selfish vs “self care”

On the eve of the eclipse, a friend reached out via text with this question:

Because you are my person for deep moon thoughts….
Pondering the difference between selfish and self-care.

She didn’t expect a response that night. It was late and the word “ponder” when used between us implies that there is thoughtful & reflective being done on the subject, usually someone is subconsciously chewing on it with occasional thoughts that surface in the present till one is ready to commit to intentionally mentally processing. She must’ve had a life incident in which she was told she was being selfish when attempting to carve out time for herself. I’m not sure. I expect that she will reveal that another time, but for now it got me thinking. Pondering. 

I came up for air and responded a day or so after she asked. My response was shallow, but a version of what I think today. Which is: There is nothing selfish about genuine self-care.

But there’s more to “self-care” than just a face mask and a bubble bath, and the definition of self-care looks and feels differently to everyone. Let me explain my thoughts in a rambling way, but I promise I will answer the question…

I choose a word each year. One that defines how I feel the first week of the year. Where is my head? Where is my heart? What is my focus? 2022 delivered me to this: 

reciprocation noun
re·​cip·​ro·​ca·​tion | \ ri-ˌsi-prə-ˈkā-shən  \
Definition of reciprocation
1a : a mutual exchange
b : a return in kind or of like value

It should be said that 2021 left me feeling like my emotional and physical bank accounts weren’t just overdrawn, but had quite possibly been hijacked by identity theft and then sent off to collections! The challenges on a personal and professional level were quite intense and I began slashing relationships and situations that no longer served me or didn’t balance my accounts. I slashed without discrimination – old friends, new business relationships, etc. It was a bloodbath, but also my way of attempting to control the carnage that had become my life. 

As I entered 2022 with intention, I knew that the name of the recovery game was Reciprocation and I choose to only engage with people or circumstances when I suits me as well. That’s not to say that when a friend or neighbor is in need that I write them off because I’m not getting anything in the transaction. Quite the opposite. I’m subtly (but intentionally) assessing situations and if they are drowning me or the effort is so one-sided that it is exhausting me, I’ve given myself permission to step away. It stunned many, but much like applying your oxygen mask before you help someone with theirs, I recognized that no one deserved explanation as I assertively stepped away. These were my choices and if those who were slashed clawed their way back in, maybe I’d re-consider. (More on that maybe in another post…)

I reached an absolute low point in mid-March of this year. Some major physical ailments came to head and I felt assaulted on all sides by symptoms and one catastrophe after another! Suddenly with a series of seeming coincidences, I was surrounded and lifted up by a small but mighty assortment of amazing women in conventional and alternative healthcare professions! By following the bread crumb trail that miraculously appeared, I was able to find each one like a Connect the Dots game and I found them and their support and education resources. It was like a chain reaction! With their constant encouragement, I’m actively working towards Kibby 2.0. 

In just a few months, I’ve gained so much ground post-2021 and my March low point. I’m enthusiastically and purposefully defining my personal “self-care”, all the while encouraging others to pursue their versions. As with love languages, not everyone speaks my version of self-care language. Many of us women are encouraged to scrap caring for ourselves in order to facilitate a perfect family or to succeed in business. Our mental, emotional and physical health accounts become so overdrawn that the bank no longer wants to do business with us!

A close female friend called me on my BS recently when I was talking about my “life take back” saying that I should’ve been caring for myself all along, and how horrible is it that our culture demonstrates that it is SELFISH to care for ourselves. She was very right, but as I type that I am giggling because this same person told me in a separate conversation that her life was too hectic to make necessary dietary and activity changes right now to get herself on track. She said that she had to wait for her life to calm. Hypocritical? Yes, but it’s the way we are conditioned! Mothers, grandmothers, friends, co-workers and that damn glorifying of “I am so busy!” has broken many of us! 

(Don’t forget the men! They’re broken by society and cultural conditioning in their own ways, but that’s for another post.)

Self-care for Kibby currently looks like this:

  • Building each day around my personal needs – nutrition, physical exercise, and physical/mental rest.
  • Scheduling abundant exercise into each day.
  • Fitting my business and outside commitments around my personal needs.
  • Choosing to not participate in activities that are detrimental to or interrupt my goal progress – this includes online activities (ex. I’ve blocked many on social media)
  • Reflecting twice daily to identify what is working for me and what is not, and then making real time changes.
  • Working with my succulents and my yard/garden – taking moments to nurture and celebrate the natural beauty around me..
  • Not apologizing for nor excusing my needs to others, but rather explaining to them why they are important, if questioned.
  • Getting enough rest and sleep (they are different!)
  • Correcting myself gently when I notice negative self-talk and striving to have none.
  • Surrounding myself with joyful & positive influences.
  • Practicing grace with myself when I fall short – and this happens often – then striving to understand why I tripped.
  • Asking for help when I need it.

I hope this blog post answers my sweet friend’s question and further hoping that it inspires you to intentionally ponder your self-care needs and assess if you are meeting them?

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