I am with Bill on a business trip to Southern California, spending the day working in the hotel while he attends a Board meeting. I didn’t want to be in the room all day so I’m sitting in the coffee shop working away (bonus: tea on demand!)
Anyhow, I am in search of the ladies room when I encounter a small group of people standing at the hostess stand waiting to be seated. The hostess is nowhere in sight. I overhear one say, “We’ll just seat ourselves.” I hesitate for a second and very nearly turn around to go in search of the hostess. Then I have to stop myself from offering them my advice on what they should do.
What is that? Why do I think I have to fix any problem I encounter, even when it has nothing to do with me?
Do you suffer from this? Could it be one of the reasons we are desperate to find ways to take better care of ourselves? It’s one thing to give of yourself to people you love or you’re paid to care for but if you think the whole world is your responsibility, life becomes exhausting.
A key to Passionate Self Care is (said gently) mind your own business. I want this to be a gentle admonition because I KNOW that you don’t do it to be a busy body or what we used to, as kids, call a “buttinski.” You likely do it because you are so service-oriented that you want to serve the world. But, when I examine my own motives, I notice that there’s a good deal of ego in there. I have to admit that there’s a part of me that secretly believes I know best and that, if everyone just followed my good advice their lives would work much better.
Sometimes, when I indulge my buttinski people seem stunned, as well they should.
This happens when they don’t even know me and I suddenly insert myself into their lives by offering some unsolicited solution. The most useful pearl of wisdom I ever heard about this came from my friend Esther Hicks who says, “An answer to a question no one asked is a wasted answer.” It’s wasted because whomever you’re advising is not listening. Mostly they wish you’d just stop talking and let them get back to solving their own problem.
Imagine; just imagine how much extra time you’d have to take care of yourself if you simply minded your own business. And I don’t mean only with strangers. If you’re like me, you’re spending way too much time solving the problems of your mate, your children, and your second cousin’s stepson’s daughter. We have a tendency to think we should insert ourselves into our family’s problems but take it from me they don’t like it any more than strangers do. They only put up with it because it’s easier than fighting. They say, “OK,” or “Yes, dear,” hoping you’ll just stop.
You might protest, “But what if they do it wrong?” They will! So what? I’m guessing that the most powerful lessons you’ve ever learned came from painful mistakes. Why deprive them of this same learning?
If that’s not enough to inspire you to MYOB let me add one last insight. I try REALLY hard not to answer the question when my kids ask, “What should I do?” Because if they follow my advice and it doesn’t work, who do you think they’ll blame? Instead I try to remember to say, “You’ll figure it out, honey.” I’m there to help if they fall but preventing the fall? Once they’re past childhood, that’s not my job.
MYOB—try it. