80-90% of self-care is an inside job.
This means that most of our self-care revolves around our internal processes. It’s about how we interact with ourselves, how we deal with our internal conflicts, how we process information from external circumstances, and how our history affects the way we go about this.
When we try to ‘do’ self-care by flitting from activity to activity, we’re neglecting to pay attention to the needs underneath and, most importantly set an intention for what we want to get out of our self-care.
Self-care is about knowing which needs we want to meet, how we want to feel, and seeking out nourishing and nurturing activities that will meet those needs and generate those feelings.
It’s not the vegan meditation yoga countryside retreat that we specifically need right now. What we’re yearning for when we desire something like that are the feelings it creates in us.
It’s important to distinguish between self-care and self-indulgence, or pampering:
Self-care is about acknowledging an unmet need or desired feeling. It is about a process. It's goal is lasting.
Self-indulgence is about feeling good. It is only about an outcome, which is often fleeting.
Many activities that conventionally file under the label ‘self-care’ (spa days, manicures, make-overs,and so on) are actually self-indulgence. There’s nothing wrong with self-indulgence, but it’s not necessarily going to help us meet our unmet needs.
In this way, self-indulgence is a lot like using coping strategies in place of self-care, and often involves meeting one or more of our needs at the expense of one or more of our other needs.
True self-care is about identifying and and taking steps to meet our needs without compromising other needs.
Self-care is about our relationship with ourselves. That means that wherever you are in your life, there are lots of ways you can ‘do’ self-care that don’t require a lot of time or money. What’s more important is setting the intention.