We all lose our way sometimes. I’m most vulnerable to this when I place other’s opinions and values above my own. Especially as a mother, it’s far to easy to fall into this trap of believing that you are “wrong” and “bad”, rather than seeing that it’s hard for all of us and we’re all trying our best. I struggle with these feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt and the only remedy that I’ve found is spending some intentional time and energy appreciating myself. There’s no substitute either. My husband can tell me everyday what a great job I’m doing (and he usually does) but I have to believe it for myself.
It’s what I refer to as emotional maintenance and if you ask me, it is the most important part of self-care. It’s taking time to identify and re-identify your values and intentions as well as knowing and embracing the things that make you tick. For me, this requires some regular check ins; taking stock of my priorities and values. What am I spending my time and energy on? Does this serve me and my family? Am I making decisions to appease other peoples’ preferences?
The other day, I was reminded of two important aspects of my personality when I was digging around in my office, looking for something. I stopped to admire these two small cross-stitched hoops hanging on my wall. They are always there but I don’t always notice them. They were gifted to me by a wonderful, former co-worker who made them as a gesture of appreciation.
In looking at these, I felt a surge of pride and self-worth, at a time when I was feeling confused and insecure – “Get your poop in a group” and “Every girl is my sister”. These may seem odd to others so let me explain their meaning.
“Get your poop in a group” is another way of saying “get your shit together”. Get organized, get with it, do you. An extension of this is that I’m a “get stuff done” kind of person. I value the hustle and work-ethic. I’m creative and artistic but I’m also adamant about channeling this in an organized, constructive and usually productive fashion. I don’t like spinning my wheels too much. It bogs me down to be stuck in idea or thinking mode for too long. I like movement and momentum and action (and this is probably why meditation is so important for me because it provides the balance I need).
So, “Every girl is my sister“? Another thing about me is that I deeply value the fostering of community, especially among women and girls. I believe in sisterhood and building each other up rather than tearing each other down. It’s that simple.
While I don’t have it stitched into a hoop, I’m also a social introvert. This is a third pillar of my personality. I love people but I need my time alone to recharge. So this presents many challenges for me and sometimes I feel insecure about it or worse yet, I neglect this detail about myself and end up angry, resentful and burnt out because I’m giving too much and losing my inward focus. Ultimately when I embrace this fact, I can appreciate that it is what makes me a thoughtful, introspective person.
These are three cores values about me, ones that I don’t want to compromise on. I like these traits about myself. Maybe some of you share one or all of these values or maybe you don’t identify with any of them. That’s okay! The world would be a pretty bland place if we all made the same decisions, lived the same life and held the same beliefs. BLAH! I mean there’s a whole aside here about accepting one another’s differences and embracing diversity but another time…
The point is, I don’t think we spend enough time loving ourselves and admiring the traits that make us good people.
As a woman, I’ve always felt the pressure to conform to sexist standards of beauty and domesticity but I feel this even stronger as a mother. There is a constant stream of conflicting messages out there and if you’re tuned in and eager to measure up, you will undoubtedly unravel trying to meet every check point. It’s utter BS and yet, it has a powerful hold on most of us. It gets us where and when we’re most vulnerable.
This is why we need to put in meaningful time with ourselves; appreciating our gifts, talents, personality quirks and experiences. Self-care is necessary and important, but self-love is the radical act that can really make all the difference.
So I would invite you to take some time today or tomorrow, but do it soon, okay?! Think about the traits or talents that make you tick and list 3 of them. Heck! If you have the skill or desire, cross-stitch them onto a hoop! Or simply write them down and stick them on your mirror or wall. Create that visual reminder. It might feel cheesy, uncomfortable or even narcissistic to do so, but I urge you to try it anyway and I guarantee it gets easier with practice and it’s the only way to ensure that you’re living your life and not someone else’s.