Both self-care and pleasure begin with self-love. As we love ourselves more and more, it creates the conditions for pleasure, for our continued well-being, and for us to really care for ourselves. However, it’s not necessarily a linear process wherein one thing creates the other. It’s more of a cycle: This love creates the conditions for self-care, and self-care opens the door to even more love for ourselves. Love creates an environment for pleasure and the conditions for us to experience pleasure. And then, this pleasure again creates a sense of well-being and welcomes in even more love.
There are various aspects to understanding how to bring in a new skill or develop a new area of our lives, but people often get confused about their personal development because they feel like they are getting conflicting information. This is often because they’re trying to see it as a linear process when it’s actually a multidimensional process. We adjust one part, then another, and then another, and that eventually snaps the whole new way of being into place.
Our self-love is an essential ingredient in developing our self-care and pleasure.
So, what does it mean to love ourselves? I get this question a lot.
There are many behaviors that show that we love ourselves. Primarily, self-love occurs when we treat ourselves with respect, care, and kindness. But it is more than ways of acting toward yourself. It’s also actually cultivating a flow of love through all dimensions of who you are. Learning to love yourself is partly about cultivating the feeling or sensation or energy of love in all aspects of who you are. You allow this flowing love to run through you and into all aspects of your life.
Exercise for loving yourself:
1. Think of something or someone whom you really love, and focus your attention on feeling that a strongly as possible.
2. Expand that feeling through your attention.
3. Take this feeling and apply it to yourself.
Once you have a read on what love feels like, then you can start to access different parts of your experience. For example, while you’re eating, is this self-love present? While you’re with this person, is this self-love present? While you’re taking a walk—and so on. You can see whether this love is present in all aspects of your life and environment. You can look at each one of these aspects by comparing what is present to this strong love. Where you find love to be lacking, you can ask yourself “what would allow that feeling to come in more? What kind of changes in my behavior or in the kind of people I’m around?”
Sometimes you will know and sometimes you can just experiment. If you have trouble coming up with new ideas, then there are plenty of ideas available online. Otherwise, just try something out. For example, perhaps try to be a bit more intentional while you’re walking and then pay attention to whether or not that shifts things. Or, if you try speaking your truth a little bit more in your relationships, does that help? After each experiment, assess whether it strengthened the love that you were feeling or not.
As you experiment with creating a life full of self-love, you to be able to better refine what it is that you’re doing so that you can have more of this self-love in your life. Loving yourself raises your energy, and that allows you to make better and better choices for yourself. It allows you to draw in more pleasure. It allows you the ability to better care for yourself.
For more about self care take a look at my article >>> “On Self Care”
When people think about self-care, they often imagine a list of things that they need to do for themselves. So, they check the boxes, making sure that they’re exercising, drinking enough
water, sleeping enough, eating the right food. All of these things belong to the basic category of self-care. If we are doing these things, then it must mean we are taking care of ourselves, right?
There is some truth to this. These are the basics. This is what we need to do in order to sustain our health.
However, self-care is much deeper than checking these boxes. Our self-care is more about how we are able to take care of ourselves in each and every moment – this includes all of our behaviors, thoughts, and emotional experiences. It is more than diet, exercise, getting enough sleep, and the occasional massage. Each and every act in our life either cares for us and supports us, or it does not.
Our ability to care for ourselves is also a sign of how much we have healed ourselves up to this point in time. So self-care is both a way of seeing how much we have healed ourselves and a
way of healing ourselves.
When we give ourselves something that we didn’t have in the past – if we take care of ourselves in a way we weren’t taken care of in the past, or if we love ourselves in a way that we weren’t loved in the past, or any other way that we give to ourselves something in the present that undoes or rebalances what was done or not done in the past – it is powerfully
healing. So as we give ourselves the care that we may have missed out on, it lifts us to an entirely different place, a whole new level of healing.
However, there are a number of things that get in the way of receiving this deep healing through our self-care. For example, we may have learned ways of caring for ourselves that we were taught were helpful but actually are less so. Someone could think that they’re eating in a healthy way because that is what they’ve been taught is healthy, unaware that what they’re eating is actually really harmful for them. This type of misconception can happen in every area of our life. What we eat is just one example.
