What You Don’t Know About Self- Care That Will Inspire You to Action
Self-care is a system for self-trust
Most self-care articles tell you what activities you should do — take breaks, get more sleep, drink more water. I could go on. The truth is, you know this.
Like a smoker seeing anti-smoking campaigns and continuing to smoke, you read these self-care articles and subscribe to a health newsletter but cannot make the adjustments to your routine.
In my 2018 TEDx talk, ‘How to Create Micro Wins’ I spoke about closing the gap between knowledge and taking action.
As the author, Derek Sivers says:
“If all it took were knowledge, we’d all be billionaires with six-pack abs.”
For you to close the gap, understand that every time you hit the snooze button or default to Netflix instead of your planned walk, you break the promise you made to yourself.
The most devastating consequence of this repeated pattern is you dent your self-trust, confidence and then the inner critic arrives at the exact moment to kick you when you’re down.
It’s time to reframe self-care from a single isolated action you ‘should do’ like exercise or meditation to developing a self-trust system and creating daily progress one micro win at a time.
A micro win is the first step towards a greater goal. It is the first LEGO brick in the sequence. It can be a ten-minute walk or writing the first sentence of a blog post.
Adopt an attitude of Micro Bravery
To develop a self-care routine, courage is the ticket to play.
Real bravery is not about the activity you do; it is about taking the plunge to choose yourself as your why and developing unconditional friendliness towards yourself first.
With this approach, you can make decisions in your own best interest, like taking a break for lunch instead of charging through your day fatigued.
How to apply this practically:
Let’s say you want to start walking regularly. You set your alarm for 6 am on Monday because you always start on a Monday. Now imagine two scenarios:
Your alarm goes off, you pick up your phone, hit the snooze button, and wake up at 7 am in a panic.
You lie in bed annoyed with yourself, start scrolling through your emails and react in a frenzy to other people’s urgencies.
It disappoints you that you didn’t go for a walk, but you figure you’ll ditch the entire day and start again tomorrow.
There’s no harm in getting that doughnut for breakfast, but after eating it, the self-critic shows up to remind you that you’re lazy and people like you can never get it right.
Your alarm sounds. You switch it off and get dressed immediately.
Your clothes are already laid out, and the app is ready to go, so you don’t have to waste any energy wondering what you should be doing.
You head out the door, do your fifteen-minute walk and come back feeling like a champion.
You celebrate your micro win with a floss dance and begin the day in a peak state. Nothing can get you down because you showed up to yourself. You won the day before it has even begun.
Self-care is not just about getting up and doing the walk; many factors are going on behind the scenes to build your self-trust:
Acknowledge your micro wins.
By acknowledging even fifteen minutes of activity, you are giving yourself credit for your accomplishment.
With your work goals, you only pay attention to a win if it’s significant, like closing a big account or hitting a certain bank balance.
The problem with this approach is you aren’t internalizing who you are becoming on your journey. When you eventually get the fancy title, you feel like an imposter, and everyone will figure out you do not know what you’re doing.
Celebrating daily micro wins is about giving yourself credit for the small steps and creating evidence for the person you are becoming.
It is identity-based and no longer outcome-based. Healthy people go for walks; successful people take time out for reflection.
You are creating evidence that you are worth showing up to yourself and that you can rely on yourself to follow through.
Make self-praise familiar.
When someone last complimented you, did you say thank you? Or did you try to convince them why it can’t possibly be true?
Accepting praise is difficult for most people. By acknowledging and celebrating your micro win, you are locking in the habit of being nice to yourself — the greatest reward of a self-care routine.
Psychologist Marissa Peer says the mind likes what is familiar and dislikes what is unfamiliar.
The desire for the familiar is why someone who wins the lottery defaults back to their original financial status within a few years.
Self-praise will feel uncomfortable at first but persevere because the only way to create progress is acknowledging your accomplishments. No matter how insignificant they may seem.
You can’t wait for the future outcomes to satisfy you; be your own cheerleader and begin with the daily wins to fill your self-trust and confidence tank.
Develop the ultimate habit of showing up.
It’s not enough to schedule yourself into the calendar.
If you don’t master the habit of showing up to yourself, you can’t improve the finer details.
Make a specific decision about what you will do the night before, and don’t question it. Your mind will do everything to persuade you with excuses like it’s early or you should lie in.
Beware of trying to convince yourself that you need to feel like doing the walk or writing your blog post. Motivation and self-trust come from doing, not thinking about doing.
Notice how I have suggested you need as little as fifteen minutes to create your micro win. You do not need to slog it out for an hour.
The aim is to create evidence that you can trust yourself to keep these commitments.
Once you know you can depend on yourself, this personal power will spill over into all aspects of your life.
Having a dedicated self-care routine builds both physical strength and mental strength. You develop traits like resilience, confidence, and tenacity. Here’s an example of how this showed up for me:
After a night of severely disrupted sleep because of my sick daughter, I had to get up to meet my trainer in the gym at 5 am. I ignored my mind’s tactics to convince me I should lie in and got to the gym.
What surprised me was how, after fifteen minutes, I got into it and finished the session strong and energized.
A few weeks later, the same disrupted sleep happened, but now I had to show up to a conference and deliver a keynote to a packed auditorium for ninety minutes.
If I didn’t have the experience of getting up for the gym session, my self-talk would have convinced me I’ll never manage, and I won’t do a good job.
I had proved to myself that even when the circumstances aren’t perfect, I can still show up, dig down deep and find somewhere to put the tired because I had a responsibility to my client.
Don’t wait for a challenging situation to show how strong and resilient you can be.
Self-care is a system to prove to yourself every day that you can show up despite what life presents.
When you reframe self-care as a system to develop self-trust, you will no longer associate the actions with feelings like guilt and anxiety.
Adopt an attitude of micro bravery and have the courage to treat yourself with unconditional friendliness.
With this attitude, you will no longer use busy as an excuse to neglect your self-care.
Start with one new habit, schedule it into your calendar for fifteen minutes, and honor the commitment like you would for anyone else you respect.
Show up by taking action no matter how small, celebrate your micro-win and acknowledge the fresh evidence that you truly can trust yourself to keep your promises.
Show up on the days you feel like it and especially on the days you don’t.
Here’s to choosing yourself,
I’ve created an ultimate guide to Show Up To Yourself: In Life & Business to help you build new habits, manage your inner critic and truly own your days.