One of the reasons I started this blog is because I have learned a thing or two about unleashing awesomeness which I wanted to share with others. This doesn’t mean I think I’m more awesome than you (LOUD AWKWARD LAUGH). It’s just that each of us is born with our own unique stuff that equals our own flavour of awesome, and so few of us are letting it out.
In other words: we all own a pair of superhero pants. We just don’t always feel like wearing them.
If you don’t pull on those pants, that is okay. Nobody will know.
Maybe that makes you go “phew”. Nobody will react to your gawky jokes. Nobody will be made to feel uncomfortable by your quirks. You won’t risk people’s goodwill by challenging their assumptions about you, others, or the situation you find yourselves in. You’ll be free to mooch around under the radar. No ripple will be made unless you want it to be made.
Maybe you feel tired. Maybe you feel like you’re always busy. Some days there are glimpses of your awesomeness, but a lot of the time it’s hard to remember when you last wore your superhero pants.
It’s like your superhero pants are at the bottom of the pile of dirty washing and their label says ‘hand wash only’. It felt great wearing those pants, but you simply don’t have the energy to wash them. Jeez, you can barely do the one load a week of non-crease easy wash work clothes and comfy bottoms you need to get to Friday.
Showstopper of the week: You will wear your superhero pants again if you can commit to one thing.
That one thing? Take care of yourself.
Self care is not selfish. I know that’s hard to hear. It is not a sign that you value yourself more than others. It is the oxygen mask you fit before helping others as the plane plummets. If you can’t breathe, you can’t help them to.
The best self care begins with curiosity.
Imagine you are faced with a small teary child. You know what might be lacking: they are hungry, thirsty, they miss their parent, they are uncomfortable with their surroundings, they are poorly, they can’t have a sixth chocolate biscuit even though you have explained it will give them stomach ache. What do you do? You get curious. You sit with them. You ask them questions, you empathise, you reassure. They are feeling sad, so it’s not so easy for you, but you sit with them all the same. You might give them a wee hug. Then you choose something together that has a good chance of making them feel better.
In this situation I can’t believe for a second you would have told the child that they weren’t worthy of a solution, or something else was more important. This is what self care looks like. The simplest things are not the easiest.
Growing your own way of caring for yourself is like learning to bake. It takes a few goes until you get the knack. Sometimes it doesn’t work, even when you follow a tried and tested recipe in an oven you’ve used a hundred times. That’s just the way it is. I can recommend a mindfulness practice, YouTube yoga, going for a run, or sticking your phone on Airplane mode. But you are not me, and your things will be different from my things.
The only person you need to get curious about is you. Feels selfish. Really selfish. And sometimes it’s hard. Really hard. Sometimes self-care means sitting with yourself while you feel sad.
One more image before I leave you to the rest of your cuppa:
When a plane takes off in the rain, it has to ascend through cloud cover. It’s dark and grey. There’s sometimes turbulence. But above the clouds there is always sun. Blue sky and sun. It’s worth the turbulence and the time in the grey.
So that’s it. Take care of you. Don’t apologise. Then you might just find your superhero pants are clean and ready for you to pull them on and be awesome.
PS: I’m trying a new ‘nudge’ every week to carry on learning what does and what doesn’t work for me. Follow me at @marathonshine on Twitter and check out the #weeklynudge hashtags to see how that’s going, and feel free to join in!
Claire Eadington geeks out on workflow management, performance and wellbeing. Claire’s TEDx talk about barriers to performance for exceptional women kicked off the 2017 TEDxWhitehallWomen event in London.
Claire writes a weekly blog, Self Curious, on NPW’s website.
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