Self Care and taking care of yourself is NOT the same thing.
Before you say that they are, considering they’re the same words, they aren’t the same concept.
You have to understand the difference between the two in order to have a healthy relationship with them both.
So what IS the difference?
Taking care of yourself is providing yourself the bare minimum that you need in order to survive. And when I say survive, I’m not just talking about just like food and water. I’m talking about survive and live.
Wearing clean clothes, showering, brushing your teeth, drinking water, eating good food, etc.
Self Care is everything over and above that. It can be face masks and bubble baths, but it could also be playing on the Xbox, binging Netflix shows, reading comics, taking a nap. Anything that helps you check out for a bit and recharge your battery.
Imagine that you have a large, beautiful garden. It’s full of gorgeous flowers, herbs, veggies.
You have a bucket that you use to water the garden. You know those old fashioned tin farm buckets? One of those.
You take the bucket and go to the water spigot. The water turns on and you fill your bucket. You take it to your garden and go to pour it only to find that it’s almost empty. You’re so confused because not even 30 seconds ago it was full.
You second guess yourself and think maybe you’re going crazy, so you go back to the spigot and fill the bucket. The same thing happens.
You finally look at the bucket and realize that there are dozens of holes in this bucket. They weren’t very noticeable at the beginning because you filled it to the top. But by the time you got to your garden, there’s hardly anything left.
The garden is your life.
The bucket is taking care of yourself.
The water inside is self care.
Self care is what you need to fill your bucket so you can water your garden. But if your bucket is full of holes, it’s going to be pretty freaking useless when it comes time to actually use that stored up self care.
Self care is absolutely needed, but if you don’t get it in the right order, it’s going to end up pouring out faster than you can pour it in and you’ll continue to wonder why you feel so empty.
“I’m doing the self care, Karleigh. I’m listening to the podcasts and doing my nails. I’m reading the books and doing face masks. I’m doing all the things and yet I still feel so empty.”
My question to you is: when was the last time you took a shower? When is the last time you got a full night’s sleep or brushed your teeth or drank some water?
When was the last time you really took care of yourself? If it’s been awhile, that explains why you feel so empty.
Disclaimer: I’m aware that other things can come into play like PTSD, depression, trauma. But I believe that starting by repairing your bucket is going to help all of those other things. I’m not saying that it will fix anything, but I do know that it will help. And if it will help, why not try it?
Prefer to watch? See below!
Alright, you’ve got your bucket and it’s full of holes. It’s leaking everywhere. But why does this matter?
We can use self care against ourselves.
We use self care to hide how bad things are. This is something I did when I was still in the midst of an abusive relationship. I was posting all over Facebook about how great things were, how I took bubble baths when my son was in bed. I shared pictures of my feet kicked up on the couch and reading a ton of books. Face masks and luxurious self care was all I posted.
Everyone thought I was doing great. But no one knew that I was wearing the same dirty clothes five days in a row. No one knew that I was dizzy from dehydration or that I hated myself.
I made up for the holes in my bucket by pouring in loads of self care. People looked at the top and saw how full it was and assumed that I was fine.
But no one looked at the bottom of the bucket where water was pouring out. They didn’t think about what would happen if I turned the water off.
It is so important for us to call ourselves out and accept that we have not been taking care of ourselves.
A lot of times we’re using self care as an excuse not to take care of ourselves. We say that our self care is taking a shower and calling it good.
But here’s the deal: showering is not self care.
Showering is providing yourself with the bare minimum you need to take care of yourself. This is something that needs to be done regularly, not once in awhile.
This is extremely difficult to wrap our heads around because in the abusive relationship, we were taught that our thoughts, feelings and emotions didn’t matter.
We were taught that we couldn’t ask for help, that showering was selfish, and you weren’t allowed to take care of yourself.
But when you didn’t take care of yourself you were shamed for not being good enough. There’s no winning here and that’s what your brain has latched onto.
You believe that you weren’t worthy or deserving of being given the bare freaking minimum. Convinced that you were just terrible and lazy, you didn’t realize that you were depressed and barely surviving.
So of course this is hard. It’s not fair that it’s hard nor should it even be hard.
Let me make something very clear: you’re not alone and you’re not a bad mom. You deserve to take care of yourself.
So how do we fix the bucket?
First, you have to ask yourself what you really need to do in order to take care of yourself.
Maybe it’s seeking therapy or counseling. It could be setting a reminder in your phone to brush your teeth every morning and to drink water. Maybe it’s creating a schedule to make sure that laundry gets done and the house stays clean.
You can start small but you’ve got to start fixing the holes in your bucket if you expect the water to stay. If you want to pour into your kids, into the people that need you, you have to start taking care of yourself.
Taking care of yourself is like repairing your bucket with waterproof duct tape. You’re slowly plugging the holes. That’s what taking care of yourself does. Over time, you’re going to notice when the water is leaking and you’ll know you need to do a gut check.
Do I have any holes in my bucket? When’s the last time I showered or ate? When is the last time I took time to enjoy myself?
Asking yourself these questions brings up a ton of awareness because you see exactly where you need to improve. You’ll notice that you haven’t taken a shower lately or that your room is a mess.
Personally, I know that there are holes in my bucket when my room starts to become a mess. When I start down that depression spiral it manifests in my physical space first. So when I catch myself stacking dishes and avoiding taking things to the garbage, I need to take a step back. There’s a whole in my bucket.
Begin to pay attention to your own bucket: where are the holes showing up? What do they look like? What are the signs that there’s a hole in your bucket?
You want to always be working towards fixing those holes.
I’m not saying that this is going to make you perfect. There will always be seasons and ebbs and flows. You’re going to have your bucket fully repaired and then life will happen. A big gash shows up in the side and holes will show up faster than you can repair them.
That’s ok. You’re not trying to be perfect, you’re becoming aware. Once you have the awareness you know what to look for. If you expect to heal from the abuse you went through, if you expect to be a good mom, you have to understand the awareness piece.
If you have holes in your bucket, self care doesn’t matter. I’m not saying it’s not important, but you have to make sure you have things in the right order. You have to put taking care of yourself, repairing your bucket, first.
If your bucket is empty, you can’t pour into your family, friends, life.
Take the time to fix your bucket. There will be times in your life while you’re working on fixing a hole so big that you need extra self care just to survive. That’s ok.
So now that you know what the difference is, you need to figure out what you need for self care. You know what you need to do to fix your bucket, now it’s time to pour into it.
Self care can be anything that recharges your batteries. It could be face masks and bubble baths, playing the xbox for hours or binging YouTube. I don’t care what you do for self care as long as you do it.
Self care is doing things for you simply because you want to do it. Not because it’s productive or beneficial for anyone else. You absolutely can include your kids in self care. My son and I will sit and watch cooking videos on YouTube for hours. But I picked those videos because I like them.
Once you figure out what self care is for you, put it on the calendar. Do it every day. Whether it’s for 5 minutes or an hour, it doesn’t matter. You just need to be consistent. Self care makes sure that you don’t run on empty and that you’re there when your people need you.
If you’re in a season where you are running on empty, that doesn’t mean you’re broken. It means you’re human. It’s not forever – it’s just for a season. You will get through it because you know how to repair and fill your bucket.
I dive into this even deeper inside of Cycle Breaker. This mini course teaches you how to be the Cycle Breaker in your family, and one of the keys is taking care of yourself.
If you’re ready to finally let go of the generational cycle of trauma and abuse, Cycle Breaker is for you. Don’t wait! Click here for the details!