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You Don’t Need A Reason to Be Good to Yourself

Are you saving the good sheets for guests, a clothing purchase for when you lose weight or a weekend away for when work slows down? Ask yourself four questions.

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illustration of woman taking a bath surrounded by candles
Alexandra Bowman
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I recall having a coaching session with a client from my employee wellbeing practice. A woman I deeply admire: who climbed the ranks of her organization, eventually being promoted to the head of the company, a constant giver to her staff and family. During our conversation she mentioned some hesitancy in buying herself a bag she’d been eying or taking some time off to decompress. For her, personal gifts and time off is reserved for special occasions. But I looked at her and said, “but you’re special and that should be enough”.

Her story is not so unfamiliar. I come from a long line of women who practiced delayed gratification, voluntary asceticism and merited self-kindness. The notion of being good to yourself, just because wasn’t a part of my upbringing and when you did it was considered an indulgence – something you did occasionally, but never as a way of life.

And to be clear, being good to yourself doesn’t have to be financially costly, it can be as simple as taking a break during the day, using the good china for ourselves or visiting a favorite local spot in the middle of the week because it makes us happy.

Similar to me, for many of us our upbringing may influence our beliefs around what we deserve and when we deserve it. Do any of the below childhood experiences resonate with you?

Sunday Best: Growing up, did you have a set of clothes designated for church and outings, sometimes referred to as your “Sunday Best”? Clothes that were only to be worn during special occasions and never anyplace as ordinary as say, the library.

No Dessert: When you were a child, what was the rule about desserts after dinner? Were you frequently admonished when you grew bored of what was on your plate and wanted dessert instead? Perhaps you can recall a parent wagging their finger at you and saying, “No dessert until you finish your dinner”.

Finish Your Homework: Or do you recall coming home from school and feeling like you really needed to go outside and play a bit before settling into homework, but your request to go outside before homework was frowned upon?

What impact might these experiences have on us as we get older? Being taught that the nicer things of life should be reserved for special occasions (Sunday Best)? Or that taking pleasure in things we enjoy must follow enduring things we don’t (No Dessert). Or perhaps, giving in to what our mind and body needs is only acceptable after prolonged periods of self-discipline (Finish Your Homework).

Our childhood upbringing may be challenging our sense of worth and our concept of self-kindness in adulthood. This can play out in a variety of ways, for example, reserving your best dishes and sheets for company, instead of using them ourselves. Or designating certain conditions, days or parameters when we can enjoy something we cherish, for example a bubble bath, instead of enjoying it whenever we feel like it. Also, creating rules around rest, like taking breaks, naps or sleeping in. Rules that constrain instead of nourish.

I’m not against treating or rewarding yourself, but if everything that you relish has to come in the form of a reward or a treat to enjoy it guilt free, then maybe there’s an opportunity for a shift in perspective. We can reimagine a new way of thinking that better supports us and serves our greater good. Below are a few questions to ask yourself to get started:

  • ·What do I consider an indulgence? Why?
  • What are my beliefs around rest (inclusive of getting enough sleep, naps, breaks, vacations, etc.)? When do I allow myself to rest? Why?
  • What are some of my favorite places and spaces? How frequently do I visit them? Why?
  • What are some of my favorite things that I own? How frequently do I use them? Why?

Now look at your Why responses, likely statements that justify your beliefs, and ask yourself, “But is that true?”
Life narratives, even the ones that don’t serve us, become ingrained because they’re rarely ever challenged. By acknowledging the narratives we tell ourselves and challenging them, we begin to break down their logic and open up the possibility for shifting our thinking.

Sis, you don’t need a reason to be good to yourself. Self-kindness is not something we earn, it’s something we embody. So put the 2000 thread count sheets on your bed, take the nap, visit the museum in the middle of the week and love on yourself as much as you can, every, single day!

Follow Article Topics: Me-Time