What Does It Really Mean To “Take Care Of Yourself”?

What does it mean to really take care of yourself in this world today? Life can be so busy! You go along doing your daily routine not really thinking about yourself rather all the tasks at hand. Then it hits you! You realize you need a break from it all but how do you do this? We may get our hair or nails done or book a massage or vacation for starters. We may go for a walk in nature or set out for an adventure. This can certainly help release some stress in your world and allow you to come back to your everyday more recharged. I am talking about going even deeper than that.

The kind of taking care of yourself that matters the most is the kind that allows you to be authentically you! This is where you are being true to yourself and honoring what is important to you without ignoring what you need. Now that is the harder thing to do yet the most rewarding because living with the consequences of doing something you don’t want to do is worse. Some examples that may resonate with you are saying no to an invitation that your gut is saying you don’t want to do or speaking up for yourself rather than squashing your voice thinking it won’t matter anyway. Another example, is setting a boundary when necessary with someone who is taking advantage of your good nature. In any of these scenarios, the reason it makes it so difficult to do is because you fear the outcome.

It is harder to take care of your needs when you risk having to be “uncomfortable” with another because it may cause conflict. That right there is ours to own! This is what taking care of yourself is really about! Honoring what you want for your own life matters! Listening to yourself is one of the best gifts you could give to yourself. Your God given instincts, your body and your spirit will all guide you to what feels right within your soul and what doesn’t. Once you discover what that is for yourself then you can take the appropriate action to take care of yourself.

The first part is about being aware of what you need in the first place to be true to yourself. The second part is about learning how to tackle the “discomfort” of allowing yourself the space to do this but how? Recognizing your own self talk is critical at this point! You may want to give in or say forget it it’s not a big deal. The truth is it is a big deal because if you don’t listen to yourself you are compromising your own integrity. You deserve to give yourself what you need. You are not responsible for the way another responds to it but you are responsible with how you respond to it. Your self talk needs to be supportive allowing the space for necessary change to happen. Pay attention to this especially when going through a challenging time because it is a catalyst to taking care of yourself. By combining a well needed break with positive self talk you will be so proud of yourself for respecting yourself enough to honor what is important to you! To put it in perspective, imagine how you would feel if you don’t?

Something to think about:

Is there something I can do to take better care of myself?

Affirming thoughts:

My needs matter. It is ok to allow myself what I need to take care of myself. I give myself permission to take a break. I will be better for it when I return. I set boundaries that preserve my own sanity. I speak up for what is important to me. I honor how I feel. I support myself with my own positive self talk. Everything works out to my highest and greatest good. I respect myself enough to listen to myself.

Are You Judging Yourself too harshly?

It seems as though no one can judge me harder than the way I judge myself! I am my own worst critic at times. It is not that I start off that way. It can take one triggering situation where all of a sudden I am thrown off balance then it happens. The inner critic comes out to tell me “I should have known better”, “I could have done better”, “why did I do that?” etc. You get the picture! It happens to us all. The trick to combatting this inner voice, that just wants to continue the constant badgering, is to do something different. Albert Einstein says “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking used when we created them”. In other words, you have to change your thinking if you want to solve the problem of the inner critic.

So how is it that we change our thinking to be more positive about ourselves and less critical? Simple. Do not judge yourself. Is this so simple though? When we judge we compare ourselves to those we perceive to have it all together. We also tend to judge according to what the world expects us to be with the myriad of ads, media, commercials, billboards, status etc. But is that reality for you? Maybe the world isn’t juggling all the resposibilities you have or your set of circumstances exactly like you do. The minute we start to compare ourselves to others then judge ourselves we have fallen out of alignment with our true selves and are now relating with our ego. The ego loves when you judge so it can feel inflated. Unfortunately, that is short lived and always catches up with you. In the long run you are doing yourself a disservice.

To be able to free yourself from judgement means you have to be willing to acknowledge that you do it! An easy exercise to see how you judge yourself is to notice how harshly you judge other’s. If you notice that you are constantly picking apart people or tend to be super critical of them, their work, the way they do things or don’t do things then this is a good indicator that you also pick on yourself the same way. Most likely when you are kinder to yourself you can have more compassion for others. It takes practice to realize you are in this state of mind. You have to think differently if you want different results. This requires observing your actions without judgement. Witnessing your behavior so it can change. Things don’t have to be right or wrong or good or bad. They can just be as they are allowing you to be as you are.

