Love You and Why Self Care is So Hard

I use the hashtag “love you” a lot.  I wonder often if people mistake what I am actually saying.  It is not a statement, but rather a command.  I am calling you to action.

But do you head the call?  If you are like most people, no.  Why is that?  Sure, sure, sure you spout all the well intended quotes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup” but let’s be honest, do you follow through?  And who pours from a cup anyway?!

No you don’t.  You intend to right? Why is it so hard?  Well lets flip that over and take a good old look-see.  You have lots of demands.  Could be work, kids, family, spouse, friends, cleaning, cooking, life!  How does one fit in the time for themselves?  Fair enough argument.  Time is limited.  You can only do so much in a day.  However, let me punt back that argument.  Why is any of that more important than you? Especially cleaning!  I mean seriously Betty, put the feather duster down!

So the time argument doesn’t really hold up.  So maybe you say, “I mean too, but my day gets away from me and I run out of time.”  Okay legit.  But why did you put self care at the end of the day and not the beginning?  If you really are committed to self care, do it first.  Start your day off right! Right?

“I can’t do it in the morning, I don’t have time.  Mornings are too hectic!”   Ehhh –hem.  Alarm clocks have been around since 1787 (I know right?!) set your clock 20 minutes early and do something for yourself.

But… but.  Yep.  I thought so.  So I have knocked holes in all your arguments, but that doesn’t really help answer why it is so hard.  The reality is, I don’t know.  But what I do know, is that it is pretty critical.  We run and we run and we do and we do and collapse at the end of the day and sometimes we love our lives but often we just don’t.  We don’t hate it.  But we sure don’t love it. And that is not fair on so many levels.

What if you had 10 minutes every day.  Every single day that fed you?  Sure would you still run and run, but at least you could think when your head is spinning and you can’t think straight…”in just 2 hours I can…”  And self care can look totally different to different people.  For me it would be a long hot bath, yoga or meditation.  For someone else it would be a walk in the woods.  For my husband it is a run.    Self care can be anything that makes you feel joy.  And feeling joy… isn’t that the point of all of this? Really?

What if even you didn’t put yourself at the top of the list but you at least got on the list? Just.Got.On.The. Damn.List.  Radical.  I know. It feels all kinds of itchy right?  But… but.  Yeah. I know, but I don’t know why.

But what I would tell you is that you should be your own best friend or your own mother.  If you have a child imagine your child, if you don’t, imagine the person you love the very very most in this world.

This person is overwhelmed to the brink of tears.  You see them stressed and frustrated. You see how hard they are working to take care of all their obligations.  You worry for them.  It all seems a bit too much.  Then they say, “You know I am going to….”  You think, “Thank God! They really should do something for themselves!  They need a break.”  And then later they say, “Never mind, I don’t have time.” What would you say to them?  I want you to imagine sitting face to face, knee to knee with that person holding their hands looking them dead in the eye.  What would you say?

I know what I would say.  I would say, “Oh my sweet angle.  Stop.  Stop right now.  None of this matters!  I know it feels like the world will fall apart if you don’t get your homework (or whatever) done.  But lets imagine the worst case scenario.  The worst case scenario is you don’t do it.  What happens then?  Does the world end?  Do I love you any less? Does daddy?  Do your friends love you less? No.  So if the world does not end and no one loves you any less, can that thing that has you are so stressed about really be worth more than YOU? “

So figure out what you would say.  Then write that shit DOWN.  And every time you try to opt out of self care pull it out and look at it.   When you do, imagine the person that loves you most in the world is saying it to you, knee to knee, holding your hand, looking your right in the eye.  And by god…LISTEN.

Embrace Your Inner Weirdo and Become Authentically Vulnerable!

I have had two totally separate conversations recently that have me thinking about these things we call connection and authenticity.  As fate would have it, both conversations were around social media and engagement. The irony is not lost on me… trust me.

The conversations just kept kicking around in my head. What gets people to connect? What draws us to people?