Another way that we become limited in our ability to care for ourselves is through our thoughts and perceptions about who we are and what we deserve. We cannot care for ourselves if we believe that we’re not worthy of it. These beliefs, which we often learn in our childhood, teach us to cancel out our wants and needs. We become blind to what it is that we need. We become out of tune with what it is that we’re wanting or needing in any given moment.
Because of this, we might reach out to various different things that are maybe less healthy, less useful, less caring of ourselves. In part, self-care is actually learning what it is that we need. Like, what are these things that maybe we’ve lost sight of yet are truly supportive of who we are and who we want to be and how we want to live our lives: one is the habits that we develop, another is the way that we have lost sight of what is good for us.
There are also institutional structures in place that actually lead us away from caring for ourselves. We’re taught to evaluate ourselves based on our ability to persevere and work really hard. We are taught to evaluate our own goodness according to how much we sacrifice for those around us. As we become aware of these cultural influences on our ability to care for ourselves, we can peel back another layer of what has been getting in our Way.
Self-care is a foundational element to doing personal development work. It is both an act that keeps us healthy and one that heals us. There are a number of challenges to being able to really care for ourselves. Recognizing the obstacles that are in the way of our self-care will help us to be more prepared in our efforts and proud of our successes.
For more about self care take a look at my article >>> “On Self Care”
Our pleasure shows us where we are in alignment. It is a natural built-in system that shows us what is right for us. However, not all experiences we might label as pleasurable are created equal.
It is helpful to learn to differentiate between types of pleasure. For example, eating a piece of chocolate cake might feel good in the moment, but that does not necessarily mean it is in alignment with you. To determine whether it is or not, you need to pay attention to the entire experience. How do you feel after you eat the chocolate cake? Does it continue to be a pleasurable experience?
It is also helpful to pay attention to the quality of the pleasure. Is it consistent throughout the layers of the experience? Using the same example of the chocolate cake, it might feel good in your mouth but not in your body. Or, maybe it negatively impacts our emotions because it’s more food than we actually need and we know it, and so we feel a little uncomfortable about having eaten it.
This approach applies to all experiences in our lives: How we feel at work, how we feel in our relationships. As we pay more attention to our pleasure and learn to really listen to it, we strengthen our ability to navigate through life.
Another thing that gets in the way of using pleasure as our guide is having a negative relationship with pleasure, which can make you feel bad about something that is actually good for you. Your conditioning distorts the picture of what you are experiencing based on ideas about what you should or should not enjoy. The opposite can also be true: we can be conditioned to feel pleasure associated with things that are not good for us.
The basic experience gets distorted by misconceptions and misinterpretations of events that take what would be a simple mechanism for determining what is right for us and make it confusing. It would be wonderful if it were as easy as a pleasurable experience automatically being in alignment with your needs so you could say yes to it and welcome more of it into your life. And if it were not a pleasurable experience, then you could redirect and go in a different direction. Once we get past all of the conditioning, this is true—but that takes some time to do.
It may seem as if, given all this conditioning, it is impossible to trust how you feel about things. However, the trick is not to cast pleasure aside and start trying to figure out what is best through your mind, but instead to dive more deeply in and practice paying closer attention.
To use pleasure as a guide—and it is a very useful guide—you can start to pay attention to where you might be filtering or misinterpreting the information that’s coming in about what is pleasurable and thus learn about what does or does not work for you in any given situation. As you pay attention to all aspects of your experience around an event that you consider pleasurable, your understanding of what is pleasurable will become more refined. As we become more and more refined, it becomes easier to have that simple relationship with pleasure—if it feels good, then it is good for me. Then you will be able to use pleasure to cultivate the things, the people, places, situations, and activities that you want in your life.