Your life will change when you can free yourself from judgement. It is such a liberating act to witness your behavior but not getting attached to it. Not expecting yourself to be perfect. Not feeling less then because you can’t get it all done. Not picking on yourself because you are not what, where or who you want to be. When you accept yourself for what, where and who you are now in this moment you don’t have to judge yourself. You are in flow with where you are in your journey. It takes the stress off of you. To judge others takes a lot of work because you are hooked into negative energy. Deep down inside you do the same to yourself and it becomes exhausting. If you do notice you are doing this then give yourself credit for working on it then let it go. Continue to walk in self compassion anyway.

Try to find activities that help you tap into your creative side allowing you to enjoy your life rather than being so critical. Take the time to pay attention to the way judgement shows up in your life. This is an exercise to help you feel better in the long run about yourself. If you notice an area that needs improvement then you can allow it to be an opportunity for healing. What better way to heal than to start being kinder to yourself on a daily basis. Self love is the key to freeing yourself from the unnecessary harsh judgment. You will reap the results first hand. You also will notice that you allow others to be themselves without criticizing so much. The two go together. How you see yourself is how you see others! This is life’s mirror showing you an opportunity to heal. You can be brave by witnessing where you can improve or you can continue to allow judgement to control your life. What’s it going to be?

Something to think about:

Do I tend to judge myself and others critically?

Affirmations to live by:

I am exactly where I am supposed to be on my journey. Everything always works out to my highest and greatest good. I am enough. I do enough. I have enough. I love and approve of myself just as I am now. I am doing my best. Others are doing their best. I am free to live my life as I choose. Others are free to live their life how they choose. I am a work in progress. I free myself from judgement. I free myself from bias. I free myself from attachment. I live a more gratifying life striving to be the best version of myself. I am at peace with myself.

Do you find yourself caring too much about what others think of you?

Do you find yourself caring too much about what others think of you rather than what you think of yourself?  We live in a society that judges our success by material things, status or your looks for instance.  The problem with this is you start to judge yourself by the same standard which involves what others think of you.  It can be stressful trying to keep up with society’s approval or even approval within your own circle of family and friends.  The stress comes from putting unnecessary pressure on yourself to be liked, loved or have approval.  It is trying to find value in yourself from the outside world rather than seeing your own value through your own eyes.

A big area that we tend to seek approval is through our work. It feels good to reap the benefits from your hard work but that cannot be the only thing that defines you as a person. I recall thinking I am going to work hard to have a great life that I earned so I would do anything to please others to show I was a team player even if it was burning me out. It is important to have a good work ethic, however, if it consumes everything you do by what others think of you then it is time to reevaluate. I had to learn to change my thinking around to doing what was in alignment with my core values to feel good about my efforts. Every time I wanted recognition and didn’t receive it I felt disappointed in myself. I was putting my expectations on others to validate me rather then me knowing I accomplished something great under the set of circumstances I was in. By me being willing to acknowledge the dedication I had to my own work I felt much better about my self worth.

Another area that is easy to get caught up in caring what others think is putting the emphasis on looks or body image. This is something that the media, social net working, commercials, bill boards, magazines, television, internet etc. all influence us even in the most subtle way. The messages tell us that we have to look a certain way in order to have the lifestyle that is being promoted. I have noticed more variety of body types just recently but that was never the case when I was growing up. Skinny equalled pretty. I found no matter how much weight I lost it was never enough. I just didn’t get to a point where I said to myself, “This is it! I am at my ideal weight”. I am done caring.” I always wanted to be better then where I was continuing this faulty thinking! The same thing can happen with needing to be in better shape, more toned, longer hair, micro bladed eye brows or fuller lips, anti aging regimens, bigger boobs or butt or whatever the fad is at that time. Again, all of these things are short lived if you are placing your importance on yourself being good enough if you only look a certain way.

