by Caprice Johnson
The Art of Extreme Self Care - I laugh and roll my eyes at this title. Anything that sounds a little too airy fairy…I’m more of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People person than someone who wants to take care of myself through ‘Art’. I picked up this book about 3 years ago after an incredibly difficult divorce. I read 2 pages and promptly put it away, never to be seen again.
Three years later, this book called my name when I uncovered it in the garage. This time I read it cover to cover. There is a time and place for everything! Not only was I reading this book now for me, but many of the themes from our last Bliss Sisters meeting on Fear were addressed in what I was reading. Guess what? I fear this little blog entry! I am not a writer, but I am doing it anyway in hopes you all, my Sisters, get something out of this!
OK, so this book wants you to take care of yourself. We as women so need to take care of ourselves FIRST before giving to our careers, husbands, children, elderly parents, so on and so forth. I am now learning, we as women love to give give give and then we are left empty empty empty. I have been giving all my energy to my job and a new relationship that has been so exciting and wonderful!!.....what is wrong with that? Nothing if you can remember your quiet time. I am easily excitable, which I love, but I really need to settle down and take care of myself- by myself.
Do YOU need to learn this Art? Ask yourself some questions:
Are you feeling empty and resentful?
Are you a ‘good’ girl?
Do you feel deprived of sleep/ emotional support/ time to yourself?
Do you ever find yourself giving, and then OVERgiving hoping you will get what you need in return?
What we need to do is Fall In Love With Ourselves. Think about how you are and how you act when you are in Love. You take care. You nourish. You are attentive. You are conscious! Can you choose to make some time to nourish this relationship? Take a mind and soul break by doing what you love…bath, walk, workout, yoga, take yourself to the mountains or the beach. Go out to a new restaurant, even though nobody wants to go with you…you know what you love!
Now, let me disappoint you…. Who over commits their energy and time as an ongoing theme?? Time to say NO, Sisters! You must learn to manage your own anxiety that arises when other people are disappointed or hurt. We must get over ‘playing small’ as Marianne Williamson puts it and not be everything to everyone. When asked to do something that we may automatically say YES, Of Course! to (and resent it later…) do these 3 things:
1.Buy some time- say ‘I’ll get back to you’...no auto response here!
2. Do a gut check. You have the time to ask yourself ‘If I knew this person wouldn’t be angry, disappointed or upset, would I say no? and also on a scale of 1-10 where does this request land?
3.Tell the truth- with grace and love. Learn the language of letting someone down.
And what about requesting help from other people? You can’t possibly live a life of taking care of yourself without assistance from others. Life just gets busier! Can you let go for a little while and let others take the wheel? And by ‘letting go’, I mean you pick the level of letting go. Please don’t expect your 13 year old daughter to cook a perfect Thanksgiving dinner for 6, I mean start with her cleaning her own dishes after dinner! What you can do is figure out ways your family (for instance) can help out more. Make a list titled: Things you can do to support me. In the book, it will help you figure out your parameters of the help you need and possible time lines and/or consequences of not helping. This can also be applied to other areas of your life.
The book goes on to help you figure out your absolute NO list…things you will not tolerate from disrespect to taking calls at meals - just as examples. The book also talks about the true impact of our surroundings and LOVING the place we live so it can nourish our soul.
There is more to the book, but the bulk of the work is what I have posted. The last meeting with the Sisters was incredibly powerful for me. We all have fear. We know there are consequences to every choice we make. But right now, today, lets start loving ourselves, trusting ourselves to know what is right for us. This will diminish the fear of making a decision, asking for help, saying no to a request.
I have started doing this in my relationships, but only learned this kind of stuff after my divorce. I see the work of my new attitude reflected back to me in a more loving partnership with my boyfriend. I still struggle in other areas of my life, hence why I read this book cover to cover when I found it again! We are all works in progress and I hope this little write up helped you in some way!