You’ve tried every relaxation technique you’ve ever discovered, but still you feel incomplete. You pamper yourself constantly, but your money disappears into a bottomless pit as you continually come up empty. Everything you’ve read tells you that self care is the way you’ll finally achieve happiness, but no matter how many varied methods of indulgence you use, the outcome is never quite what you imagine.
I know, because I am you. I too have spent endless hours in search of some external way to fill up what’s missing inside. All of it – the foot baths, the massages, the afternoons spent lying on the beach in the sun – it does help temporarily. So we all keep putting in the time and the money, in constant pursuit of fleeting relief. We run in circles, always attempting to feel better but never entirely satisfied.
There’s a reason, and the reason is this: it’s not self care that you’re truly missing. It’s self love.
Self care, in the end, is simply a higher level of coping. While it’s preferable to low levels of coping such as numbing with drugs, alcohol, or food, it is not the real answer. You’re trying to stop the bleeding with paper towels when you actually need to go in and sew up the valve that’s ripped into shreds. Until you address the root of the problem, you won’t find any lasting solution.
Of course, you do self care because it makes sense. You understand how to follow through with it. Discovering self love is difficult, draining, and confusing. Maybe you haven’t tried because you have no idea how to begin – and the truth is that there is no one right way to initiate the journey. The first step is knowing that you are in search of something more and that your current stagnant state will not get you there. Then, most importantly, you have to commit yourself. Prioritize your reconnection to self above everything else in your life.
This is where most people fall out. If you know that you are not quite satisfied or content, but you’re unwilling to put in the necessary effort to evolve, then you can’t progress. It’s that simple. You have to take a good hard look at where you put your energy on a daily basis and understand that you need to make major shifts.
The good news is that often these adjustments don’t involve ramping up, but rather slowing down. Unfortunately, for most, that’s more difficult. This world is so full of distraction and chaos that keeps us from staying in touch with our inner selves. You probably feel overwhelmed with everything that’s already going on in your life. The idea of adding yet another task to the to-do list may seem impossible.
If you’re like me, it’ll take a breaking point to realize that you simply have no choice but to lean in and do the work. It’ll take the knowledge that no one is responsible for your happiness but you, so you better get on it before it’s too late. It won’t be easy, but it’s the most important step you can take in order to live a more fulfilled and truthful life.
I cannot give you a foolproof process that guarantees you achieve self love. It is constant work that you have to maintain for a lifetime, but the idea is that it gets easier as you begin to understand and appreciate yourself. All I can tell you is that it begins by creating the space to reconnect with your inner spirit and listen to what it has to say.
This takes practice, and everyone has their own unique timeline. Once you take ownership of how you think and where you place your energy, you start to trust yourself. You begin making decisions that serve your life in an aligned way, and having the difficult conversations that you might’ve previously delayed. It’s a gradual process, but the shifts undeniably alter your world.
So stop wasting your money, or at the very least, understand that the relief self care brings is merely temporary. Start investing in the only thing that really matters – your inner wellbeing. Once you begin to love yourself, the self care that you need on a regular basis will come intuitively – and likely won’t cost you the money you’re spending now! The world is always more beautiful when you’re living in your authenticity.
Don’t be afraid or intimidated. Beginning is simple, though it may feel uncomfortable to sit with yourself and your thoughts at first. Look at it this way – you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. You can either keep spinning in the same unhealthy cycle, never finding love for yourself, or you can begin to make a real change. The choice is yours for the taking.
(Originally published by Thought Catalog)