Recently, two people told me that they’re finally going to start taking care of themselves this year. They had let themselves get run down and run over after decades of thinking that self-care was selfish. I applauded their efforts to begin prioritizing themselves.
However, when I asked them about the changes they were going to make, I heard about plans for exercising, taking time off, getting massages, and getting more sleep. Now, while taking care of our bodies is undeniably important, taking care of our inner worlds, our mindset, is equally so.
Self-care, at its core, is as much about tenderness, forgiveness, gratitude, and compassion as it is about action. Max Ehrmann wrote, “Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe.” Can you say that you are gentle with yourself, that you talk to yourself as a dear friend would? Do you cut yourself slack when you make a mistake? Can you recognize when you suffer and offer yourself a kind word?
I have a new book coming out this year called “Simple Self-Care for Therapists,” so self-care is very much on my mind. Of course, regardless of our work in the world, we all need to cultivate the soft center of self-love. So, by all means, pull out the stops on your healthcare. But don’t forget to tend to your inner world. It could make all the difference.