Self-care. Does the term make you want to cringe? Kinda, right? There are so many self-care moments, and self-care Sunday posts filling up everyone’s feed that sometimes it looks like self-care is just about finding another skincare solution.
But you know what? It’s not. Self-care is the deepest form of honouring yourself. And there is one guiding principle that I use to keep me on the path of self-care and off the treacherous trail of self-control.
Self-care is about how we choose to participate in life’s process of renewal and change.
We all want change—and that’s a good thing. It’s 100% normal and healthy to look around your life, the world and think about what you’d like to change. I want to change my house. I want to change politicians. I want to change my hair colour. I want to change the weather. You couldn’t stop wanting change if you tried, and that’s a wonderful thing.
I was pretty focused on change for a long time. Changing my skin (which I thought was terrible), changing my thoughts and feelings, changing the people around me.Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. My skin changed and healed—that’s true. Many of my thoughts and feelings also changed, mostly for the better. But a lot of the time, the things I most wanted to change —surprise, surprise—just weren’t budging. The harder I tried to change something the worse it got.
Probably none of this will be a new flash to you. I can’t imagine you’re shocked to hear that’s it’s a fool’s errand to try and control other people, but what if I told you it’s just as futile to try and control anything?
Growing up, I learned from watching Oprah and Dr. Phil that you can’t change anyone.The harder you try the more likely they’re just going to end up resenting you for your efforts. But what Oprah and Dr. Phil really meant is that you can’t control anyone.
Change is the universal force that flows through everyone and everything. Change is natural. Control is not.
I thought I just wanted things in my life to change, but the truth is what I really wanted was control. But what else did I learn from Oprah? Control is an illusion. Well, that wasn’t really Oprah (it’s actually Buddhist) but you can imagine her saying it right?!
Here's what I know in my bones to be true: it's vitally important to know why you want change. So here’s my challenge to you, and it’s the same one I made to myself. Can you take a minute and be really honest with yourself about what’s fuelling that desire to change? Hint: it’s either a desire for control, or a desire for growth.
Asking yourself why you want change is a simple question, but the answer is everything.
That answer is going to inform how you will treat yourself, and others. Either you have a desire for control, or a desire for growth. One side is about self-care, and the other is about self control. You can probably guess which one is which.
Wanting something to change comes from one of two feelings; either a desire for growth, or a desire for control.
A desire for control pushes everything farther away because control is rooted in judgement. Someone, something, or some situation just ain’t right, and by God I’m the one to FIX IT! You've just embarked on the journey of trying to control yourself.
A desire for growth pulls you into the ever-renewing constantly evolving flow of life.
Everything that exists on this earth is experiencing growth and change right now. Self-care is when you decide to team up with this incredible force to experience greater and more fully anything you wish. Here’s the fine print though: you have to give up control of the outcome. That my friends is the scary part. I know.
I’m going to tell you something that I don’t really talk about. For seven and a half years my husband I having been trying to have a family. That’s about 90 months of hoping for a pregnancy and being disappointed. I wish I could tell you this story has a happy ending, something along the lines of but here I am writing to you now with twins playing on the floor but the truth is I don’t know how this will work out for us.
It’s an experience that's truly taught about how to give up self-control and embrace self-care. Time to really practice what I preach on the deepest, hardest levels. This, sweet people, has been my big lesson to understand.
I’m telling you this because I know that if I’m going through this I know there is at least one of you that’s going through something similar—facing something really hard in life, and no matter how much you try and change it, it doesn’t work. I’m sorry, I know it’s hard. But I’m sharing my bit of wisdom because I hope it helps you too (and no, there will be no super-secret recipe for a smoothie that guarantees you’ll be pregnant by next month because I promise I’ve tried them all and if it existed I’d know about it!).
Give up control and give in to growth. Give up trying to control yourself and give into caring for yourself.
For me control was about a desire to change something because I’ve judged it to be wrong. It needs to be fixed. I’m not pregnant—that’s bad, I need to fix it. Well, I’m a solution-minded person and I can go deep down the bunny hole of searching for solutions. I’ve been to the bottom of that hole and I’m here to tell you there’s no solutions for fixing down there. Nothing fits or works because no solution will fix judgement and a need for control. There’s no balm, salve or smoothie to soothe the fearful need for control.
Once I stripped away all of the judgement I’d put upon myself, and took a good hard look at my fear, I could let go of control. And I can tell you, there’s peace in choosing growth. There’s peace in knowing that this situation just is what it is. I am just who I am That doesn’t mean that I still don’t want change. And nor should you stop wanting change. Change is the inevitable evolution of life. The important decision we all get to make is choose what kind of relationship you want to have with that force of change. Are you looking to join hands with change and growth, or are you here looking for a life hack for control? Self-care is a partnership. Self-control a police-state.
I’m ok with how I’m evolving now because I know I’m no longer growing from fear and a need for control, but out of love. Self-care is how I got to that love. Practicing it helped me to feel the difference between control and growth, and to start to move down the yellow brick road of caring for myself rather than down the tumble weed track of self-control.