2014: The Year of Self-Care

I’m not very good at being good to myself, and I want to change that. I’d like to think I’m a good friend, a good partner, and a good mother (most of the time), but to myself, I’m not very kind. (See? It’s so deeply ingrained to self-depricate that I couldn’t handle not putting “most of the time” after good mother.) There’s all these left-brain hip checks going on and double takes and “Ohhh maybe I shouldn’t”s going on in my mind that in reality aren’t healthy. They aren’t a good model of having a good relationship with yourself. I want to nip this in the bud before my kids pick it up, because it’s really hard and it’s something I’ve been sucking at quite well during my almost-29 years (see? check me out being nice to myself already! I sucked really well!). I need to get this inner monologue in check. For them but mostly for me. Self-loathing isn’t cool, it isn’t “a writer’s thing”, it’s just something that people to do themselves that is pretty unacceptable, that oddly, society accepts. Sometimes even demands.

After the Year of Luigi passed us by, I jokingly called 2014 The Year of Self Care on twitter, and had quite a few people saying they were thinking the same thing and were going to be kinder to themselves this year, or be more sparing with their emotional energies, or not let things get to them as much. So I thought I’d share my journey and encourage others to do the same, maybe we can be very cheap therapy for each other. I have a surgery coming up this year, I’m done having babies (despite them being the two prettiest children in existence ever forever), and I’m kind of ready to focus on getting all this *points all over body* sorted out.

My dearest friend KP — a true soul sister to me — has been calling me on my bullshit from the day we met, and I adore her (even more) for it. The phrase “Hey, don’t talk shit about my friend” became a staple, and I found myself saying it to other friends when I saw them being unkind to themselves (usually followed by “or I’ll snap ya”, when I said it, as humour breaks through awkwardness and awkwardness is like the worst thing that can ever happen to anyone, right? *sarcasm font*). Eventually this evolved to A Sit Down And A Chat whereby KP would tell me “You would never say those things about other people, so why say them about yourself?”. That’s a sentence that when uttered by a loved one — someone you know really loves you — really gets under your skin.

I would never say someone was stupid for not having a degree, I would never even DREAM of it. Yet I was saying it to myself constantly, I was beating myself up and feeling really inferior to a lot of VERY clever very academic friends. I would sit down to write and beat myself up, constantly. Lots of this, from this. Imposter syndrome can manifest into crippling doubt and self-hatred very easily. Being an emerging writer I still have no idea how anything works or even how I work, so everything feels really haphazard and like I’m pasting bits of things together all the time, which easily lends itself to being confident you have it all wrong. Each week I’m slowly realising that even people who have seen great successes and are tremendously happy sometimes feel this way. It’s all how you deal with your shit.

novaturient

During my efforts to Actively Try And Be A Better Human, I’ve recently started giving more fucks and trying to be more socially aware. The more I explored intersectionality, privilege, class, power systems, and feminism — the more attuned to other people’s struggles I became — being mean to myself started to make less and less sense. How could I treat others with respect and think so poorly of myself? Keeping tabs on my privileges and being aware of other people’s lived experiences and how they intersect — and differ — with my own made me realise that self-loathing isn’t just hurting me, it’s hurting other people too. Not just the people that love me, but when I let my loathing go unchecked I can unconsciously trigger others. If I want to be a better person that involves treading lightly where needed, and one of those places I need to work on going gently is in regards to myself. Hating myself and then trying to make interesting stuff that I love just doesn’t feel sustainable to me.

SO, I’ve put this together. Here I’ll explore many things that aren’t good for me, how I avoid them, how I frame them mentally in a way that is useful for my own self-care and preservation, and work on where I direct my energies. My notes flew out of my fingers when I was thinking of things to nut out in this pretty vulnerable public place. Including not baulking or second guessing whether you’re worth something (I cringed at the title of this very blog, and that’s when I knew it was perfect. It’s meant to be an homage to Something For Kate (very special to me), but I was instantly worried how self-centered or egoist it looked to call it Something For Leena. Then I snapped out of it and realised it’s a fucking blog about my brain maybe it’s allowed to have some me in it.), and things like Making The Grown Up Choice, what to do about toxicity in your life (both online and off), letting things go, and being cool with being honest and vulnerable with people.

