Self-Care or Self-Sabotage

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In my Life by Design workshop the first exercise is to fill in a typical week on a planner and then we go through together and highlight each type of activity to see where everyone is actually spending their time.  We highlight everything from household activities, to commuting, to taxiing (there is a difference), to self-care, to faith and everything in between.  It’s amazing for folks to really see how much or little they do of each type of activity.

In a recent workshop, one of the attendees colored in her entire evening, every evening, with the color for self-care.  At first glance, that would seem incredibly enviable to the others in the room that were bummed when I told them that taking a shower couldn’t count as self-care, and thus they didn’t have anything to color.

But when I prompted her more, her response was, “I watch TV all night after I get home from work, so that is self-care.”

Is it?

When I have one of those days where I leave before the kids get up, and return after they go to bed and I’ve ran myself ragged.  What is the first thing that I want to do?

Listed in no particular order…get drive thru, eat ice cream right out of the container, watch a mind numbing amount of TV, while reading “articles” on Facebook.

You get the picture.

But is that self-care?

I would like to convince myself that it is, but if I want to be honest with myself, most of the times it’s actually self-sabotage.

To live a life by design, we need to know what the end game is.  What we are working towards.  And again, that is absolutely different for all of us.

It’s no different then designing an addition to your house.  You don’t just magically add on 500 square feet overnight and have it fully completed and furnished.  There are dreams to sort through, practical notions to consider, contractors to interview and hire, materials to purchase…and so on.  There is work involved, and time, and energy, and a vision.

The same goes for your life.  You need to do the work, give the time, and have the vision to get to the life that is most fulfilling for you.  And you can’t just work on it on the days that you are “bright eyed and bushy tailed” as my father would say.  Because, let’s be honest, how many nights past bedtime do you feel that way?

So by falling into potential ruts and traps and calling them self-care, is only putting us further behind on our construction schedule.  And there are costs associated with delays.

And don’t get me wrong, I am the FIRST person that knows that breaking old habits is incredibly hard.  Eating ice cream out of the container is just so easy…and it feels so good.  At least in the moment.

And that in there lies the difference between the two.

Self-care is when we take care of ourselves with an eye towards the future, propping ourselves up, working towards our design. Where as self-sabotage is when we are actually partaking in destructive behavior that is meant to placate us for our instant gratification.

Now before you start sending me hate mail, I’m not saying that you can’t ever eat ice cream while watching TV, that is not practical.   We just all need to have positive self-care activities planned that are easy to access that get us closer to our “designs” and in touch with what matters most in our lives–be it a new venture, family, faith, mindfulness, etc.  Ideas for me would be more time spent writing, doing yoga, meditating, cooking, coloring, reading, and cuddling.

And that’s the key. If we don’t have them figured out and ready to go before we need them, bon bons and drive thru will always win because they are easy and comfortable.

So what are 5 self-care activities that you can think of to do on your next “OMG” kind of night that you will enjoy in the moment and the next morning?

Interested in starting your 2018 with a day of reflection getting you in line with your life by design?  Check out my “Own Your Story” mid-week retreat on January 11th.


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