This year I decided not to do any New Year's resolutions. Instead, I set one intention — to prioritize self-care.
The only thing I needed to do for 365 days was take care of me. But less than three weeks into the New Year, my only priority was shattered when I got the flu. Which then turned into laryngitis, resulting in my losing my voice completely. As a public speaker, teacher and life coach, this was crippling.
Perhaps I was being asked to look at my meaning of self-care. I admit that when I first set the intention of focusing on self-care, I meant to make sure I drank more green juice, got my daily yoga session in, hit 10,000 steps on my FitBit, and ate fewer calories. To me, that was prioritizing self-care.
But even in that expectation was more to-dos, ideals and a checklist. I was only focusing on the heath aspect.
So I dropped what I thought needed to happen, and instead went inward to ask myself some difficult questions. The ones I previously avoided by speaking, thinking or doing over.
The questions I asked myself were pivotal in looking at self-care in a holistic manner. Self-care is not just counting calories, the number on the scale or daily yoga sessions and meditation. It is about pausing, reflecting, slowing down before life passes you by.
If you are committed to your health and you want to emphasis self-care, ask yourself these key questions.
1. What am I not saying, but need to address?
When you can't speak, you're left with silence. But even if you don't lose your voice, spending time in silence can be an opportunity to listen to your heart. Without a voice, I also had an opportunity to hear my inner critic — and left unchecked, she's mean. This inner critic was always vibrating through my decisions, whispering "You're not good enough, it will never work, don't let them see you struggle." But by listening to that voice instead of running away from it, I welcomed in true freedom.
Before, I would work or speak over that inner critic. But this time, I nurtured that voice. I went deep into those concerns and gently, compassionately listened. We spend a lot of time thinking our inner critic is bad, but it always has a message for us. If we can address it instead of running from it, we can be free of the emotional burdens.
2. Where do I feel unheard or left out?
Humans spend a lot of time wanting to fit in, belong and be accepted. We unknowingly sacrifice ourselves and our ideas to fit in. This crushes our spirit and affects our confidence. To minimize the damage, speak up and speak from your heart. Instead of worrying about how you can get them to like you, consider asking how you can be truer to yourself. When you are authentic, you'll naturally attract the right people, and you feel heard and appreciated.
3. What fear am I afraid to look at?
We all have insecurities, fears and worries, but under those we have even bigger fears — the ones we hide behind in our behaviors and addictions. What if I don't matter? What if I never make a big enough difference? What if I put everything I have into my dream and it doesn't work? If I fail or die before I live my full potential?
These are the source fears you need to address if you truly want to feel balanced and fulfilled. Looking at your biggest insecurity will help free it. I'm not talking about surface fears like, what if they don't like me or the what if I look fat in an outfit. Go deeper: the what if no one ever truly understands me or what if people always only judge me by my body instead of taking time to see my heart? Get to the heart of your fear to release it.
4. What anger am I holding onto?
Most of us work hard to maintain balance and do our best to take care of ourselves. But let's get real. Life is tough, painful and full of gut-wrenching, raw, exposed moments of unmentioned expectations and failed dreams. This equals anger. Look at what anger you are holding onto. It could be the ex who remarried so soon, or the daughter who never calls unless she needs money. Maybe the anger is with yourself. Let it all go and release the resentment.
Instead, ask what you need to forgive yourself for.
5. What is my motivation, and is that serving me?
Do you ever ask yourself why you're working so hard? When I got sick and lost my voice, the multiple projects, book edits, product launches, coaching sessions all disappeared because I physically, mentally and spiritually was unable to do them. I realized how hard I was working before and for what. Instead of trying to reach some number goal, I had to go inward and return to my why. Instead of asking what I could get, I started to ask what I could give. How could I help? Look at your own motivation and see what you can give instead of trying to get.
6. How can I love myself more today?
When I was sick, I held my body and sent it love and light. I was gentle and practiced self-forgiveness. This was radically different from the old me. Before, I would have been pissed I was sick and mad I was missing so much work. But self-care means being kind to yourself. It's gentle. Sometimes self-care is pausing, shutting down the computer, stop talking and just going inward and listening to your heart. Sometimes self-care is as simple as saying, Dear self, you did the best you could today and that is enough. And tomorrow we will try again.
To create your on self-care list, grab this Free Love Your Life to The Fullest Guide.