Buying something nice for yourself, planning a vacation, or getting organized can feel good. And you know there are times when those things barely scratch the surface of what you actually need.
These are times where all you want to do is avoid, fix or stop what you are feeling. You want relief.
These moments can even inconspicuous. You find yourself wanting a treat. You waste time doing non-sense because you are struggling to focus on what really needs your attention. You look for ways to get ego cookies. You are contacting all your friends to see who can hang out. You try to get some kind of validation from your partner or your kids. You find yourself binging every TV show you can find that is even mildly interesting. Your thoughts are racing or all over the place. You distract yourself thinking about how other people are not doing it right or caring about you enough.
These can be tiny moments that add up. Or they can be big emotional waves or crises.
Caring for yourself is just ONE THING. ONE.
That one thing is giving yourself your own attention.
What does that mean?
It means meeting yourself exactly where you are.
Like: “Oh, I’m doing a million things to avoid how I feel right now. I feel overwhelmed (and I think I shouldn’t be).”
Hi. There you are. You are in that moment. Acknowledging what is actually happening for you.
Stop what you are doing as soon as you can. And just feel what is happening in your body. The knot in your throat, the tension in your back, the pit in your stomach, the heaviness in your chest, your dizzy head.
For 30 seconds. For 60 seconds.
Focus on whatever that sensation is. Give it your undivided attention.
You don’t need to dig deep and figure out what it is all about. You don’t need to be in therapy for 100 years. Just your attentive presence is enough.
And it will subside as you are with it. There might be other waves, maybe even two minutes from then, but it will go down.
You do physically uncomfortable things ALL THE TIME. You wait to use the restroom to make it through your meeting. You don’t give yourself time to eat and the hunger pain is real. Or you eat way too much and that pain is real. You push yourself in a workout. You delay going to sleep when you badly need it. You stub your toe even.
What is 30 to 60 seconds of feeling the physical aspect of that feeling you have been doing EVERYTHING to avoid?
We don’t do it because we don’t realize how simple this is or know that we can make it through. Being with what is really happening for you means that your experience is acknowledged. And, then it can literally be done for now. You can conserve all that time and energy you were using to try and get away from it.
No one is going to feel it or get it like you do. No one. And that is all you want… for someone to get it. What if that can be you? For under 2 minutes.
That is self care.
This does not mean that we do not need connection with others. We do. We are open circuits that help to regulate one another when there is an attuned connection. And, we need to know how to care for ourselves just as much. It’s a vital life skill.
The bonus here is the insight that tends to bubble to the surface following these moments of presence. We spend all this time with racing thoughts, trying to figure things out and trying to stop the pain.
If we are just with ourselves for those short moments, answers come in.
And these answers are usually higher quality solutions that come from a LOT less effort.