These are just examples of how easy it is to get caught up in what others think of you but where does it come from really?  It comes down to self esteem and insecurity deep  inside of you.  Not one person on this earth can tell me they never cared what others thought of them.  This is a very human condition that we do automatically because we all want acceptance.  To feel a part of something is a natural instinct that comes from within.  There is a feeling of satisfaction or contentment that happens when you feel accepted by others.  It could be your parents, your friends, colleagues or community that you desire this feeling from.  Where it gets out of balance is when that belonging becomes an obsession to seek outside approval not realizing your own value.  The way you can test this is try noticing the next time you don’t get the response you wanted from someone you were hoping to get it from.  Are you placing your self worth on how they respond?  That right there is a sign to change your thought pattern to be kinder, gentler and more caring towards yourself.

Not everyone is going to agree or like the same things we do. That is ok! We are all made with our own unique talents and abilities. What matters is that you know deep down within your very soul that you are trying your best, under the set of circumstances you have been given, right here right now. Not under the perfect circumstances where you have all the ideals going your way because that is not what is happening. You knowing you did your best or are being who you are meant to be then it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Truthfully, if someone is hypercritical or treating you poorly then that is on them! Not you! They lack emotional intelligence because deep down in their souls they are not happy with themselves so they take it out on someone else. If it is a person who you respect and want approval from realize not to take things personal because we all see things from our own lens. They may be genuinely trying to help you by giving you the truth. Rather than using that for criticism turn it into fuel for yourself to improve upon whatever you can. Our best learning comes from these very types of situations because it forces us to change in some way that we may not have recognized otherwise.

This is your opportunity to start caring more about what you think of you and less about what others think of you!! Ask yourself “am I being the best version of myself that I would want to be?” If you feel you can change something then let your own goal be your barometer for where you want to be in your life rather then comparing yourself to what others think or taking things personal or whatever it is you do that weighs you down when you think of what others think of you! Truthfully, “they” are off living their own life while you are living yours being a slave to “them”. Being held hostage in your own mind by “them” puts you in the victim role. You have worked too hard to allow someone to just steal your power away. It is time to take your power back by being the leading character in your own life. You deserve to feel good about yourself and you are the only one who needs to notice when you don’t. You will have more joy and happiness in your life by being being your own cheerleader! Shoulders back, chin up and march proudly on your true path as you honor the person you are becoming regardless of anybodies opinions. You have a purpose and calling beyond your wildest dreams! Keep on going!

Something to think about:

Do I put too much emphasis on what others think of me?

Affirming thoughts:

My self worth comes from what I think of me, not what others think of me. I do my best. I have value regardless of what any person’s opinion is of me. I do not need to take things personal. I need to be kind, gentle and supporting of myself. I know that I am highly capable, talented and exactly where I am supposed to be to learn what I am to learn. Whenever I am true to myself it serves everyone around me. I honor my needs. I am a work in progress. I stand liberated owning who I am under these circumstances knowing I am enough. My thoughts are what count because I spend the most time with me. I love the person I am. I am deserving. Everything always works out to the greatest and highest good for me and others. I surrender others to the universe and am free to live my life in the healthiest and best conditions for me. I no longer hold myself as a prisoner to others opinions. I use this energy as fuel to improve anyway I can that feels right for me. I intuitively know what feels good for myself. I trust myself.

How Can You Catch The Early Warning Signs Of Stress Before You Suffer The Consequences?

Each person has their own threshold for stress.  One person may tolerate and endure so much more then another.  What we all have in common is a breaking point!  To understand what that looks like for you will help you decrease the chances of that happening.  Nobody wants to appear like they cannot handle their life.  However, if you do not take the time to understand your limits you will continually be in a vicious cycle of frustration or temporary fixes with no reward for your efforts.

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Do You Trust Your Gut When You Feel Red Flags?

Our intuition is one of the most powerful ways we can know what is right or wrong for us! The key is to listen to what it is telling you to do. For me, in the past I tended to give the benefit of the doubt to people longer then I should which means I am dismissing my own gut reaction. Our bodies warn us when something is not right usually by a feeling, thought or reaction in the body such as faster heartbeat, gut reaction (literally you feel it in your stomach) or some type of sign to get your attention. Our job is to pay attention to the warning signs so we can respond appropriately.

