I’ve written many posts about how the past two years or so have been rough for practically every human being on the planet. I have told myself and others to give themselves grace, to take it easy on themselves, and to not expect too much. In hard seasons, that’s what we need to do: extend grace and practice self-care. But what if I told you that facing hard truths is also a form of self-care?
Hear me out: I’m not saying to stop extending yourself and others grace and I’m definitely not suggesting that you start talking down to yourself about how you haven’t been working hard. What I’m saying is: many times the line between self-care and self-destruction is very thin.
I’ll use myself as an example. The past two years I have wanted to lose weight. Not only to look better but to feel better as well. I kept telling myself: “This cheesecake is a form of self-care because I’m having a hard enough time putting one foot in front of the other” or “Me sleeping in day after day instead of getting up to go for a walk or read my Bible is better for me because I need that extra sleep.”
What I thought was self-care was actually self-sabotage. I was literally feeding my bad habits under the guise of “giving myself grace”. For two years I was letting food, naps, and zoning out in front of the TV be my escape because I didn’t want to face the world around me. I didn’t want to acknowledge that the reason I was so tired all the time was because I was eating fast food 5 times a week. I didn’t want to tell myself the hard truth that the reason I was so achy and stiff was because my body had done little else than sit on the couch. And I sure as heck didn’t want to admit that the communication breakdown happening in my marriage was because we’d look at Instagram after the kids went to bed instead of spend time together.
Finally, one day, it clicked: I needed to stop lying to myself and own up to my unhealthy patterns. I decided to be more mindful of my actual needs (e.g., move my body more, put down my phone, engage more with my kids) and not my wants (e.g., three donuts at 9:00 p.m., staying up until all hours watching TikToks, or telling myself I’d “start tomorrow”).
What would happen if, instead of hiding behind bad habits, we took a long look in the mirror and owned up to the changes we needed to make? Before accusing me of saying that I’m a part of “mom-shaming” or that I’m “anti-body positivity”, let me put it another way:
Are you drinking because you want to relax and unwind or so you can numb the pain you’re not facing?
Are you canceling plans because you have other priorities or is it because your anxiety is making it too hard to leave your house?
Are you continuously snacking because you’re hungry or because its easier to eat than it is to face your emotions?
Are you scrolling through social media until 3:00 a.m. because you can’t sleep or are you afraid to put down your phone and talk with your spouse because that would require vulnerability?
Facing hard truths and being honest with yourself can be scary and difficult. True, there are absolutely days when its better for us mentally/physically/emotionally to sleep in or go grab Starbucks instead of cooking at home.
But when we stop and really think about whether or not we’re truly caring for ourselves, we can see the most graceful thing we can do is be honest.