I recently began a workshop series for women on Self-Care. I did this because it was evident in my coaching practice (and my own life) how difficult it is for us to place ourselves at the top of our own priorities list. For months, sessions have centered around the extreme exhaustion clients are feeling because of little self-care. Clients report feeling depleted and overwhelmed; struggling to keep up with life’s demands (work, home, family, community) and unable to clear space for themselves. It was astounding to me how common this theme was throughout my practice…and in my private life. This “in your face” lesson led me to commit to my own self-care at a greater level. It propels me to take the conversation (and ideally the support for your self-care) to broader audience as it is evident that we need tools and support to claim greater self-care.
Self-care is a work in progress for me. I am a single, widowed working parent of two boys. The list of things I need to “get done” is often as daunting as the never-ending laundry pile of dirty clothes. Honestly, there are days that there seems no end to the tasks that need to be completed at home, in life and for my business. I understand my client’s natural reaction to push self-care aside. It is often difficult to carve out space for my own needs, let alone care. As this conversation escalated in my practice, I knew to help others it would be important for me to be in integrity, and so I share with you that I reached out for my own guidance and coaching with professionals and loved ones who will help me be accountable for the changes I need to make in my behavior. I recognize, as I hope you do, that without help and support, it is too easy to continue to place ourselves last on our list and our self-care will not get prioritized.
For as long as I can remember, I have said to clients “you can’t give from a place that is empty”. I said this a lot when I operated my fitness studio. At the time, most of my clients were women. I saw up close how much women struggle to make time for themselves. Back then, it was easy to sell, if you will, the importance of self-care. The effects of not making time for exercise is evident. Weight gain and lack of physical health are the results of putting yourself last. Interestingly, even with the physical risk factors, client’s struggled making time for their fitness goals. Classes and training sessions would get missed, often time because someone else “needed them” and so their self-care slipped in face of another’s demands.
Today, the struggle of my client’s seems even greater. And the risks of not prioritizing the self is higher, too. People want success, they want to experience their potential, but can’t seem to slip out of the pattern of lack of self-care. Our habits run us, and here the result is inner conflict, stress, unhappiness, and more.
I see myself in each of my clients and I empathize with the struggle to get out of the patterns that don’t serve our well-being. We are constantly bombarded with the idea that we can “have it all”. All we need to do is to work at “work/life balance”. But, haven’t we lost sight of the fact that we’re the ones holding the variables that we’re balancing. We’re balancing life and work…but are we balancing ourselves in that? Our deepest needs, our creativity, our desires for rest and care?
It is this type of conditioning along with the idea that it is right and appropriate to please others before ourselves that set us up for patterns of behavior that drive us away from knowing what we need and how to make time for it. As such, we have lost ourselves in our care for others. We hold thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about how “selfish or bad” it might be to put ourselves first. We believe common thoughts that caring for others first makes you a better person/mother/friend/spouse. These influences keep us from realizing our true potential and success.
To truly be successful is to agree to be on a path of self-love and self-care. When we agree to create true and lasting success, we agree to work on the deepest and most profound parts of ourselves. When we work on creating meaningful success, we enter an agreement to listen to our deepest needs and desires. We can not do this without placing ourselves higher on our priority list.
How do we remedy this problem? The answer is that we must find ways to self-care at the core of our lives – including in our care for others. As nice as a spa-day is, it does not teach us how to navigate our lives with others and create new patterns of priority. It is wonderful to take a time-out from life to care for ourselves, but it doesn’t help us set better boundaries with others. Success happens when we repeatedly behave in the directions of our goals. Just as you can’t lose weight with one day of dieting, you can’t build the muscle of self-care with one day of pampering. We must adapt new sets of behaviors and apply them repeatedly in the direction of our self-care.
Easier said than done though, right?
Our patterns of behavior are habituated and stuck in our mind-body-energy systems. This is where the tool of EFT Tapping is so useful. Instead of forcing a whole new subset of behaviors we’re not yet aligned with, we instead look to identify what keeps us stuck in the pattern. We use EFT Tapping to remove the obstacles of our thinking-feeling-believing and behaving. The “obstacles” are stuck in our body by the physical stress they cause. Since EFT Tapping is scientifically proven to release stress from the physical body by reducing cortisol levels, we can release the obstacles by releasing the stress that is associated with it.
Let me provide an example: You want to have more time for yourself, but you don’t ask for it because it “makes you feel guilty”. This clearly impedes your ability to embrace self-care. In most models of coaching, the request would be to set better boundaries first and then cognitively re-frame the guilt. That is great, but if it worked everyone would have better self-care skills! The problem as I see it, experience it, and help others with it, is that the body is trapped in behaviors trying to avoid the stress that the guilt causes. As we Tap on the guilt, we both reduce the stress and the guilt from the system, thereby opening you up to new boundaries and behaviors. We must reduce the stress first, then augment the behavior second. This makes the behavior change much, much easier!
W behave from our bodies, not our minds. Our bodies follow the cue of relaxation or stress. Stress is “fight-or-flight-or-freeze”. In the above example, the guilt causes us to fight-flight-freeze every time we think about asking for time for ourselves. So, we avoid it, get angry about it, or stay stuck in the pattern of not asking for it. Others can’t resolve this for us. We must address the guilt as the obstacle and the stress associated with it. Only then can we have a clear mind and body that will help us to find natural and aligned solutions to our problems of self-care.
Doesn’t that make sense to you?
You can take your self-care to a new level. You can increase your chances of success and capacity for self-love and compassion. Other people cannot provide that for you. You must find that within. EFT Tapping has the capacity to open a whole new world of opportunity for you. You don’t need to suffer, stuck and unhappy in the pattern of last-on-the-list. Isn’t the time now to do something different?
I would love to hear from you and support you on your journey to better self-care.
Here’s to the journey of success through self-care. Let’s do this…together! xo
Gretchen Driscoll has dedicated the last 20 years to helping hundreds of individuals and corporate clients clarify goals and achieve success.
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