If you are following my blogs on Strategic Self-Care, then you already know I have an unconventional, Choice Theory approach to the topic, which will be revealed in my forthcoming book, Choosing Me Now, out on Amazon June 4. It will be available for preorder on May 4th. You can find my other self-care blogs here: Significance and Self-Care and Safety and Security and Self-Care.
For our third dive into Strategic Self-Care, I want to examine the relationship between Freedom and self-care. We all have a need for Freedom, regardless of how strong it is. I want you to consider whether these aspects of your personal self-care are being satisfied and how your inner sense of balance is being affected.
Do you have an environment to call your own? Any space at all, inside or outside, where you feel completely free to be yourself? Where you feel your best, nurtured and happy? If you live alone, this can be your entire home. If you live with others, you may have a room, a corner of a room, a garage, gazebo or garden—someplace that’s all yours. If you do, take a moment to celebrate that fact! You may be taking it for granted. When I was a young child, I remember my mother locking herself in the bathroom for about 30 minutes each day. I used to think she had to be dying in there, but when I became old enough to understand, I realized it was the only way my mother could feel free and just ‘be’ in our home. There was nowhere else for the poor woman to go. She later told me she used that time to peruse the Reader’s Digest. If you are without a space, or if your home feels alien to you, then this is probably crimping your Freedom and hindering your ability to self-care. See if there is something you can do to take one step toward creating that space for yourself. It could be somewhere outside your home, in nature. It could also be the spa, a place you shoot pool, or a shooting range. It just needs to be a space that nurtures you, where you feel your best and are happy.
Having the knowledge, skill and motivation to free yourself from self-created misery is another way Freedom is tied to self-care. I believe that most of our misery is self-created. Choice Theory teaches us that the only person’s behavior we can control is our own, yet we spend most of our day attempting to control everyone else. We know that if they would just get on board with our program, our day would be so much better. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work and is akin to pounding your head against a brick wall. As if that weren’t enough, the other way we create misery for ourselves is by denying the reality of our lives. When we endure painful things in our lives, we tend to rail against them, claiming the world isn’t fair. Laments of “how could this have happened to me,” “I don’t deserve this” and “I don’t accept this” abound. The truth is, it did happen to you. Why fight it? It’s a done deal. Instead, get busy deciding how you are going to respond to the events of your life. And, while you’re at it, you can start looking for the GLO—gifts, lessons and opportunities—in those painful events because they exist. If you can focus on those things, the pain won’t be able to hold you hostage. Those of you who are still pounding your head against that brick wall, hoping for other people to change and agonizing over the past, free yourself from that situation. Accept that people are perfectly free to engage in whatever behaviors they choose. You don’t have to like it—you may even hate it. However, the reality is that people are doing what they do because it works for them. Your job is to figure out your response. Accept others for who they are and then decide what you will do. It could require distancing yourself from someone, finding a new job to escape a work environment that isn’t working, or simply being honest and setting some boundaries. Whatever it is, aim to find a behavior that works for you and doesn’t add fuel to the fire. When you do something to make the situation worse, you haven’t accepted the other person’s right to do things their way—you are still attempting to get them to do it your way.
The third way I discuss Freedom in relation to self-care is being free enough to be yourself, which consists of two parts. First, you must know yourself well enough to understand who you really are. This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you think of how you discovered who you are, you may realize you are doing the things you do because it’s what other people told you to do. It could have been your parents, a teacher, guidance counselor, your spiritual leader, your lover or your friend. Everyone has an opinion of who you are supposed to be, how you are to dress, what work you should do, who you should date and what you should name your children. How do we peel all that away and discover our essence under all that noise? You first need to be able to filter the “other” stuff from what is “your” stuff. If you are having trouble, you may want to see a counselor or coach to help you work it out. Second, once you know who you are, are you free enough to express your essence in front of others? This can occur gradually. For example, you may start being yourself with your best friend, and then other friends, your family, people at work and, finally, the community at large. Make yourself known in any order that feels comfortable, or you may just decide to do “you” with everyone at the same time. Keeping up personas takes so much energy. Being a different person at home, at work and in public is a lot to keep track of. When you know who you are, you can take steps to always be your authentic self in every setting with every person you interact with. Can you imagine how freeing that would be and how it would contribute to your self-care?
Where do you think you want to start? I started with creating my own space. Whatever it is, choose something that will expand your freedom and contribute to a better relationship you have with yourself.