I was thinking recently about why we equate pampering with self-care. Why is it that little acts of grooming lift the spirit? Why does wearing that pink lipstick, or having your hair or nails done, or buying a new outfit feel so good?
Pampering, or investing time into grooming is a form of validation. It is a conscious investment of time, energy, money, etc. into yourself. When you invest in yourself you are telling yourself “I’m worth it!” You are literally validating your own worth when you put time into your appearance.
There are extremes, of course, where putting too much time into your looks becomes a crutch for insecurity from not feeling like you have anything to offer except your appearance. This can manifest from not feeling good enough unless you spend inordinate amounts of time “perfecting” yourself. And it’s the distraction our culture sells in abundance! You better not post on social media unless you put your best foot forward—perfect outfit, perfect, hair, perfect makeup—or you’ll be judged, and you’ll never be a success, and no one will want to hear a word you have to say. They’ll just scroll on by. (I’ve actually found that not to be the case. Strangely, the moments I’m most vulnerable and imperfect are the times most people respond and share. Hmmm….)
Most of us feel that pressure to present ourselves perfectly, but actually live the opposite extreme, where we don’t spend enough time on ourselves. And that neglect screams unconscious messages like: You’re not enough. You’re not worth the time. You’re not important!
Is it any wonder we feel a sense of lack in our lives?
Oh, and if we could only see how much that affects everything!
There are many ways to self-care, and pampering is just one of them. I personally don’t feel it should be the only mode of self-care, because unless it’s done consciously and with intent, it’s not as enduring or deep as other forms of self-care—the kinds that reach deep into the soul and really nourish, like intentional stillness, meditation, self-reflection, spiritual connection with Deity, journaling, Yin Yoga, conscious forms of self-expression that release pent up emotion, like singing and art, or even sports.
Like all things in life there are two sides, the external and internal. I think a balance of pampering and soul nurture is the best combination of self-care. It really expresses to the Self that you are important—your well-being is important; your whole person is important, inside and out.
So why don’t we do it?
A lot of people (especially women) say they don’t have the time. We are definitely busy. But I’m gonna have to say that busy is an excuse. Any of us can make time for anything if we see the value in it and want it bad enough, or if it suddenly becomes important enough.
Say for example, a health crisis hits. Suddenly you not only find time to exercise and eat healthily, there’s no time not to do those things. They become a priority out of necessity. So why couldn’t they be a necessity without the extreme of a health crisis? Why do humans wait till the bomb drops before they acknowledge the problem? It’s crazy! And I don’t know anyone (myself included) who doesn’t do this in some aspect of their life.
But the reality is, if you are willing to sacrifice you can have just about anything you want. But do you really want to feel good? Do you really want to feel worthwhile? What will happen if you honor yourself and begin to feel great? Even confident? I mean, if you begin to feel powerful then you can’t play the victim role anymore. You no longer have excuses for not pursuing your dreams or getting things done. People may not like the new you; you may lose friends. And maybe that’s too heavy a price to pay. Or maybe your just comfortable in patterns of self-neglect. But everything has a pay-off, so it’s prudent to ask oneself what that payoff is.
What payoff do you get from not taking care of yourself?
It’s a painful question, I know. . .
. . . but the truth shall set you free.
I also know I’m being bold, maybe even a little antagonistic-sounding, but I’m not trying to antagonize. The truth is I’ve hidden behind “not good enough” for most of my life. And as I have begun to really, deeply self-care on new levels, it has changed the way I think about myself and my possibilities. And that can be a scary thing. It really is easier (in the short run) to just keep so busy you don’t have to think about it or act. But what is the future cost? That’s for each individual to decide. I, for one, have wasted too much time neglecting myself over the years. And now that I’ve spent some time on the self-care path, I’m not going back.
I encourage you to look at your life and find both an internal and external way to care for your body and soul at a new level. It really is life-changing!