To care is to feel concern for, interest in, liking for.
What does it mean to care for yourself? How many of us treat ourselves as people worth liking? Worth concern? I mean, getting into the real, gross, nitty gritty details, if we’re trying to care for ourselves but are on some level rejecting that nourishment, then how well is it going to work? It’s like trying to feed a child but the child is turning their head away at the last minute so the spoon hits their cheek. If we can’t be kind to ourselves then its very hard to recognize in the moment what it is that we truly need, and we can't get the nourishment we want, regardless of what that looks like.
It can be something as simple as leaving the dishes in the sink at night, but it can also be cleaning the dishes in the sink at night so that you have a clean slate for the next morning. It can be taking a long hot bath, or it can be falling into bed fully clothed and covered in dirt from the day. It’s not something that you can quantify or describe for anyone else, because at any given moment it will be different for any of us.
And if we don’t recognize in the moment what it is we truly need, then we’ll be splitting our attention— focusing on one thing while trying to do another, so that we’re not really getting the benefit of either. For example, if we’re taking some rest time but thinking about everything we should be doing at the same time, then we’re not really resting, but not really doing the things. Whereas if we can recognize in the moment what it is we truly need, we can make a better decision: do the stuff first then rest, or rest then do the stuff.
How many of us ignore our bodies’ requests for rest, sleep, time off, food, because we ‘shouldn’t’ want it? How many of us ignore our bodies because it doesn’t make sense to be tired or to feel affected by something? How many of us, when feeling tired, immediately dismiss it as silly and carry on? How can we know what we really want and what true caring for ourselves is if we don’t even listen? And why don’t we listen? Because we don’t want something to be true: we are hard on ourselves, needlessly. If someone you loved came to you and said ‘I’m so very tired but I don’t want to be tired’ would you tell them to suck it up and get back to work, or would you make them a nest on the couch and tell them to rest for a little bit? Why can't we do these things for ourselves too?
Care for yourself like you’d care for someone you adore. Stand up for yourself the same way; make space for your WANTS, not just your needs. That can look like rest but it can also mean a kick in the ass. It can mean clean your kitchen, or wash your hair, or get some work done. But it can also mean ignoring it all and going to sleep. This can’t be sold, really, because its nothing to do with the external stuff and everything to do with your connection to yourself and your ability to listen without judgement. Which gets us back to kindness: listening to yourself without judgement means that whatever you are, in that moment, is acceptable.
The other, beautiful side effect of this kindness is that, when you stop blocking yourself, you stop blocking the world too, and that makes it so much easier to let the world, other people and nourishment in.
Feel it inside yourself— those places where you’re holding on, blocking, stopping the world outside from touching you. Feel it and if you can, let it go for a second. Let the world in. Feel how when you let the world in, it starts to feed you on a fundamental level. And when the world starts to feed you, your body starts to feel nourished, and starts to heal itself. It’s such a beautiful thing, this place of rest. And its something that you can tap into, not just when you’re 'resting' but when you’re moving around, working, cooking, chasing the kids, driving across town. You can tap into this place and move through the world in a way that is sustaining you. All you need to do is let yourself soften a bit.