Regardless of how hard we try, life can intrude upon our best laid plans and we can lose our grasp on the activities that help keep us healthy and happy. Once off track, it becomes even easier to get more off track as each infraction depletes us until we no longer feel very good. Remembering what to do when we start to get off track to take care of ourselves is so important. Being able to discern between what might just feel good (self-indulgence) and what will truly get us back on track (self-care) is key.
There is a sneaky underbelly to self-care. Sometimes what we call self-care is actually self-indulgence, sabotage, or avoidance. How do we tell the difference between what honors and takes care of us and what might just be another reason we are not where we want to be.
Self-care is an activity that strengthens, nourishes, or develops who we are at our core. It supports us in the full expression of our essence. Self-indulgence is something that feels really good but does not have additional benefits beyond feeling good. It is an activity that gives us momentary pleasure but does not move us in the direction of our full expression.
It does not so much matter what it is that we are doing as much as the effect that it is having on us. One person’s self-care might be another person’s self-indulgence. A self-care act one day might turn into self-indulgence if used too often.
To be able to tell the difference, we need to develop our capacity to feel the difference. Just as we can taste the difference in food that has a high nutrient content and food that is relatively empty, we can begin to tell the difference between the activities that truly are self-care and those that are just nice distractions. As we practice acts of self-care we become more and more attune to what it really is and more adept at choosing what is in service of what we really want.
If you are uncertain about whether your actions are self-care actions, you can gain clarity by asking yourself the question: Am I getting closer to feeling the way that I want to feel or reaching the goals that I am trying to reach? If you can answer yes you are likely taking self-care actions. If your answer is maybe or no, then you are likely caught up in some kind of self-indulgence.
If you want to return to your self-care after a time of self-indulgence, connect in with the core of who you are and ask yourself what activities will strengthen, nourish or develop this essence. Take the next step and learn more!