Self-Care Is A Mindset, Not A To-Do List

If you’re looking for things to do for self-care, you can find a ton of listicles. I was going to make my own until I thought, Who needs another to-do list?

Self-care is something we need to do, but it’s not rooted in performing tasks.

Self-care is behavior that follows the mindset of treating yourself with the love and respect you deserve as a human being.

There are some things you need to know about self-care.

Proper Self-Care Starts With Looking Inward

How can we properly care for someone we don’t know?

There’s an entire world going on inside of each and every one of us that many never pay attention to.

That inner world runs our lives, and it’s a messy place because life is messy. Our minds and emotions are often subjected to misinformation and injury.

We need to look inside, know who we are, and intentionally become involved in what’s going on there.

And once you start, there are two different kinds of self-care you can begin engaging in: internal repair and maintenance.

Self-Care As Internal Repair And Healing

This is first because everyone needs internal repair and healing to some degree. Yes, everyone.

We all accumulate and internalize negative views of ourselves. These speak a nasty inner dialogue to us. They are damaging and need to be repaired or they’ll make us miserable and steal all our dreams.

I know from experience. I needed to listen to how I talked to myself. I needed to pay attention to what I was thinking and find out why.

There’s a reason, a source of the negativity. This reason has to be dragged out into the light and destroyed.

Slaying your reason begins your healing.

It’s important to embrace your imperfections. Nobody’s perfect.

Identifying the negative inner dialogue isn’t enough though. It needs to be replaced with positive truth. Practice believing new thoughts that enforce your value. Use your imagination to see them as true in your life. Say them out loud over and over until they become a part of you.

Changing how you think about yourself takes a lot of work but the payoff is amazing.

Self-Care As Maintenance

Maintenance self-care is continuing to treat yourself with the love and respect you deserve as a human being. This is where the listicles can be helpful, as they often recommend going for a walk, smiling at yourself in the mirror, taking a hot bath, meeting up with a friend, going to bed early, and starting a gratitude jar.

It’s necessary to remember that there is no perfect way to practice self-care because it’s not about the to-do list.

It’s about how you treat yourself.

There is no self-care routine you can perform on your outsides that will take care of an attitude of self-loathing, negative or shaming inner dialogue, untended traumas, or self-harming behaviors. Those require inner work.

When you’ve dealt with the inner and can live in maintenance mode, you’re able to do two things. One is you can come alongside those who are in need of inner repair and healing to help them, and the second is you get to enjoy the fruit of having done your hard work.

Bad Things Will Happen—Learn To Tend To The Aftermath

When bad things happen, we often suffer injury, loss, or sometimes trauma. It happens more than most realize.

Seventy percent of adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives. This equates to approximately 223.4 million people.

That’s a lot of people.

Emotional and mental wounds are as real as broken bones and deserve proper care to heal.

Disregarding and minimizing trauma or soul injury won’t rip it out of the timeline of your life. On the contrary, the wound will go underground, hiding in the back of your mind and emotions, where it will fester and become toxic.

If you refuse to tend to it, it will come back to bite you like a rabid animal.

Embrace the feelings you’re dealing with instead of slapping on the band-aid of it’s not a big deal or just get over it.

Get help if you need it. Sometimes we need to be carried. There’s no shame in asking for help. Talk with someone you can trust and unload the pain, confusion, shame, fear, etc. Tending to your inner wounds takes a lot of work and bravery.

Sometimes, as you peel back layers of pain, you find more underneath that’s been hidden for a long time. These inner wounds require validation and empathy to begin to heal.

Once You’ve Done The Work, You Can Enjoy The Fruits Of Your Labor

Doing the hard work of self-care is worth the effort because it will bear good fruit in your life. You taste its sweetness when you respond in a positive manner where you used to be negative.

For example, one day while I was writing, I lost track of time. Because of this, I was late to a meet-up with a group of writer friends online for our weekly cross promotion.

Due to my hurried state and inner anxiety, I shared the wrong link for the promo. One of them inquired about it and I burst out laughing, which escalated into hilarious laughter as I recognized I was able to laugh at myself—because I had learned how to do it with self-care.

There was a time when I would have reacted by being horrified at myself and spewed awful inner dialogue. I might have even cried.

Being able to laugh at your own mistakes is sweet fruit! I needed internal repair and healing and I did the hard work.

Proper self-care requires us to know who we are, accept ourselves, and treat ourselves with honor.

About the author
Author of Emerging With Wings, Because You Matter, A Bird Named Payn.. Follow Danielle on Instagram or read more articles from Danielle on Thought Catalog.

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