Spring is a time of renewal, freshness, and rebirth. Ahhhhh, those words are very much welcome after a long, cold winter. Although Winter is a vital part of the renewal process, it can sometimes bring with it feelings of bareness and isolation, as we tend to stay inside and away from the brutal climate that is right outside our doors. Often, being alone with our thoughts brings up all sorts of emotional surprises that, if welcomed with a sense of curiosity, yield incredible opportunities to learn more about our REAL selves. Where do we experience shame? How can we practice self-forgiveness? Are we focusing on things that are within our control, or trying to control circumstances outside of our sphere of influence? Where do we struggle with perfectionism? How does shame and disconnection show up in our life experiences?
Brene Brown once said, “Where we struggle with perfectionism, we struggle with shame.” WOW. Talk about feeling called-out! So, you mean to tell me, where I feel the urge to be the most perfect is exactly where I feel the most shame? And where I feel the most shame, I harbor the most fear of inadequacy, or a lack of love and compassion for myself? Geez, I could have saved myself a lot of $$$ on counseling if I had know that a long time ago. In the past, I have struggled with perfectionism surrounding my body, my appearance, and my resume, aka, looking good on paper. I had been unkind to myself because I didn’t feel worthy or good enough being who I was. I felt like I needed to be more, have more, or do something different to be worthy. I didn’t know that self-forgiveness was something that I desperately needed to do, and that deeply taking care of myself was something I needed as much as water and oxygen.
Then I discovered what self-care really is, how it truly works. It is what I like to call the New Self-Care. For me, taking care of myself isn’t what we traditionally think of, like getting a massage every now and then, or taking a bubble bath on occasion (although those things are fabulous!). New Self-Care is about being brave enough to shine a bright, loving, and curious light in the deepest, darkest corners of my soul. The purpose is to expose what is behind the shadows of shame that I have been masking with perfectionism. I thought wanting to look perfect, or BE perfect, was what I was supposed to do. I learned how to appreciate and welcome those feelings of anxiety, fear, and shame, and listen to what they had to tell me. Believe it or not, our most uncomfortable feelings are the ones that are there to offer us the biggest gifts! Through being gentle and loving with my most shameful parts, I learned how to heal, how to be patient with myself, and ultimately, how to wholeheartedly love myself. THIS is Self-Care. Caring enough about myself to finally shine light on my “shame shadows” not only transformed my life, but also allowed me to redefine what self-care means to me.
Diving deep into our most vulnerable and shameful parts isn’t easy. It can be scary and a painful. However, learning how to take care of ourselves in a way that is meaningful and lasting requires this type of New Self-Care. Massages and pedicures are great, but allowing ourselves the opportunity to heal and love who-we-really-are is what is true, real, and the epitome of taking care of ourselves.