We grow up being told to put our best foot forward. Have you ever really thought about what that means? To me, best foot can mean any and all of the following:

  • Hair perfectly done
  • Makeup on point
  • Clothes properly pressed
  • Shoulders back
  • Perfect posture
  • Smiling at the rude comments
  • Ignoring the passive insult

Have you ever stopped to think, “Is that really the goal?” I’m not suggesting, even for a second, that there is not a time and place for being polished. There is. I mean, don’t go to that job interview in your pjs (though that is kind of a dreamy thought, no?).

But is it the every day, every moment goal? I say no.The goal is NOT to only present our bestness.

The goal is to be vulnerable.

The goal is to be authentic.

Think about it. You see that woman at a party. You know the one. She’s centerfold beautiful. You know what really sucks; she’s fricking nice. I mean… nice nice. Ooey gooey nice. Bitch.

If you’re like me, you admire her. You might even envy her a bit. Right?  Okay… let’s be totally honest, we have that big old measuring stick out and who’s falling short? I am!  Ughhh. And how does that make me feel? Like shit.

So she is putting her best foot forward, right? We can all agree on that. But what sense of connection are you really having with that “bestness”? None. Admiration is not connection. Envy… that’s really not connection. In fact, all the things you are coveting about her… that best foot is actually counterproductive to connection. We cannot connect to “bestness”.

So here you are, both at this party, and then the façade slips… just a little. She goes to take a sip of wine and manages to pour it down the front of her dress (who has done that? Can I get a holla? Oh just me… damn).  You can see she’s mortified. She’s red-cheeked and you know if there was a rock handy, she’d crawl under it. How are you feeling now about her?

Or maybe the façade slips a fair amount? Maybe she shares that these sorts of events make her nervous because she never knows quite what to say?

She grabs your hand and says, “I am so glad you are here though, you’ve been so easy to talk to.”

How do you feel about her now?

Or maybe she is sipping a tic too much wine and the façade falls totally away?  Maybe you both tipsy-talk about the challenges of marriage and she shares she has been in counseling for a year, but she doesn’t see much change? You tell her about this amazing therapist that you feel saved your marriage. She writes the name and number down.

When you leave, she hugs you like she doesn’t want to let go and says, “thank you.”

How do you feel about her now?

The great connector is not perfection. The great connector is letting the veil down. It’s making ourselves vulnerable. It’s showing our authentic self… messy and imperfect.

We connect over shared sorrows, struggles, and joys.

So why is that vulnerability so hard?

I think there are a lot of reasons, really. Some of it might be the feeling of “what if?” What if I am totally authentic and they don’t like me? I mean, if you just put your best foot forward and someone rejects it, they’re really rejecting your fake foot, not you. There’s safety in that.

Of course, the other side of that coin is if they accept you, they’re not really accepting YOU, are they?

Damn that coin.

I think the other, more complex part of this has to do with unconditional love.

Think about it. Most of us have little to no concept of that. We say, “I love you” with an expectation or hope. We want to hear it back, right?  That’s the condition. We’re, for some reason, afraid to put love out there that might not be returned.  

What if you could put love out there and just not care what the outcome was?

Think about it. I want you to imagine everyone you encounter and just give them love—be it a compliment, a hug, or a listening ear. Maybe you tell a co-worker how much you love working with them? Or the lady on the elevator that always gives you the nicest smile? What if you told her you loved her smile? What if you just didn’t care if she thought you were weird or didn’t care if she liked you? You just gave her love.

What if?  That would be your authentic self. I think we have this feeling that our authenticity lies in our darkness. It doesn’t. It lies in our love. It lies in our vulnerability. It lies most surely in our imperfection. Imperfection isn’t darkness.  It’s humanity. Maybe even a gift? 

What if it’s the drink spilling-socially awkward-drank too much-over shared part of you—the part you are hating so damn hard. What if that’s what has allowed every connection you have ever had.

What if all you hated about YOU, was all that allowed the people you hold dear to feel safe trying to love you?

Go forth and