Us men often hear we need to do more self-care in therapy groups as well as in recovery. But what is self-care? Which self are we supposed to care about and how?
To me, self-care is synonymous with healthy and joyful living. Whatever is healthy and allows me to live well and have fun doing it is self-care.
Implicit in “having fun with it,” is this requirement: Your self-care cannot become another to-do list item you torture yourself with. The moment self-care becomes another “should,” it is no longer self-care but self-abuse.
Let’s replace “self-care” with the words “self-honouring.”
This includes everything we do physically, from going to the gym to eating healthy to sexual pleasure. If you are deciding to exercise as a way of honouring yourself, then choose something that is also FUN to do. The same goes for anything else you do for your body. If you want to honour yourself with what you eat, don’t make only healthy meals. Make meals that are both healthy and delicious.
Be selective in who you spend time with. Some friendships are not meant to last a lifetime. As you change, your social life changes too. Make space for people who are respectful and supportive of you. Honour yourself by spending time with joyful, motivated people who are also leading a healthy, self-honouring lifestyle.
Work with someone! Find a therapist/ guide that gets you and sticks with your weekly sessions. The skills you learn in therapy will strengthen you psychologically. Don’t think you are ready to “do it on your own” just because you were in recovery for a month or two. Honour yourself emotionally by receiving support from a qualified therapist.
Ask yourself the big questions. Who am I really? What are my deepest, most profound desires in life? How can I feel connected with something that includes me yet is also infinitely larger than me? When do I feel most connected to a feeling of sacredness? Remember spirituality doesn’t have to include beliefs. You don’t have to believe in anything to feel a sense of significance and connection to Life. Honour the miracle of being alive.
Changing lifelong habits is not easy and comes at a cost. The cost we must pay is the discomfort inherent in healing and growth. This discomfort, if we allow it, can also bring out the best in us.
Remember, those who don’t know devastation cannot know gratitude.
Use discomfort as a reminder of what it means to be alive: Some days are amazing, some days are shitty. Life includes many ups and downs, but no matter what you are going through or feeling in the moment, you can always take a step back from your experience and notice the pure sensation of being alive.
As you heal and grow, and as you awaken spiritually, you are going to recognize how simple and beautiful life can be when we know what we must prioritize in order to live well.
Keep breathing and keep honouring yourself in everything you do and say.
You are alive, enjoy it!