that doesn’t actually make you feel good (or feel constantly guilty for not doing those things), and you’ll miss out on what will truly make you feel your best.

My approach to personalizing your self-care is to use guided reflection to figure out what makes you feel most whole and nourished and then find achievable, tangible ways to get more of those things in your life. That is the primary focus. It’s also helpful to take a look at the more typical “top 5” areas of self-care (Sleep, Food, Movement, Stress Reduction, and Connection) to see which of those needs a boost.

Cultivate and rely on your support system

What it is: Cultivating and relying on your support system involves defining for yourself what you want your support system to look like and figuring out how to get more of whatever that is in your life.

Why it’s important: If you’re here, you probably love to help and support others but have a hard time asking for the same. Your desire to give is a beautiful part of who you are and there’s no use in trying to push it aside in order to “put yourself first” (that doesn’t work for very long, trust me). But it is important to acknowledge that you need support, too. Giving and receiving are not mutually exclusive! Taking time to think about how you are currently supported and where you need more is vital to undoing guilt and integrating self-care into your life.

My approach to cultivating and relying on your support system is to consider all of the resources at your disposal as possible support. This includes not only people, but places, objects, and activities. Your favorite outdoor space or your cozy couch blanket might be parts of your support system. Then, as we think about how to get more support in your life (especially when it does come to people), we practice channeling gratitude instead of guilt - appreciating who and what you can reach out to for help instead of criticizing yourself for needing help in the first place.

Those are the three intentions to help you release guilt in your life and be able to take care of yourself in ways that serve you.

Tell me in the comments, how do you currently feel about each of these intentions in your life? What do you need to be able to integrate them into your way of thinking and way of operating?

(And hey! If you would like personalized, one-on-one attention to incorporate these intentions so that you can find time and energy for yourself, release yourself from guilt, and create a more sustainable and content day-to-day life, check out my signature coaching program, Integrated Self-Care. It’s all in there!)

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Gabriella FeingoldComment