"If you long for the world to be a saner, more loving place, please be advised that you must start inside. Care for your sick, anxious, exhausted self as lovingly as you want to care for every suffering thing." ~ Martha Beck
I hosted a workshop last weekend and it turned out to be one of the more popular ones I've given in the past two years. I believe it's because of the title:
"How to Get Back Up When Life Takes You to Your Knees" is relatable to just about everyone. And in today's trying times, lots of people are in pain.
You've all been there: living life to the best of your ability when suddenly, out of left field, an intrusive event happens that rocks your world.
Your spouse wants a divorce; you've lost your job; your kid is in trouble; your friend wants to break-up.
It doesn't matter if it's a monumental ground-shaker, or a disappointing moment. If it rattles your life in any way, it's probably safe to say that it also changes the playing field for your future.
I was witness to a room full of brave women who fearlessly shared their heart-stopping stories. They were authentic and honest and vulnerable.
So were their stories.
There wasn't a dry eye in the room for some of our time together. The heaviness of their life-altering moments, and their subsequent shock and sadness, was palpable.
But there was also a common thread that has kept many of them stuck in their own versions of misery: they hadn't yet taken the time--or enough time--to feel their sadness and shock after their life-changing event before re-engaging in their lives.
Radical self-care was a topic we discussed and it was obvious that this concept eluded many.
Because, what is the first thing that happens when an unexpected event shatters your current status quo?
Despite the enormity of your emotions, you probably force yourself to keep going to the point of sheer exhaustion. Your life gets taken care of--sort of--from washing the dishes to picking up the kids from daycare, to paying the bills, and showing up for work on time.
But you also ignore your finest commodity: Yourself.
Everything working in your life hinges on your willingness to be gentle with yourself, to be patient while you heal, and to take time to feel the full gamut of emotions that are sure to overtake you. You can't be expected to re-engage in life until you've at least begun to take care of yourself.
Sadly, most people are not willing--or don't know how--to implement radical self care. But saying 'no' to anything that is not a necessary 'yes' is crucial for the sake of your own healing.
I bet you "feel bad" for taking this time for yourself, don't you? Or for saying 'no' to friends and family, even when your own healing is at stake.
Resistance to reaching out for help, support, or guidance is common because you think you can do it alone. But accepting that you need help is a critical first step in implementing radical self-care.
It provides relief and pampering when you need it most. Surround yourself with positive self-talk, supportive friends and family, and physical acts of self-love (naps, pedicures, baths, quiet time, etc).
Most people are not very good at self-care because everyone is more used to putting themselves at the bottom of their to-do lists.
But you wouldn't tell your child, spouse, or friend to "get up and get going" after a life-changing event, would you?
You would coddle, nurture, encourage, and protect them. You would allow their full range of pain. You would allow them space and time to heal. You would be their biggest cheerleader.
You owe yourself the same amount of respect, love, and tender loving care.
As you surrender to your version of radical self-care, you will begin to heal, making space for more joy, more fun, and more LIFE.
This seems counter-intuitive, but it works.
So if you're in the midst of an overwhelming, terrifying or sad life transition, practice radical self-care in small, tender ways.
Then watch both your attitude and your life change.