As you do so, you will feel so much better and better in all aspects of your life because you are creating a life that is in alignment with you. And as you cultivate this, it will actually raise your overall energy. Your energy will start operating at a higher level, which continues the refinement process of your pleasure and allows you to really hone in on what is working for you and what is best for you through what feels good. And then your pleasure will become this incredibly valuable tool for creating a life that feels really good and is in alignment with who you are.
For ideas on designing a more pleasurable life, take a look at my article >>> “How to Bring More Pleasure into Your Day-to-Day Life”
1. Savor it! Actively focus on the parts of your life that are pleasurable. Receive the pleasure that is there. Do you ever notice that it is much easier to remember what went wrong? Counter this tendency by really allowing yourself to experience and remember the parts of your day that are pleasurable.
2. Start small and the pleasure will build on itself. Don’t make it a burden on your to-do list. Choose things that you can easily incorporate into your daily life. The pleasure and confidence that you receive from those small things will give you an energy boost in the direction of more pleasure.
3. Give yourself permission to do what you want, rather than what you think you should do.
4. What sparks you most regularly? Identify what brings you into your body and your senses. Is it deliciously flavored food? Soft fabrics? Beautiful artwork or surroundings? Find ways to surround yourself with that. Maybe you get an extra-ordinate amount of pleasure from having super soft sheets, using a fancy pen, having beautiful boxes for organization, or doing computer work outside. Find those small shifts that regularly please you and do that more.
5. Feeling more pleasure is not just about doing things – it is also about removing things. Tune into and adjust the things that add to the stress and tension in your life. Oftentimes, we feel stuck in these situations and let ourselves endure them. However, upon examination, another path appears. Look at the areas of your life that cause you the most stress and tension. Then, meditate on whether there is a way to add more spaciousness and joy to it or whether you need to cut it out altogether.
6. Do something you really love in the morning to start your day off right. If you are feeling good and centered in your heart and your senses, chances are you will find more opportunities for that during the day.
7. Experiment! Sometimes, we can have a hard time including pleasure in our life because it feels like we don’t have time or it will cause other problems in our life. Try an experiment for a day or two so that you feel comfortable letting go into it. Let yourself do everything you want to do that authentically brings you pleasure (think beyond overindulging in sweets and T.V.) and see what happens!
8. Regularly listen to music that you love. Intersperse music or dance breaks throughout your day.
9. Do something sweet for a stranger or someone that you love.
10. Find and incorporate something that ignites your childlike, playful spirit. Maybe it’s wearing a wig for part of the day, blowing bubbles, talking in gibberish, or rolling down a hill. Give yourself permission to play.
For ideas on designing a more pleasurable life, take a look at my article >>> “How to Bring More Pleasure into Your Day-to-Day Life”
Dedication to our path, whatever that looks like for us, is necessary for our continual advancement. However, this dedication, which gives us the inner resolve to stay the course regardless of what comes our way, needs to be in balance with our dedication to our self, which shows in how we care for ourselves in each and every step we take.
I have been blessed with unparalleled stamina and a resolve matched by few others. While that has been a backbone on which I can rely, it has been much more challenging to learn how to deeply care for and nourish myself.
I look around and see that I am not alone with this challenge.
When self-care is left out of the equation, we experience burnout, apathy, depression, and illness. Without self-care, we are unable to truly enjoy our lives, reap the rewards of our hard work, or experience real happiness.
Lack of self-care is nothing short of a denial of self. It is a strong statement of self-negation and has many roots. It is passed down through our lineage. It is taught to us through religion. It is born of our personal wounding.
Because of this, self-care is no small act. It turns centuries of indoctrination on its head. It lifts the weight of our negative childhood conditioning. This simple act of loving and caring for ourselves can be both an act of healing and an act of revolution all in one.
Our lack of ability to care for ourselves can look like many things: not allowing ourselves to rest when we are tired, eating the wrong foods or not eating the right ones, putting ourselves in bad environments or with less than ideal people. Regardless of whether you do not exercise or you stay in a job that is not right for you, there are underlying reasons why you do things this way. Some of these came from your childhood.
