Taking on the World Starts with Taking Care of Yourself
Personal Power is a wonderful thing to have. It enables you to be yourself and get things done, to make a difference and make positive changes in your life and maybe even in the world. But what happens when we don’t look after ourselves? What happens when we compromise our welfare for the sake of a massive, inspiring goal? What happens when we lose balance?
When we lose balance we end up losing more than just our health and sense of well being, we lose our ability to do what is really important to us. When we want to do something glorious and wonderful for ourselves and others we can often end up exhausted and depressed, defeated and withdrawn. The most inspired people have big goals and often have the biggest pressure and the biggest burnout. Adrenal fatigue and exhaustion is common among really inspired people who want to make the world a better place. If you’ve ever felt like you want to give and give and give and you end with nothing left to give, then you probably need better self care strategies.
If you want to make the world a better place, you must start with making your own environment a better place and the most important environment is inside you. The way you feel, the way you think and the way you treat yourself plants a seed that can grow into everything you wish to achieve in the outside world. Looking after yourself is the starting point for looking after the world. The more you want to do for others, the more you should take care of yourself, the more stress relief and self love you will need.
Simply looking after yourself won’t do it all though, you will need to get out there and take some action, take some risks and strive for something beyond yourself, but you can only do this for so long. You also need to come back to yourself, look after yourself and be kind to yourself. It’s important to Strive for something and it’s important to Revive from the striving. When the striving is exaggerated and the reviving is almost eliminated, you will end up stressed out, worn out and maybe even depressed. It’s crucial to match your skills and resources with the size of your vision, anything great will not be accomplished without great support, great recovery and great resources. There is a great resource for you at the bottom of this blog.
If You Want to Do Something Great, Be Great to Yourself
Personal Power is created in a variety of ways, yet the most neglected way of doing it is also the most underestimated way. You can create more Personal Power by looking after yourself. Striving for something and really going for it is admirable but we so often neglect to consolidate what we’ve learned. We also neglect ourselves and put taking care of ourselves last, perhaps because we are hooked on the rush achievement. In our lives if we move continually forward, always pushing and never consolidating, it can be like constantly working out. If we don’t rest after exercise, our muscles don’t get a chance to recover their energy, to grow stronger and to heal from any soreness or injuries, whether small or large. Recovery is just as important to physical fitness as is the exercise we do.
When we Strive for something we must match it with time to Revive. It does not have to be some perfect match or a one to one ratio. When you exert yourself, give yourself some time to recuperate and replenish and then when you get back to striving for what you want, what you want to offer others or the world, you will have more energy and focus.
If you think this is a point that does not need to be made, simply look at the depression epidemic. Taking it to the extreme, when we don’t look after ourselves and chronically beat ourselves up going after something without rest, we get burned out, demoralized and eventually depressed. Depression is a complex issue of course and to over-simplify it is an affront to people who are suffering. Yet so often depression is the way our bodies and minds tells us we need to give ourselves a break. It tells us that we need to focus on something important to us because it is important to us. Depression is telling us not to try and force something to be important that simply isn’t important. We need to focus on what we really do care about rather than what we are supposed to care about. Depression is commonly a big clue that we are not focusing on what we really care about and a big clue that we are not giving ourselves what we really need.
What Happens if We Don't Revive?
If we fail to Revive after we Strive we end up sick, burnt out, exhausted and maybe even depressed. The Revive part that is so often left out, is the part where we normally care for ourselves, where we eat nourishing food and rest and do things that enrich us in ways we can’t usually explain.
So many of us try to be everything to everyone all of the time and burn ourselves out without ever feeling any sense of deep fulfillment. Our society has sold us on the idea that if we struggle and suffer now, we will be rewarded later. This is a sound way of doing things in many respects, you need to put some effort in before you get the rewards. You need to plant the tree before you can get the fruit. You need to make the meal before you eat the food. You need to take a risk romantically before you have intimacy. This is how things work, it’s the way of the world. Yet we take this way too far. We rarely give ourselves the rewards.
Not looking after yourself can even be deadly. If we look at drowsy driving, it is the second biggest killer in preventable auto-accidents after drink driving. If you’ve ever driven when you’re drowsy and just pushed it that bit further rather than pulling over and having a micro-nap, you have taken a risk you didn’t need to take. It also suggests that you might push yourself too hard in other areas when you simply don’t need to. Short breaks are not failures, they’re good strategy.
