We hear it all the time. What are we doing to care for ourselves? How are we nourishing ourselves and treating ourselves well. Counter to the
never enough” productivity culture, the self-care movement is one focused on treating yourself well in this moment, regardless of whatever external milestones you’ve accomplished.
Meditation, yoga, massages, baths, nutritious food, and even retail therapy are all common self-care suggestions—ways to indulge yourself in feeling even better. But to anyone who’s feeling lack—or either time or money—the self-care pressure can reiterate shame. Just another thing we have to do. Or another thing we can’t quite afford.
So how do we self-care in a way that always feels good? We do it subjectively, of course.
I remember a few years ago, I was being interviewed for a podcast with a self-care expert. And she asked me what are some of my favorite self-care practices. And I stopped her for a moment and said, “You know, I’m always a little confused about what exactly self-care is. I don’t eat gluten because it makes me feel sick. Is that self-care? I sleep at least eight hours every night because I know I’m not pleasant when I don’t. Is that self-care? And I build my business really slowly, happily trading in fast-paced growth for freedom. Is that self-care? Because—to me—we’re really just talking about self-acceptance. We have to know ourselves first.”
Since then, I’ve been really interested in normalizing self-care—not as something separate I do once in a while. But in the most literal sense of caring for myself. In small things I probably already do a lot of. And in making all of my routines simply caring for myself.
I don’t know that I hit every box of objective self-care all that often. But subjectively, the deeper I know about myself, the better I feel. Because I build a life around who I am.
It’s why I’m such a stickler for subjectivity work. Because it underpins everything. With subjectivity work, everything can be a container for self-care. My business? Absolutely. My relationship? It better be. Even the way I organize my home. I mean, I can totally keep it messy—and, believe me, with all the travel we’re doing this summer, it gets that way. But I personally feel markedly better when it’s clean. As in it’s the difference between a really, really good day and a somewhat down one. So I prioritize that.
Because what I’m really doing is prioritizing myself.
If a clean house didn’t make me feel so good, I probably wouldn’t clean as often. To be honest, I don’t give a shit what other people think of my home—I care about what I feel like.
If my business didn’t aid in my own growth so much, I probably wouldn’t give my all to it. If I didn’t love my clients so much, I probably wouldn’t go over call times by a few minutes.
Some people might call that poor boundaries. But that’s self-care to me. Because there are some conversations that I’m getting so much out of it, I just don’t want them to abruptly end just yet.
Sometimes, self-care is saving money. And watching my savings grow. Sometimes it’s buying ridiculously expensive shoes. Sometimes it’s going out a lot. Sometimes it’s staying in.
And it’s all subjective.
The greatest advice I can ever give anyone is to know themselves. Because, through that, you can build a life that feels just like you. A life that nourishes you. That is simply an externalization of your subjectivity.
And it’s pretty freaking easy to be successful when your entire life is built for you. You’re kind of rigging the system and stacking the odds in your favor.
The people you hang out with, the home you surround yourself with, the work that you do, the routines that you keep—they’re all supporting you to be successful.
It’s a hell of a lot easier than arbitrarily practicing yoga every day and bathing and hoping it’ll transform your life. Maybe that’s the right stuff for you. Maybe it’s not. But only you know.
Your subjectivity is everything. It’s your soul blueprint, your perspective, your intuition, your purpose, your point of reference, your reality. It’s the way that only you experience the world. And, as such, it’s the way that only you can be aligned and successful. It’s the way that only you can be yourself.
Forget the conditioning. Forget the “objective” self-care. What makes you feel good? I mean really, really good? What do you need unconditionally?
No matter the dollars in your bank account, social networks you do (or don’t) have, or amount of free time in your day, what’s one thing—just one thing—that would make you feel more like yourself?
Maybe it’s dropping the shame or guilt. Maybe it’s taking a walk. Or calling an old friend. Or writing for yourself. Or meditating. Or watching some bad TV. Or speaking up to someone in your life.
I don’t know. But you do.
So what “self care” step are you doing to take today?