A Beginners Guide to Self-Care - Without the Fluff By: Aly Marie Kruppenbacher
Self-Care is defined by Oxford (and google) as “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.”
In many ways, you may read that definition and say, “I do that. I take care of myself.” But I’d like to take a moment here to dive a little deeper. With that being said, let’s dive into some commonly googled phrases around “self-care.”
Let’s start with Self-Help Books, and more specifically - what they can do for you, and what they can’t
Self-help books aren’t self-help, but they do educate us about how to practice self-help. Do yourself a favor and re-read that, because it’s important to understand that reading a self-help book isn’t going to change your life.
Self-help books can inspire you, motivate you, and guide you, but changing your life is ultimately going to be determined by the work that you do on yourself. Only you can do the work and make the changes to improve your life on a foundational level.
Reading about the work that others have done on themselves and how they improved their lives can be inspiring and give you some ideas on how you can start to take better care of yourself, but I suggest doing some serious soul searching before you dive into another person’s self-care regimen.
Next up, Self-Care for Beginners, and more specifically - where you should begin regardless of the marketed self-help industry’s google results If you’re seriously considering jumping into the self-care, self-help, personal development, self-improvement, transformational experience, then here’s where you need to guide your brain for a quick introduction.
Self-care, self-help, personal development, self-improvement, transformative learning and so on, start with tuning into your self-awareness. What is an area of your day to day life that you could work on? Are you an angry person? Are you easily offended by other people? Are putting junk food and carcinogens in your body? Are you simply not getting enough sleep because you’re too busy or too stressed?
Check out these journal prompts to help you gain some more insight.
Let’s face it - we all have our “stuff” and whether that “stuff” is related to what you were raised like, what your experiences have been, or fear of what’s to come -
It’s your “stuff” to take responsibility for.
Self-care, self-help, personal development, self-improvement, transformative learning (I don’t mean to sound like a broken record here, but I think using all of these common words is important to make sure there’s no miscommunication) isn’t about achieving nirvana, ultimate happiness, never feeling depression or anxiety again.
Side Note: If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety, there’s a great workbook to help you learn some diffusion techniques for when you’re struggling.
In fact, Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, makes an amazing point in his blog about the self-help experience:
“Self-help reinforces perceptions of inferiority and shame.”
I highly suggest reading his article, it’s an eye-opener, and I want to build on that here to further your beginner's mind in the self-care experience.
Nothing in this world is black and white - except for those cookies, penguins, and newspapers.
Comic relief aside, you are not defined in black and white terms. You’re not a “good” person or a “bad” person. You’re just a person who is innately human, and being human comes with making mistakes.
A quick example of this in action: One of my coworkers was recently telling me about her grandson who did something naughty, and she told me that he said “I’m a bad boy, grandma,” but she replied with, “no honey, you’re not a bad boy, you just did a bad thing. There’s a difference.”
So next time you find your self-talk talking in black and white terms, make sure you remember this example. It’s time to eliminate the extremes from our vocabulary, especially with regard to how we talk to ourselves.
Key Takeaways Here:
● You are responsible for your “stuff”
● You will likely never be completely free of or immune to negative feelings, but you can build on your self-awareness to lighten the burden and eliminate black and white thinking. Turn feelings of shame and inferiority into opportunities for reflection and growth
Last, but certainly not least, should you ask for help on your self-care, personal development journey?
My short answer - ABSOLUTELY. I personally think everyone could benefit from an accountability partner in their self-care experience.
Here are 3 solid ways you can benefit from asking for help in your self-care experience:
1. Life coaches, social workers, therapists, you name it - each of these professionals are trained to ask you questions that will help you give yourself advice, direction, and overall help you to establish a clear vision. That’s probably a little confusing to read at first - but these professionals that you’d receive help from are not there to give you advice. They’re there to help you dig deep and find the answers to your questions within yourself. They’re there to be your accountability partner.
2. Life coaches, social workers, therapists - they are there to support you. It’s so important to have a good support system when you tackle anything as big as making foundational changes in your life.
3. Life coaches, social workers, therapists - will motivate you, but more importantly, they will help you find the motivational voice inside yourself.
Whatever self-care, self-help, personal development, self-improvement, transformative learning, etc. looks like for you - remember these three things:
1. You are ultimately responsible for your “stuff” and your self-care journey is going to be unique.
2. Nothing is black and white. You can be a good person who does bad things.
3. Asking for help shouldn’t be looked at as a weakness, but instead as a strength. It shows humility and commitment to the journey you’re embarking on.
Meet Aly, a life coach from the suburbs just an hour north of NYC who’s helped people from all walks of life. With her formal education in multiple areas such as criminal justice, psychology, education, counseling, and public health, Aly has an abundance of knowledge that she applies in her coaching strategies.
Aly is an introspective life coach who helps people from all walks of life identify the things that are getting in the way of them living their most exceptional lives. To contact Aly, please visit her website http://www.ourexceptionallives.com