As a child, you may have been told that your tears were silly, or your requests for things may simply have been unanswered. These repeated messages told you to ignore your needs in order to to be safe, get approval, or maintain love. Even if you were not directly told to ignore your own needs—which many of you were—when you experienced any kind of wounding, the implied message in the wounding was that your needs did not matter.
This is a message that you likely believed.
As a result, you may continue to act as if your own needs are not important; you may continue to believe those who tell you that this is the case. Because of this, you may, in many small or large ways, not care for yourself.
But, the problem is even more than just devaluing your own needs. Through this process, you lose the fundamental mechanisms of meeting them—you forget how to receive and you forget what it feels like to be someone who is full and whole.
Your wounding creates a deep sense of unworthiness. And wherever you believe that you are unworthy, you will not allow the necessary care and nourishment for your expansion.
In the places where you are unable to attend to your needs, there is an emptiness, a frailness, a primary lack of ability to receive that blocks you from receiving the benefits of all you do. In essence, there is an unhealed place that is incapable of experiencing the joy, wonder, abundance, and other fruits of your life.
When you learn how to care for yourself, you heal the parts of yourself that were wounded in the past. You give yourself what you were unable to get at this other point in time. You show yourself a reality that is different than what you once experienced as possible.
As you commit to radically and completely caring for your needs, you are able to deeply feel not just the results of your specific efforts but all of life in a more deep and profound way. As you learn to deeply care for yourself, you unlock the door to your own happiness and return to the fullness of who you truly are.
For motivation to create self-care rituals in your life, take a look at my article >>> “13 Reasons Why Sensitive Souls Need Rituals”
Self care may be a buzzword today, but it hasn’t always been. Even concepts of “the self” are relatively young to public understanding. So how do we capitalize on today’s understanding of the self and practice self care in a way that will have the greatest impact?
According to author Caroline Myss, “the self” that we talk about today is an idea that emerged in the nuclear age. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that psychology and psychoanalysis became commonplace ways of thinking about people and their behavior. In turn, the rich inner-life that we all experience became just as real as our outer-world.
This new way of thinking about “the self” ushered in the birth of self-care. Until the 1950’s people didn’t talk about self-care. They didn’t think about balancing their everyday life demands with things that foster their well-being. Fast forward to today, and self-care is a multi-billion dollar industry and an everyday conversation.
I think that the conversation about self-care leaves out one major thing: and that’s inspiration. Inspiration is more than just happening upon a clever idea. It expresses our creativity and forges a path to real change in ourselves and in our world. When you’re inspired, you feel alive!
So how do we move beyond the self care suggestions to eat healthier and exercise more (good suggestions!) and learn more inspired ways to feed our spirit and nurture our soul? Get creative, and get in touch with YOU.
Feeding your soul is self-care. Self-care is all about honoring and caring for yourself in ways that matter most. When you’re able to practice inspired self-care your life becomes less of one huge to-do list and more of a field of abundant meaning and joy.
So take a look at the ways that you feel most enriched, and then put some real time and creative energy into creating some inspired self care practices for yourself. To get you started, here are 4 easy, rich, and deep ways YOU can bring more inspired self-care into your life.
Inspiration is within reach most of the time. So, cozy up to your inner-bard and write a poem about your partner, your child, or a good friend. See if you can capture what you love about them in this expressive form. If you brainstorm adjectives, qualities, or feelings you associate with this person, you’ll quickly create phrases that inspire you.
Say you’re sitting at home or taking a walk through your neighborhood. Look around you, and free associate with what you see. For example, if you see thin blades of long grass growing by a wall, maybe they remind you of a time when you saw a piece of beautiful graffiti on a wall with grass just like that. Perhaps the grass near the wall reminds you of the eerie beauty and loneliness of neglected things. Let yourself wander into your thoughts. You’ll be amazed where you wind up!
If your version of self-care is to take a bath, a walk in the woods, or get a massage, then it’s time to take it up a notch. Make a decadent, fantastic, and — yes — inspired experience for YOURSELF. Try new things. Mix and match your experience. Take a bubble bath with candlelight, wine, chocolate, the smell of jasmine, and opera music. Or, walk in the woods bundled in soft fabrics singing a song to yourself and noticing how the light hits things.
