Are You Practicing Self-Care or Self-Sabotage?

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“Girl, wyd?” Today, we’re calling ourselves out because, sometimes, you just have to check yourself. It’s a new year and dreams and aspirations are running high. Everyone is making vision boards and creating goal lists and we’re all confident that 2018 is our year; and it is – or, rather, it could be. Like every other year, 2018 is likely to bring on some challenges and create some stress. Yet, everyone that I’ve talked to seems to be prepared for these challenges and they all have a common defense plan: practicing self-care.

Here’s what I’ve been hearing:

“I will not let this [job/person/vehicle/situation] stress me out this year. Nope, I will cut it off or remove myself before I let it stress me out because of self-care. “

At this point, the idea of self-care has taken over all media and there are so many self-care gurus out there encouraging you all to protect your peace at all costs. And I’m absolutely here for protecting your peace – but if we’re being honest here, the “at all costs” part probably isn’t the best advice.

See, the idea of self-care can easily become really dreamy, and this is coming from the Pisces daydreamer herself. The vision of a bubble bath and a bottle of wine after a long day of work or school sounds great. The thought of purchasing an expensive bag as a reward for submitting your work in on time sounds even better. Or what about those days where we say we’re not leaving the bed to do anything because we “deserve” a self-care day? Sound familiar? I bet. And all of those things are perfectly okay to do as self-care, as long as you’re not abusing them.

So, I bet you’re reading this like “Jasmine, girl. How can self-care ever be abused?” And I’ve got the answer: Self-care is abused when it is overused as an excuse to “treat yo self” when you really need to CHECK yo self. If you find yourself surrounded by rewards but lacking in goal completion, it’s time to reevaluate your definition of self-care. Self-care is not always about indulging in whatever makes you feel good; sometimes self-care is doing the things that you don’t really want to do so that you can be better off. Some days it isn’t about feeling relaxed and stress-free, it’s about doing what HAS to be done so that you can literally take CARE of your SELF.

Using self-care as an excuse to skip a work meeting that you probably need to attend to secure those coins probably isn’t really self-care, sis. “But Jasmine, what if I hate my job?” Calling in sick to stay in bed doesn’t sound like the best tactic to figure out what your next career move should be, especially since once you’ve run out of sick days, you’re still going to be employed there (trust me, been there and done that). In all seriousness, self-care, in that case, should look more like filling out job applications day and night ONLY at places that would make you feel better or finally figure out what you need to start the business that you have on your vision board. That’s pursuing your peace. Drinking wine or getting high to relax and not stress over your problems, don’t actually make your problems go away. And can we talk about finances? We have to. Maxing out your credit card on items that you “deserve” when you’re mad, sad, happy, etc. isn’t self-care. It’s actually the complete opposite because now you’re going to want to take a “personal day” away from your credit card interest and that’s not happening. Financial freedom is self-care; lifting up your credit score and lowering your debt so that you can pursue the things that are on your vision board, like purchasing a vehicle or a home this year, is self-care. Buying yourself that expensive item or taking yourself on that expensive trip is going to feel so much better once you realize that you don’t have to pay for it two times over.

Do you see the pattern yet? Irresponsibility & impulsivity rarely equal self-care. It actually leads to self-sabotage and often leaves you where you started, or worse.

And I’m guilty too! I’m a grad student and I’m completely against all-nighters; if I don’t get my 6-8 hours of sleep, then I’m absolutely no good the next day. Yet, I still found myself pulling several of them last semester and even skipped classes to complete assignments that I had WEEKS to complete. How? I always had an excuse for why I could push an assignment back and the majority of them related back to a broken definition of self-care. I finished the semester with a 4.0 but I made that semester so much harder for myself because of all of the days I was tired/stressed/frustrated/grieving/in need of fun/etc. and deserved a night off from school work. And when I really needed a self-care day because I had gotten the flu, I had to carry my contagious ass to class because I had already used my two excusable absences to either sleep in or finish another class’s assignment. Lesson learned.

So I want you to take a look at your vision board or create one if you haven’t already. Think about what you want. Think about what HAS to be done to achieve it. Think about your everyday responsibilities and what they require, regardless of whether you like doing them or not. Think about where you are in life and, if you’re happy with it, what it takes from you to maintain it; if you’re not happy with it, what needs to happen to change it? Really think about what needs to happen so that you can truly take care of yourself and find some peace and then pursue it.

Assess the ways in which you might be self-sabotaging your life in the name of self-care. Overspending or procrastination? Or using alcohol, drugs or toxic people to avoid confronting your reality? Repeatedly quitting your jobs, signing up for new credit cards, etc.

And then do the work. Literally. Do what you have to do so that you can do what you want to do and be who you want to be – AKA live your best life, sis. Check yourself, OFTEN. Call yourself out when you fall into old habits. And most importantly, gain a true understanding of what self-care is for you and, when appropriate, “treat yo self” for accomplishing those real goals.