The Top 3 Ways We Fail to Look After Ourselves and Drain Our Personal Power
Instead of simply looking after ourselves the way we might look after a prized possession such as a house, a car or even just a cell phone, we tend to punish ourselves. We treat ourselves badly. It’s almost as though we are punishing ourselves for not accomplishing the thing we set out to accomplish because we have not immediately achieved it. The most common ways we do this fall into three categories:
1. Constant Delayed Gratification:
This means rather than reward ourselves as we go, replenishing ourselves as we need to in order to keep going, we constantly put off the rewards. We delay gratifying ourselves. It is important to be disciplined, it’s important to maintain focus, it’s important to be able to keep your eye on the goal. However none of these things are so important that we should effectively tease and maybe even torture ourselves by delaying all payoffs.
Have you ever noticed how much enthusiasm you have at the beginning of a project you love? Then after some time the energy and excitement gets smaller and smaller? This shrinking of enthusiasm is because our childlike enthusiasm is not being rewarded.
Every time we delay the payoff, especially when we delay even a partial payoff, we decrease our natural enthusiasm for a project.
There may be many reasons why we do this. There seems to be a lot of guilt tripping people in our society that pressure us into doing things simply because we are supposed to, rather than leaving us to explore what we would really love to do. It’s almost as though there is this undercurrent that says we are supposed to work hard and suffer and the harder we work, the more we suffer the bigger our reward will be when we achieve the ultimate aim. There is some truth in this but if it causes us to fail to look after ourselves, it helps no one. It is an idea that is taken too far and exhaustion and depression can be the result. Believing you are rewarded for suffering, severely limits how much energy you will put into things because we can only take so much suffering.
Some delayed gratification is simply good self-discipline but any good thing taken to an extreme is unhealthy. Constantly delaying gratification without any rewards along the way is a form of self abuse.
2. All or Nothing Attitude
Closely related to Constant Delayed Gratification is the All or Nothing Attitude.
It sounds like this:
- “if I can’t have it exactly how I want it, I won’t have it at all,”
- “unless I get the goal perfect before I even start, there is no point in trying,”
- “I should know all the things I am trying to discover before I discover them.”
Does this sound insane? In working with clients for decades, I have heard thousands of variations on these three themes. People actually think like this and if I am honest, I think we all think like this in some ways at least some of the time. None of us are completely secure all the time, especially when trying to do something that is really important to us which involves lots of new experiences and challenges. When we are uncertain and insecure about things we often try to control the situation by getting all black and white about it and adopting an All or Nothing Attitude. A new project or relationship, or striving for something we don’t yet know how to get or how to achieve is very confronting.
Rest assured, we’re all a little crazy sometimes and the All or Nothing Attitude tends to pop it’s head up with it’s illogical conclusions when we are under pressure and heavily invested in something.
Unfortunately, the fact that this attitude is a common one does not make it any easier to get out of it. We can easily get stuck in the All or Nothing Attitude. It is very unforgiving and somewhat relentless. When it’s All or Nothing you have a hard task master in your own mind who will not give you the slightest break! Since you cannot satisfy it, you are screwed. Sounds bleak huh? There is a simple solution and it’s really easy, not hard, though it might be hard to believe it can be so easy. The title of this blog suggests the solution and the “Three Ways Self Care Leads to Personal Power” section explains it.
3. Poor Personal Boundaries:
People that want to strive to make the world a better place are typically generous and kind people, people who are inspired and can see beyond themselves. These are admirable qualities… but… and it’s a big but… seeing beyond merely yourself does not have to mean completely forgetting about and neglecting yourself.
This neglecting of ourselves is all too common, those with big ideals and a big generous and caring heart are the most likely to fail to look after themselves. They have poor personal boundaries. If their friend’s cat is sick, they might drop everything to help their friend without checking if in the cat is actually on death’s door or if it is merely coughing up a fur-ball.
Kind hearted and generous people in this situation might neglect their important work, their relationship, themselves in favor of someone who needs help, all without checking and gauging the importance of the help versus the importance of what they were focusing on. If you are, for instance, working to solve world hunger, then you also need to have good boundaries and clear priorities. The clear priorities help you determine what is important and what warrants your attention and your good boundaries help you have a healthy sense of self that empowers you to say no to what does not really matter, giving you more energy for saying yes to what really counts.
