When We Learn How to Care {On Treating Ourselves Nicely}

by Andrea Kolber


Awhile ago, a wise supervisor asked an important question: Why isn’t it okay with you, to take care of yourself? He said it so gently, I almost missed it. 

He was wondering out loud, so I could ask this of a client I had been discussing with him. But, it stuck with me, too. Honestly, it sounded a little goofy. I mean, of course I’m okay with taking care of myself.

Right.

Right?!

Okay, maybe not always.

Like when I schedule my daughter’s doctor’s appointments but don’t do my own. Or, when I know that running helps my brain to click, but I let that slide because (well, because life). Or when connecting with the Lord allows me to feel like my most true self, but I make it a last priority.

Or, when I keep from speaking my needs because deep down a part of me still thinks they don't matter.

It made me realize that I had (and have) all these reasons why I don’t do what’s good for me. There are so many, aren't there? Time, money, energy, motivation, etc. But ultimately it came down to one main question. Why am I not okay with doing the things for myself that I actually need? If I could be intentional, the reality is I could pretty much always find a way to meet my needs. 

If I want to. 

**

It’s been several years since the question was posed to me, but it’s as relevant as ever. Because when I peel back all the layers, much of my desire to give myself what I need, begins and ends with me.

It's certainly not because my faith reflects I don't matter. It's not because important people in my life think it either. 

It's me, or rather the critic in me.  

How I treat myself, speaks volumes about how I view my worth. So, I can talk all day about my value, but if my actions don’t mirror it, I may not believe it. 

I wish this were as simple as identifying this in myself and quickly changing; just recognizing that I’m neglecting myself and then doing it differently.

Unfortunately, it’s not. Or at least, not usually. 

In fact, I’ve been working on it for 8 years, and I still have room for improvement. But, I’ll say this, when I cut through all the excuses, I realize and know there is holy work to be done in the space between what I know and how I act. This is the space where I can invite God to do the work that he is faithful to do, as we trust, as we wait, as we act in faith. 

And if I've learned anything as a recovering perfectionist, it's that small changes actually matter. Yesterday, I may not have done what I meant to do, but I've learned I still have today. I can set aside the time, I can take the breath, I can enjoy my life right now. I can allow myself to be learner, even in the ways I care for myself. 

**

How are you taking care of yourself these days? What allows you to be refreshed?