I’m scared and nervous, letting people into this process, but I don’t think people talk about their own personal coping mechanisms enough. Working through my stuff is something I want to get better at, and who knows, maybe people will help me with that along the way if I let them in. So feel free to comment and share how you cope with things, how you stop yourself when your inner monologue is a total dickhead, or even about your CBT or meditation techniques. My first blog post (this one doesn’t count) will be about making mature choices versus childish ones, because right now the washing needs to be put out and I’m procrastinating which (spoilers!) IS NOT the mature decision and only ends up making life shittier later. I’ll try my best to use tags efficiently so you can avoid any possible triggers, especially regarding body modification and body image, but I’ll also put the appropriate warnings at the start of each post if I think there’s going to be content that may not be good for some people. It’s probably going to get quite hairy sometimes in terms of talking about difficult things, as this is me working through my shit, but I promise to make it easy to avoid the things you don’t want to read. Oh, um, but there will be swears. Sorry.

In short, I’m skrrd but maybe this will be good for both of us?

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14 thoughts on “2014: The Year of Self-Care

  1. What a wonderful post Leena – I’m really looking forward to reading more about your journey! I find myself in such a similar psychological position, and I think it’s high time to challenge and change self-deprecating patterns of thinking. Might blog more about this myself too 🙂 But like Brene Brown says, vulnerability can be a wonderful thing x

  2. Thank you 😀 I think vulnerability really is a self-care thing in many ways. Being aware of it and how to manage it in the right amounts. Letting yourself be vulnerable with people and shedding artifice opens you up to amazing personal connections, but doing so without care can leave you taken advantage of. So it takes a while to hone that skill. I think I’m good at avoiding being taken advantage of nowadays, but could use more work on the honesty and frankness part. I don’t mean I’m a liar, but I don’t tell people when I’m upset sometimes and really no good can come of that.

    I think vulnerability and self care are really intrinsically linked. Mindfulness is vulnerability because it’s holding yourself accountable, which is pretty frightening sometimes.

  3. A couple of the things I admire about you, Cookie, is your honesty, and that when you set a goal it seems you do your darnedest to follow through.

    I remember when we came for a visit, ages ago, you mentioned that you were going to get into writing (as a job!) and how excited (if not a little wary) you were about it all. Now look at you, you professional writer you!

    And much like your journey into the world of writing I’m sure you will succeed at this goal too.

  4. Well done on getting started! When it comes to personal development stuff like this working out what it is you want to do and making it public is often challenging so that’s one big hurdle passed 🙂

    Totally relate to the whole being mean to yourself thing- I do that too. Unfortunately having a degree doesn’t fix it (well at least it hasn’t for me). I got an Honors degree from a respected university and I still often feel inferior to people I know who are doing PHDs or who came out of university with more impressive seeming skills.

    Something you might find helpful on this journey is Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project. I really like that book because unlike some other books on being good to yourself that are about big, impractical changes (like running away to a foreign country), its about making practical changes in your everyday life that improve your own happiness without jeopardizing your relationships or responsibilities.

  5. Kudos for writing about this! Writing about my attempts at personal improvement (currently wrt depression) has been a great help personally and does let others know how you’re doing without having to answer the same question from 50 different people.

    Also, I really enjoy your writing style 🙂

  6. I love this and think that it is an important thing for everyone to think about. My catch cry to my friends is how we need to start being kinder to ourselves and others. People find it easier to be kinder and accept fault in loved ones rather than themselves. I’m looking forward to this year of self care!!

  7. Thank you all so much for all the kind words and encouragement 😀 It means a lot! I’m really glad to see mindfulness is something are trying to focus on in 2014. This is really exciting!

  8. Your blog seems like it will be really good. You are a great writer and pretty honest. I hope this blog helps you! I Look forward to reading more! Good luck!

  9. Hey gorgeous, I don’t know how I missed this but I did and I am the poorer for it. I am ALL for this project, and I’m so looking forward to hearing what you have to say as you progress! You are spectacular and I spend so much time thinking how much I want to be more like you! It thrills me that you are taking this step to love and value and appreciate and forgive yourself more xoxoxo

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