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Listen to me read this piece here:
For too many entrepreneurs (and this applies, as well, to those who aren’t running a business — this PSA is appropriate if you’re running any kind of circus), the idea of self-care is something that fills in around the edges. I’ve never baked a pie before, but I think of it as piling all of the strawberries into the crust, and then spilling in any kind of syrupy filling and cream where the strawberries happen to have made space. It’s not necessarily an afterthought, but it’s a thought that only occurs where the primary business hasn’t already shoved in.
Don’t let self-care be a syrupy pie filling.
I’ve been told several times over the last few months that I’m good at self-care. Hearing this always makes me laugh a little, because I’ve historically been awful at taking care of myself.
Here are some things that I’ve been good at in my adult life: working hard; being ambitious; working hard in order to go after said ambitions; creating goals; drinking too much in the process of attempting to calm down the ruckus in my head, some of which was greatly exacerbated by the frantic pursuit of my goals. Did I mention that I’m good at working hard?
I had to become excellent at self-care because I was forced to. I’d been living with chronic illness since I was a preteen, but this past year, I started again; I became sick in new ways, with new diagnoses, and with that epoch of beginning again, came the fine point that if I didn’t become exquisite at caring for myself, I would probably die.
I don’t believe that I’m being punished for my previous workaholism. I am not atoning for sins. My life is what it is, and that’s okay.
But I do want to tell you — you of the fledgling business, you who have been working at the self-employment thing for a year or so, you of the empire that lords upon all empires — that if you feel as though you might need a dose of self-care in your life, you’re probably onto something. Should you be so fortunate as to consider yourself healthy, I’m telling you now that self-care isn’t something that you do when the proverbial brakes are shot. You do it because you’re worth caring for. You do it because you are a living being who needs to be fed. You are busy, but you’re not a machine.
If you find yourself asking, But where do I begin?, my answer is at once simple and, if you’re anything like I was and still am, bewilderingly difficult: Be quiet. Listen.
Being quiet has always been hard for me. I don’t like silence, but I make it a practice to be in silence now, when I can, so that I can listen.
What you’re listening to depends on your beliefs. You could be listening to God, Spirit, or a personal angel. You might be listening to your own marvelous self that’s been buried beneath the lists and Future Plans.
Past the ruckus and the nattering self-talk is a voice that whispers or speaks with strength. It says, A cup of tea. Hold off on that 3pm Scotch. Shut down that project. Send that tough-but-necessary email. Just because you hear it doesn’t mean you have to do anything; for now, hearing it is fine.
Eventually, the voice will let you know what business choices to make. Whether or not that joint venture is a good idea. It’s making room for that inner voice, and not three-hour massages and green juicing every morning*, that’s the front-line work of self-care.
*Although — feel free to do those things. I won’t tell you not to get a three-hour massage.