It’s a regrettable thing in life that the people who have the most to give are so often taken advantage of and not respected or appreciated, not even by themselves. This drains their personal power and often leads to a downward spiral that can result in, once again, exhaustion and even depression.
The solution to these three ways we drain our personal power is simple and effective. It does not even require that much from us. In fact it requires very little, but it does require a large shift in the way we think.
3 Ways Self Care Leads to Personal Power
Self Care leads to Personal Power because, by it’s very nature it functions like an antidote to the most common ways that we drain our personal power. It does more than just Revive us, it can short circuit self-destructive habits and ways of thinking that lead to self-destructive habits.
If we take care ourselves it does more than just help us recover it is also a way of saying that:
- we deserve some recognition
- we have earned a break and some recovery
- we are human and not some sort of machine
- we deserve our own space
- we have our own boundaries
- you are making a statement that you are important and worthwhile
- you create a feeling of self worth
- you increase the chances of being able to recognize when you deserve and need some sort of gratification, some reward
- you recognize that you are important and deserve to be respected
This all means that you are more likely to be able to continue with what you are striving for. You will have a stronger sense of self and thus a better idea of when you need rest and when you need to Revive. This means you will have more staying power.
Self care habits lay the ground work to make you more likely to give yourself rewards and resources that help you revive and keep going so that you can thrive. When you have good self care habits you will have better access to self care ideas that you can easily come up with that personally suit you. If this is a hard step for you, start with small things, recognize how you can reward yourself in small ways as you go.
When you habitually care for yourself, you will be far less likely to keep going without reward or recovery. In this way you avoid burn out, exhaustion and even decrease the chances of sinking into depression.
2. The Antidote to the All or Nothing Attitude
When we look after ourselves we are more likely to recognize when we are taking on a lot. Self Care habits are a continual statement that we are human and that we have human needs. When we are habitually aware of our limitations and needs, we are ironically more able to overcome those limitations. This seems to be the case when we are more aware of our needs. Being aware of our needs lets us more faithfully fulfill them in one way or another. This means we are less likely to become deeply distressed
Good Self Care habits do something more than just remind us that we are human, they help us stay in a more relaxed state of mind. If we are looking after ourselves we literally have more reserves that enable us to adapt. When we are well nourished, rested and have energy reserves to help us adapt we are far more likely to be able to handle stress in constructive ways.
Having reserves stored up increases our adaptability and our ability to be creative. This is the opposite of the All or Nothing Attitude. The All or Nothing Attitude is very black and white. When we are able to be creative, even under challenging situations, we can see thousands of possibilities that the, two option only, All or Nothing Attitude prevents us from seeing.
Generating more possibilities in our projects and with our inspired goals creates more success than the harsh demands of the All or Nothing Attitude. Creative and innovative possibilities are far more likely to be visible to us when we have looked after ourselves.
The All or Nothing Attitude is a hallmark of most depression. Depressed people are almost always truly harsh on themselves. To someone who has never experienced depression it may seem like depressed people are taking it easy and actually doing very little. However the inner critic of depressed people is very busy, it never stops. A depressed person might be lying in bed all day but is still very active in with self condemnation, and still building very high expectations of what they should be doing. The All or Nothing Attitude is ever present saying on one hand that the depressed person should be ‘All Things to Everyone’ while at the same time telling the person they are in fact ‘Nothing to Anyone.’
As a preventative measure, self care decreases the chance of you getting stressed out and going to the All or Nothing Attitude which can lead to exhaustion and even depression. Self care in advance of needing it is a wonderful stress management and stress prevention method.
When we are stuck in the All or Nothing Attitude and cannot advance because we are stressed and unable to be creative and cannot create a way forward it can be a good idea to actually embrace the Nothing side of the attitude. This means we take a break, we say, “if it’s All or Nothing, then let it be nothing.” This releases the pressure and gives us a chance to relax, which is in itself a form of Self Care. Sometimes simply doing something else gives us access to an answer that we cannot otherwise see. Choosing to give up temporarily, choosing to do nothing in relation to our project or challenge can do wonders! Self care can give us a fresh perspective, the perfect antidote to the All or Nothing Attitude.
