Commitments and Self-care.

I can keep commitments.  No problem.  I am rarely late for a lunch date, and on the extremely rare occasion I forget an appointment, I am utterly mortified.  I am totally speculating here, but it seems to me, women are hard wired to keep commitments – it’s threaded into our DNA.  Women are caregivers by nature and by nurture and when you care for someone, you keep commitments.  This is a very good thing.  Our caregiver commitments protected us from extinction.  Women are responsible for the future of the human race – but hey, no pressure! 

But can you keep commitments to yourself, especially self-care commitments?  If you are at all like me, it’s a struggle.  Somehow, the bit of DNA that codes for keeping commitments to oneself is overshadowed by our caregiver commitments. 

You’ve done your bit – kids are launched, your career is established (or like me, done and starting afresh) – it’s high time you made yourself – your self-care – a priority.  Even if you are in the thick and thin of raising a family and balancing a career, make your self-care a priority.

Yeah right, Dr. Karen.  (I can hear your eyes rolling.)  Are you aware that there are only 24 hours in a day?  

Yep, I am fully aware…. And it’s the best news ever – there are 24 hours in every day!  Assuming you sleep 8 of those 24 hours (yes, I know – big assumption, and the topic for future discussion) that leaves 16 hours for family, career and you.  DECIDE to take 1 of those hours for you.  That leaves 15 hours for everyone else.  More than a fair trade.  

Dare to demonstrate to your daughter(s) (future mothers) and your son(s) (future husbands/fathers) that self-care is important for everyone. 

But how can you start to keep self-care commitments?

  • As with most things, increasing your awareness is the first step.  Notice how often you keep commitments to yourself (or not.)  If you keep them, BRAVO!  If you are not this exceptional woman (yet), start to gather data.  DO NOT be judgey, be curious.  This is crucial. This is NOT an exercise in shaming.  We are simply gathering evidence to make a thoughtful decision.  Keep a list on your phone – both WINs (when you did keep a commitment to yourself) and MISSes – and when you did not keep a commitment to yourself.    

As you collect your data, look for patterns.  Again, be curious not judgey!  What is different about a WIN versus a MISS?  What were you thinking, how were you feeling, before during and after each win or miss? 

  • Audit your priorities – often.  It’s a highly recommended quarterly activity.  Sadly, this reassessment is neglected until the turn of the calendar year, tax time or life throws an interesting twist/crisis in your path.  What would a quarterly audit of your routine activities illustrate about your priorities?  Would it show your priorities are actually your priorities?  Or are your priorities shunted to the end of the line when life gets ‘interesting?’  Are you spending your time where you think you are spending your time?  (for more on establishing priorities check out Essentialism.)
  • Choose your imbalances in life with intention.  Balance in life is just not a thing.  Accept it.  True balance in life would be boring and mediocre.  A vibrant life is all about imbalance.  Imagine if everything in life were to receive equal attention.   Your partner, child, neighbor, friend, and co-worker all got equal attention?  You would never develop deep meaningful relationships.  Dusting, vacuuming, yardwork, traveling, working – all in a neat tidy balance?  You would never experience the excitement of a novel experience.  You meet your newborn’s outrageous demands on your time.  You willingly accept a pile of paperwork after a three week vacation in Italy with your best friend.  Imbalance makes our lives rich and fulfilling.
  • Understand your why.  Try ‘The Five Why’s’ thought experiment.  Take a goal – such as I want to eat better and ask yourself why.  With each answer ask yourself why?  After 5 answers you will have a deeper understanding of why you want something. 

For example.
I want to eat better. Why?  So I can lose weight.
Why do you want to lose weight?  So I can look better in my clothes?
Why do you want to look better in your clothes?  So I can be more confident.
Why do you want to be more confident?  So I can ask for a promotion.
Why do you want a promotion?  I am ambitious.     

Huh!?! You don’t just want to eat better, you want to be more confident and ambitious.  WAY better reason.  You are much more likely to stick with it when the going gets a bit rough, if confidence and ambition are the end goal. 

  • Take risks.  Sometimes we risk.  Sometimes we play it safe.  Choose the former.  I’m not sure yet, but 30+ years from now, I believe I would rather remember with fondness the risks I took and perhaps stumbled through rather than remember with regret the risks I never took.

Keeping commitments to oneself – it is possible.  Increase awareness, audit your priorities often, choose your imbalances in life with intention, understand your why and take risks.  Not only will you keep commitment to yourself, but you will enrich your life and the lives of those you love! 

Buff it up my friends,
Dr. Karen

Are you ready to Buff Up Your Brain? Ready to, lose weight, increase your mental clarity and polish up your thoughts? Let’s chat.