A mentor recently challenged me to come up with a plan for what I wanted to accomplish this month. As I considered my options, I felt a pull from inside to do something radically different. Instead of driving myself to create more things in the external world, my inner voice was telling me to focus on my internal world.
I had been striving to pay more attention to my self, so the timing was perfect. Since I was finally listening, I heard what my self told me. The message it sent was that it needed the month of May devoted to self-care.
I have not always listened to my self. Instead, I have pushed my self very hard over the years, expecting my self to adapt to the stress of living a demanding life. It goes along with the plan for awhile, trying to comply. Yet, it intuitively knows that a life so packed with “doing” allows no time for “being”. Doing is necessary, but when doing is everything, my self balks at the imbalance.
Over the past few years, I have been on a journey of learning how to truly listen to my self. This year, I even started working with an Inner Voice Coach who is helping me to hone my skills. It is truly fascinating work! I continue to be amazed at how immediate the results can be when I listen to my inner voice and allow it to be the driver in my life.
When I told him about my plan to devote this month to self-care, he challenged me even further. “Don’t do what you would normally do.” was his advice. “Do something different from your usual routine every single day, and don’t make it just about May. Use this month to usher in a lasting shift.”
Of course, that was already my plan, but I let him think he thought of it first. What I hadn’t thought of, though, and that I absolutely had to give him credit for, was the suggestion to purposefully alter my routine in some way every single day. Now, that, was a stroke of genius!
At first, I had only envisioned adding more self-care things to each day. I thought going for more walks, getting massages, taking leisurely baths, or painting my toenails would suffice. Yet, I immediately saw that adding a little something in here and there, while keeping my routine what it has always been, would not cause the significant shift that I needed.
Armed with this insight, as soon as I got home from work last night I did something radically different. Normally, I would start right in on household chores the second I stepped through the door. Instead, I did something fun. I played a game of darts with my self on the new dart board that a friend gave me four months ago, and that we finally mounted on the wall four weeks ago, and that we started using only just four days ago.
It is embarrassing how long it took to put everything in place so my self could start doing something as simple as play darts! I am even more embarrassed to admit that it took 52 years for me to understand that self-care involves more than just diet, exercise and hygiene. Those are important, but true self-care goes beyond the superficial.
I can’t believe my self has put up with me being so neglectful for this long. In fact, it makes me feel truly sorry for my self! And, as any mature person knows, a real apology involves not just words, but a lasting change in behavior. Self… you deserve better!