Challenging the Traditional Narrative: A Different View of Self-Care

Birds eye image of a cup of coffee on a wooden board, next to some foliage, with green macarons, and a note saying 'enjoy the little things'. Today’s article is written by Change Coach Lindsey Elliott


There is a lot of emphasis on self-care today, especially for women. And this a good thing on so many levels. However like most concepts in modern life, even this can feel over complicated, or like a pressure. It can become an extra thing to do or achieve, or yet another thing we are failing at.


The demands on all of us with work, maintaining a home, looking after kids or relatives, seeing our friends and keeping up with emails, social media and the various ‘notifications’ of our smart phone, can lead to feelings like overwhelm, stress, anxiety and burn out. Turning the priority around from doing more, buying more or achieving more, towards our inner health, is a wonderful (and needed thing). However I feel there is a deeper place to look within the subject of self-care. A place where we can get more out of any self-care we may choose to do.


Thinking, thinking all day long…


I feel we can all agree that most of us live our lives largely in our heads. Listening to our thinking all day long…we may have some times of respite when our mind naturally quietens down, or it may happen when we meditate, watch TV or are in the bath. But these moments seem to be few and far between for the majority of us. What I have noticed in my experience, is that when I am spending too much time listening to my own thoughts, and am taking them seriously, I also notice that my ‘need’ for time away or a quiet space also increases. Now, there is wisdom in this. The feelings of overwhelm or stress are telling me something. But they are not telling me about my need to de-stress my life or do more self-care. They are ONLY ever telling me where the state of my mind is at, where the majority of my attention is focused.


I particularly notice that when my mind is engaged in anxious thinking, my feelings of wanting time out increase. It may look like the anxious thinking has some information in it, but rarely does it. I am usually just caught up, innocently, in scaring myself with my own thinking. It seems to me, that the solution to this isn’t to take time out or engage in self-care but to see that I am experiencing some anxious, or busy-minded thinking. And that this thinking isn’t the truth, but it is creating my feelings. The space that this provides naturally settles my thinking and from that quieter, less revved up mind, I start to feel better quite naturally. Once my mind is settled, the need for self-care drops away. You can substitute your own feeling here rather than anxiety – it might be anger, stress, disappointment, fear or feeling busy that prompts a need for self-care within you.


The key I have seen is that when my mind is quiet, there really are no problems. And underneath the busy mind that grabs our attention is a wellspring of love, contentment, happiness, resilience and compassion that just naturally exists, by the very fact of our being human beings. BUT for believing our thinking, there is peace, life is good and we can keep it simple.


With simplicity comes freedom. When we have less on our minds this positively impacts our bodies and in our energy levels. When life is feeling complex or complicated there is only ever one place to look – within – to the thought-created reality we are living in.


So what’s the Number 1 self-care tip I have?

Stop taking all your thinking so seriously!


It really is that simple. Caring for ourselves can be as simple as recognising we are living in our thinking, not the reality of life. As we see through the illusions our thinking creates for us, quite naturally we return to the peace, calm and wholeness that is truly who we are. Underneath all the busyness lies our essential nature that doesn’t ever need self-care because it is complete already.


Our built-in self care system


It is really good to know that we have our own inbuilt self-care system. It certainly feels to me that there is benevolence built into the human design, in that we always come back to balance. The more we can allow this to simply flow, the easier life becomes:


1. Our psychological system is designed to reset itself. There isn’t anything that we have to do for this to happen, it will settle all by itself.


2. We are all connected to a force greater than ourselves, greater than our own psychology, which takes care of us. It speaks to us as our wisdom, insight, intuition or knowing. This system is in operation ALL of the time. The only thing that fluctuates is our ability to hear it.


3. All experience flows and changes all the time. Every single event, circumstance, feeling, thought, sensation and mood has changed all by itself. There is nothing we need to do to move life on.


As a last point, I want to mention that I am NOT saying that self-care is a bad thing. Or that engaging in slower, nourishing activities like reading a book, a bath, a walk in nature, yoga or meditation are not useful. They are! We all need time off to rest, recharge and take a mental and physical break from life. This is totally natural and OK – we don’t have to be super human and carry on regardless.


But I have found that there are times I may do some yoga and I feel settled and great, and other times I still feel a little strung out. That’s because it’s the quality of my state of my mind that determines how I feel, not the activity I happen to be doing. And this is true for all of us; this is how humans are designed. Your wisdom may gently nudge you towards some self-care time, and we are wise when we listen to that. It seems like a good idea to me to look after our physical bodies and to do things that we enjoy. I have found that when I come from a place of doing something like yoga or meditation because it brings me joy, not because I expect it to change how I feel, the impact is far greater.


There is great relief knowing that we are living in the feeling of our thinking, not the feeling of our life. The lightness of this inner knowledge takes so much off our minds that self-care becomes a place that we live in, rather than somewhere we go to from time to time.


You can learn more about Lindsey here:


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