Your body is a very complex system but can also be your best friend in understanding what is really going on with you. We tend to hold stress in our bodies or even traumatic memories which have been stored up as pain memory. Your body has an automatic survival system that makes you flight or fight in dangerous situations. There is also one more to mention which is freeze! This can paralyze you to the point of not knowing what to do. It is imperative to calm the central nervous system down so you can really pay attention to what is causing your body to react so strongly.

Have you ever had something not feel right but you couldn’t put your finger on it? Have you ever just went ahead with it even though you knew something didn’t feel right only to learn you should have listened to yourself? Right there, is the exact moment to pay attention! How did your body respond? What thoughts were you having? This will be a great way to learn for the next time you are in this situation to avoid going down that same road again.

It’s easy to dismiss these reactions because we want to believe the best in people or not have conflict but in the end we are the ones who suffer. I liken these warning signs as “red flags” that say to us stop! At that point, we need to reevaluate what is going on  before we convince ourselves to ignore what we are feeling.  Perhaps, it wasn’t as big of a deal the first time you felt it but then it happens again creating this same reaction within you. Maybe you say something to the person letting them know you didn’t like certain behavior or felt uncomfortable but then it happens again! What do you do? Sometimes people go numb to their own feelings just to keep the peace in the relationship but that only hurts you.  It is time to pay attention because by not listening to yourself you are only prolonging the inevitable.

In order to get clarity on what you are feeling you need to remove yourself from the situation.  Take some time to journal what you are feeling then read it back to yourself.  This will give you better insight about the what is going on.  Notice what you are feeling when you are in the situation.  Ask yourself is this something that I can change?  Since we cannot change people it is important to recognize what you can do.  If it is not something you can change with setting boundaries then it may be time to listen to those red flags.  Another way to gain clarity is to pray and meditate on it.  Get quiet within yourself to see what comes up for you when you let go of the situation.  Take time to connect with your higher self that knows the truth.  This may help gain better perspective on next steps.  Discussing what you are feeling with a close friend may also help you hear what you are saying enough to understand the warning signs.

The most important way to be true to ourselves is to honor our feelings.  This means acknowledging what we feel when our gut reaction is trying to get our attention out of respect for ourselves.  We listen to ourselves by not dismissing our true feelings. Learning to accept ourselves as we are with what we feel is a work in progress.  Sometimes we may look back wishing we would have listened to ourselves sooner.  Trust there was a lesson to be learned in that situation no matter how long it took.  You are exactly where you are supposed to be.  Next time, you feel the warning signs you will be able to address it quicker then before because you have grown from that experience.  Learn to be kind to yourself when you pay attention to those red flags.

Giving yourself permission to be where you are in your journey helps to let go of judgement.  Some lessons just take longer to learn or we find repetition will get our attention.  Learning to accept your story no matter how long the lesson took is being authentic.  It takes courage to do this.  Courage is not the absence of fear but rather doing something in spite of the fear.  You have to be brave enough to love and honor yourself to live your best life.  If you don’t, it comes back on you as shame, remorse and guilt preventing you from a full quality of life.  Make it a point to listen and become aware of those red flags.  More importantly, heed the warnings.  You deserve the best!  You are destined for greatness in this world.  Self love will always bring you to a whole, healthier, happier you.  Therefore, listen to your God given intuition it won’t steer you wrong.  You were designed with a built in warning system for your benefit.  Use it!

Something to think about:

Do I listen to myself when I feel something doesn’t quite feel right to me?

Affirming thoughts:

It is ok to listen to myself when I feel something is off with a person or situation.  I can take time to reflect on how I need to handle it.  I will pay attention to the warning signs in my body.  I will honor what is important to me.  I will be gentle with myself as I go through this process.  I can trust by getting quite that my higher self will guide me.  I set appropriate boundaries that support what feels right to me.  I am a work in progress.  I trust this situation is getting my attention for a reason.  I will be gentle with myself as I am going through it.  I trust everything works out for my highest good.