Tap into your inspiration and find something – or make something – that will let another person know how special they are to you. When you think about bringing pleasure to someone else’s life, you naturally think creatively and playfully about what’s in the world and how to use it. And even better, when you give a gift your heart opens up and you feel satisfied on a deeper level.
It’s too easy to let days slip by while we’re distracted from what matters most. So challenge yourself to spend an hour each week doing one of these activities. It won’t take long before you’ll feel more inspired and your spirit will feel more nourished. Help remind yourself by printing out this list of ideas!
Self-care helps me succeed and bring my best self to my work with you. I love what I do and all the lives I touch, but there is no denying that my job can sometimes be intense and draining. I put large portions of my self into my clients, my business, and my loved ones, which, if I’m not careful, leaves little time for me. After years of working without adding self care to my life mix, I realized that if I didn’t take care of myself one of two things would happen: either I was going to compromise my health or I was going to compromise my results in my business.
Self-care became my battle cry and I am now a steadfast devotee. Through practice, I’ve come to understand that, although practicing self-care can sometimes be difficult to fit into a busy day-to-day schedule, it’s merits are undeniable and necessary. When I made my practice of self-care a priority, both my health and my ability to get better results in my business increased. This was a win-win for my life. My strongest suggestion to help you be your personal best is: Self Care, Self Care, Self Care! Let yourself succeed. Self Care is an investment in your personal resources. Whether the achievement of your goals requires a lot or a little of your resources, you need to take care of your most important tool – yourself. Here is a list of 10 self care techniques you can use to be your personal best.
Movement and nutrition are essential to self care. Learn to lovingly and joyfully move your body. Dance, do yoga, stretch, walk or engage in more vigorous exercise. Feed yourself everything your body needs to be healthy. If you’re not sure what this is, start by drinking more water and eating more greens.
Both of these experiences have a positive effect on our overall wellbeing. They help us de-stress and relax. Animal’s playful and loving ways do wonders for our moods. And taking a walk in the woods can help us feel connected to the larger world. If you can’t get outside, get a plant, or two or three.
We’re wired 24/7 these days. We wake up and almost immediately look at our smartphone or TV. If you haven’t already put yourself on a technology diet, I’d suggest doing so. Limiting the amount of time you spend looking at screens can have a fabulous effect on your quality of life.
It takes two to tango. If you’re in a negative mindset, then chances are the people around you are too. Take some time to work on your mindset first. Bring more positivity into the way you think and speak. Then choose to be around people who reflect your new mindset, whether they are new acquaintances or not.
Nothing pulls your well-being down more than un-cleared anger and resentment towards others. The only person suffering from your negative thinking is you. People can be short-sighted and can sometimes make mistakes. Yet, holding onto the mistakes of others is the biggest mistake of all.
Spending time with people you love and doing fun things with them – especially things that include lots of laughter – is a wonderful way to relax and connect two important aspects of self care.
Obsessive thinking and worry are so commonplace that people think it’s normal to act and feel these ways. While common for sure, these are not healthy patterns. Learn to stop yourself when your worry or catastrophic thinking gets the better of you. Simply say stop and focus your mind on something more pleasant or productive.
Being of service is a powerful way to bring good feeling and wellbeing into your life. Service to others gives us a sense of purpose in the world. So, take a weekend to volunteer at a food bank, community garden or your local Habitat for Humanity. You’ll put some good juju in the world.
Sometimes you just need to tend to your emotional backlog. If you have a lot of built up emotion or if you’ve been dealing with a lot of stress, the best self care might actually be to throw a fit. Lie down on your bed and kick and hit the mattress with your arms and legs. Scream if it feels right. You’ll feel like a million bucks afterwards.
Nothing changes your attitude like gratitude. Take a moment every day to write or state at least three things that you’re grateful for. So many of us have so much to be thankful for. Remember this is a form of self care.
Download or print out this handy list and tack it somewhere you will see on the daily!