When we hear the words “self care” we are often reminded of bubble baths, exercise and maybe some appointments that take care of our physical shell. While luxurious and pleasing, this is not the kind of self care that will float us during a pandemic.
When I think of radical self care, I think about building a reservoir of strength and resilience. Self care is the prescription for stress, anxiety and burnout. The real treatment for these afflictions goes much deeper than our physical shell and must saturate all aspects of our lives.
The Four Agreements have been my mantras over the last 6 months while I have navigated the fear of illness, economic collapse, systemic racism and the pressure on my career (Sorry bubble baths, you’re not making the cut in protecting me against these looming monsters).
The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz are as follows:
- Be impeccable with your word
- Don’t take anything personally
- Don’t make assumptions
- Always do your best
Be impeccable with your word invites us to be honest. To get honest with ourselves about where we’re really at and what we need. It invites us to practice what we preach and do what we say we’re going to do. It shows us the importance of language; what we’re regurgitating and what we’re taking in.
How to apply:
- Watch negative self talk, complaining and gossip
- Watch what you’re posting to social media, and what you’re consuming
- If you say you’re going to start ____, _____, or ______ because you need it and it’s good for you then DO IT
- Ask yourself before you speak;
- Is it true?
- Is it necessary?
- Does it elevate the space?
Don’t take anything personally helps us with conflict during stressful times. I’m sure you may have noticed that anxieties are high right now and people are more reactive. Never forget that people are going through a lot right now. Don’t add to the drama, diffuse it with compassion. Listen. Give space. Speak less and wait. Just like you are a rational person who sometimes overreacts and can go home, think about it and diffuse themselves, so can other people. Most things are not about you.
When faced when conflict:
- Pause and breathe
- Repeat mantra “don’t take anything personally”
- Listen and say less
- Say only what is necessary, no need for long winded responses
Don’t make assumptions invites us to let go of expectation. The Buddha said , “Peace begins when expectation ends.” Let go of how you think things have to be right now. Let go of putting life in a tiny box of limitations. This also invites us to be direct with our language. Don’t assume people know what you’re thinking and what you want, TELL them. Also don’t assume that you know what other people want or need, ASK them.
How to apply:
- Goals and forward thinking are very helpful right now many are feeling stuck. Keep thinking forward, the future has always been uncertain, plan for the best, just don’t be attached to it if things change
- Clean up your language and be honest and direct with peers and your relationships. Remember that clarity is kind
- Communicate as clearly as you can to avoid drama and misunderstandings
- Find the courage to ask for what you really want (both in word, writing and in prayer)
Always do your best invites us to break out of apathy and malaise and go out into the world with a fierceness. Work hard, take care of yourself and look forward to the future no matter what your current circumstances are. Know that “doing your best” will change if you are under huge stressors, illness or change. Know that others are doing their best too, even if it doesn’t look that way.
- Do the things that will move you forward every day
- Wake early, organize yourself and do at least 3 things that you’re excited about working on (home, self or work)
- Have compassion for all other beings and know that they are doing their best, even when they are struggling
- Know that you are doing your best when you’re struggling and things are messy, keep going. Maybe your top 3 on a bad day is eat, shower and make the bed.
For me, THIS is self care. This a system, amongst others, that keeps my head above water. How we take care of ourselves, and how we interact with the world around us to elevate the space, not adding to the drama, is radical self care. Building ourselves up with positivity, cleaning up our language and our thoughts, finding the courage to ask for what we really want, doing the things that we know are good for us and having compassion for all of the people around us. THIS is radical self care during tough times.
If you’d like to read more I highly suggest digesting this book a little further. It’s a quick and easy read.
Take care of yourselves out there folks,