So when people are talking about self-care, it’s important to take in what they actually mean by that.  Not in what they are doing or how they are doing it. That’s as varied as the individual involved.  One size does not fit all, there’s no miracle activity that will make everyone universally happy, and “being good to yourself” is a fairly broad generalization that remains an empty platitude if not clarified with some added specifics. No, what’s important is the amount.  You know, like not enough salt in a soup can leave it bland while too much will make it inedible.  How much self-care we add into our lives makes a huge difference in our experience of our life, of others, and of ourselves.

What I look for is whether the person is talking about self-care as a meal in and of itself or as a condiment. Self-care as a condiment is something we do once in a while that makes us happy.  It’s an addition to our lives, something that can be added or subtracted depending on circumstance. If we don’t have it we might notice, but it’s not going to make a huge difference. People talk about their self-care like this all the time. As if it’s just one more thing on a list of things to get done in the day or week. You can hear it in how they are talking about the week because other things are the real priority, but it being the 21st century and all, it’s important to keep up with the selfcare-is-not-selfishJoneses and self-care is the newest thing to be “doing.” Wedging in a little self-care takes care of that check box so we can hopefully stay healthy while we’re cranking out all the other things in life that are really important.

People who see self-care as a meal don’t actually talk in terms of “self-care.” They talk about their life. They prioritize themselves, not more than everything else, but as important as everything else.  If their life were a pie chart then self-care or the actual living of living their life takes up 1/3. The other 2/3 are work/career and family (These are over generalized averages that also include community/friends/peers/coworkers etc, but you get the idea.) They treat themselves the way they want to be treated thereby showing people how to treat them and treating others with the same nurturing, honoring, respect and value. They don’t say yes to everything, they don’t try to buy connection through productivity, they don’t try to take on other people’s needs or problems, and are therefore some of the absolute best friends to have. They don’t have hidden agendas, they just have their fully functioning, amazing, authentic selves which they offer freely while at the same time communicating and holding healthy boundaries. Their happiness is not dependent on others, therefore fully open to deep interconnection. They live the deep joy, contentment, and happiness they want to have in this life by making it a priority. Therefore they have plenty of it to share with all of their loved ones.

So which self-care are you practicing?