‘TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF…’
“Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.” ~Max Ehrmann
Take good care of yourself…
This was something my mother said to me many, many times, particularly as we were about to leave one another or saying goodbye on the phone. “Take good care of yourself Edward”. I can hear her words so clearly, poignant like a command of solace and warning. Usually, I would respond in my typical way of being nonchalant and coy, sort of shrugging it off, like okay, of course I will take care of myself, I already am taking good care of myself, what are you talking about, is what I would be thinking.
What did she mean? I remember her expressing sincere concern for me, as she did often throughout my life. “You’re doing too much, you need to slow down”. I remember getting irritated and defensive, dismissing that wisdom in sort of a – I’ve got my life together sort of attitude.
After all, I worked out 4-5 days a week. I ate healthy meals. I drank at least 3 liters of water daily. I practiced Yoga several times a week. I spent time doing things I loved, movies, nice restaurants, exciting travel. And, on most nights I even slept a minimum of six hours. I had it together right? Why slow down? If anything I needed to speed it up, pick up the pace. If anything I felt I was behind and needed to increase my efforts.
I took good care of myself—on the outside.
But on the inside, I buried vulnerability. I overcompensated for the insecurities. I used my wit and charm often to attain the things, and manipulate people, particularly women. I played the resilience card. I was the king of quick-fixes to remedy problems I encountered. And I was brilliant at convincing myself I was okay. And that I had it all together.
I wasn’t taking care of myself – emotionally!
I was taking good care of my outer world but was severely neglecting my inner world. Somewhere along the path of overachievement, chasing my goals, and trying to have it all, I lost the real meaning of good self-care or maybe I never really understood the meaning until now.
In the recent movie Southpaw the main character, boxer Billy Hope was in dire straits, at a point of trying to return to the sport he’d been suspended from and loved so much in an attempt to regain custody of his daughter who’d been taken away from him, and to redeem himself after a careless loss of self-control cost him the life of his wife and eventually everything he’d worked so hard for. In this pivotal point in the movie Forrest Whitaker who plays the boxer’s new trainer, says to him, “… promise me one thing, that whatever happens, you will take care of yourself…” Win, loose, or draw he cautioned and commanded the boxer to take care of himself. The point was driven home that the outcome of the match was irrelevant, and that what was most important was that he care for himself – emotionally, spiritually.
So what have I come to understand my mother meant all those years by ‘take good care of yourself’? What action did I take after understanding what she meant?
I made a conscious and deliberate decision to be selfish! Not selfish in the grandiose, narcissistic type of way. I made the decision and purposeful intention to let how I feel be my number one priority. I started listening from within and following my inner guidance system. I started deliberately focusing my thoughts; thinking on purpose and with purpose. I relinquished others of the responsibility of taking care of me and accepted full and complete responsibility of my own well-being.
I practiced meditation and stillness every day.
I made it my daily intention to focus on the positive aspects of all that I saw.
I traveled to connect instead of using it as an escape.
I purposely SLOWED DOWN; and began simplifying tasks and committed to DOING LESS which ironically I began to achieve more.
I took time to breathe deeply and centered myself in stressful situations.
I learned to let things go of the things I could not control and tried hard not to control the things that I could.
I started letting people and circumstances be who and what they are.
I started acknowledging my accomplishments and mini-successes and celebrated with small rewards instead of rushing to the next best thing. (THIS WAS HUGE!!)
I stopped moving from a place of obligated action and more into an inspired action with the things I wanted to do.
I started listening to my body more- which called for more rest than I previously was willing to commit to. I created sanctuaries—weekly time for me to relax and just be—instead of waiting for burn out before replenishing
I let go of disempowering beliefs that no longer served me.
Suddenly, the world I’d always lived in took on a different appearance—a more bright and more abundant world with purpose and meaning. My days became more joyous!
When we take the time to re-connect with ourselves, finding alignment with the God within and replace our fears with trust, and learn to let go of the things we cannot control, this is taking good care of ourselves.
When we listen to our intuition, embrace all of our imperfections, and stay authentic to who we are, this is taking good care of ourselves.
When we come out of the Matrix and focus our minds on what’s REAL this is taking good care of ourselves.
When we ground ourselves in the present and make mental space to find clarity, this is taking good care of ourselves.
When we learn to be gentle with ourselves, this is truly this is taking good care of ourselves.
How do YOU define taking good care of yourself from the inside out so that you can fully experience and have the best quality of life?