3. The Antidote to Poor Personal Boundaries
There is nothing like Self Care to make a statement that you are important and that you matter. Looking after yourself is a statement that you have personal boundaries. If your personal boundaries are poor and you are depleted because you give too much to others then Self Care helps you out in four ways:
- Self Care helps you recover energy lost through having poor personal boundaries.
- Self Care creates personal boundaries simply as a result of choosing to look after yourself.
- Self Care helps you clarify your priorities because it asserts that you are important.
- Self Care and taking time to yourself gives you perspective and helps you get your priorities in order according to what really matters to you.
It’s a win-win. What’s more, Self Care will give you the energy to go and do more of what you really care about. As far as assisting you with personal boundaries, Self Care is almost like a magic cure that helps with a lot of things all at once.
Summary - Why Self Care Leads to Personal Power and Combats Depression
Undertaking Self Care is a statement that:
- You are important
- You deserve small rewards along our journey to keep us interested and replenished
- You deserve reminders that you are worthy
- You deserve respect from others
- You deserve respect from yourself
This is an antidote to Constant Delayed Gratification and keeps us going by increasing our reserves. We become more powerful as a person when we reward ourselves on our journey because we consciously engage our natural enthusiasm and connect with our inspiration more frequently as we go. This gives us staying power which is imperative to any great undertaking.
Self Care combats exhaustion and depression by giving us what we need during our undertakings. If we have what we need to continue, we honor ourselves as we step forward and we are far less likely to burn out. Milestones that are celebrated and rests that we take affirm that we are human and we stop comparing ourselves to some impossible ideal that Constant Delayed Gratification can often make a slave to. When we are enslaved to an ideal and we compare ourselves to it, we generally see ourselves as inadequate no matter what we do. How depressing! It is so much easier to care for ourselves upfront because we are humans, rather than trying to meet some impossible standard in order to earn the right to some support and reward.
Undertaking Self Care is a statement that:
- It does not have to be all or nothing
- You deserve rest and recuperation
- You need to refresh your perspective from time to time
- You know that relaxation refreshes your ability to be more creative
- You respect yourself when you don’t expect the impossible
This is an antidote to the All or Nothing Attitude because caring for ourselves creates more options than just All or Nothing, in fact it can creates thousands of options if we take the time to create them. Self Care reduces stress, stress which can make us want to reduce everything to just a few (or two) options so that we feel we have more control. The sad part is that when we are reactive and try too hard to control the situation, we limit our creative thinking. It’s creative thinking, any the many options it provides that can give us real control. The All or Nothing Attitude is a tough one to get out of because it limits creativity, which seems to prove that there are very few options. It can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. We can create more control and Personal Power when we can create more options and we are more capable of creating options when we have looked after ourselves.
Self Care combats exhaustion and depression by helping us gain perspective that can take us off the All or Nothing treadmill. This treadmill takes us from one exhausting extreme to the other. Being refreshed saves us from being stuck between terrible options simply because we are too stressed and exhausted to see alternatives. This can ward off or even resolve depression because rather than being limited to a very few horrible choices. we can instead see constructive and inspiring alternatives.
Undertaking Self Care is a statement that:
- You deserve to have personal boundaries
- You deserve time to yourself
- You deserve time to recuperate
- You need time and space to clarify what is important to you
- You are a priority!
This is an antidote to the Poor Personal Boundaries because caring for ourselves is a clear statement that we are important. It’s really very simple. Self Care helps you recover from the effects of losing energy because of poor personal boundaries and it creates boundaries by simply caring for yourself.
Self Care combats exhaustion and depression by helping us learn when to say no when something is not in our best interests. It prevents depression because we have fostered enough self-esteem to stand up for ourselves with it is important to do so. We are protected from all sorts of abuses when we care for ourselves. Self Care is the opposite of self criticism, the constant companion of many depressed people. Undertaking self care is a powerful statement that we are more than our exhaustion and more than our poor thoughts about ourselves.
How to Improve Your Self Care
Getting started with Self Care is best when it’s easy.
To get you going we want to gift you the first module of our Self Care programme.
Grabbing the first module of this programme is a gift you can give to yourself, thus avoiding delayed gratification.
Grabbing the first module is merely trying out something we are offering to see if it’s right for you, it’s not an all or nothing thing.
Grabbing the first module is a statement that you are important enough for self care.
If you are not already on our mailing list this is a chance to get more from us about how to Empower Yourself and become more of who you really want to be. We will protect your details like you’re one of the family.