“It’s like a mother, when the baby is crying, she picks up the baby and she holds the baby tenderly in her arms.
Your pain, your anxiety is your baby. You have to take care of it. You have to go back to yourself, recognize the suffering in you, and embrace the suffering, and you get a relief.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
I sat across from my therapist in the fall of 2006. In an attempt to help myself, I hired a therapist who was referred to me by an author who wrote a book about work addiction.
“I’m addicted to work. I can’t stop working.”
Little did I know or little did I want to know that my overworking habit was a mere symptom of a greater problem that desperately needed to be revealed and desperately needed healing.
But I had immediate problems I wanted to get better, and fast.
I wasn’t sleeping. I had chest pain every day. I had gained 15 pounds from stress eating Cheez-Its, Wheat Thins, and granola bars at night.
I was depleted and withdrawn from friends because ‘doing something’ wasn’t fun anymore.
I was alone in my self-perpetuating world of work, anxiety, over-extension, and holding on for dear life.
I knew something was wrong with me. I just didn’t know what.
I knew I was making my husband very unhappy, and that, along with my own misery, finally prompted me to seek outside help.
“You need to take care of yourself,” my therapist said.
“Ugh,” I thought to myself. “That sounds terrible.”
Why would I want to take care of myself when I’m already burnt out taking care of everything else?
It sounded terrible because I may actually have to DO something that was nurturing and supportive for my own sanity and well-being.
Ugh…If I start doing things to take care of myself that means something is wrong with me.
That means I have to admit that I have needs, and ugh, to feel like I have needs feels terrible.
I’ve been pushing through all my life. I’m fine.
Can’t you see how fine I am?!!!
But I knew I wasn’t fine. I knew I couldn’t continue to live this way.
I knew something had to give, so I gave ‘taking care of myself’ a shot.
Real self-care is an act of humility.
Not, ‘I’m less than’ humility.
It’s the humility of moderation, respectful courtesy, and submitting to your human frailty, tenderness, and needs.
Real self-care embraces that it is OK to have needs. It’s OK to be human. It’s OK to not be OK, and it’s OK to stop.
You don’t have to keep everything together, but you do have to humble yourself to admit your limitations, hurts, and truth.
Real self-care requires courage and compassion.
It’s the willingness to touch the most tender, wounded part of your heart and say, “It’s OK, sweet love, I’m gonna take good care of you now.”
Angela Savitri is a Freedom from Chronic Stress Coach and helps professional women be free of burnout and chronic stress. She healed her own chronic stress crisis while still working in a corporate environment and now helps high-achieving women lead unburdened and content lives, even with a demanding career. Receive your free audio training, ‘3 Secrets to Self-Care Without Feeling Guilty,’ atwww.freedomfromchronicstress.com.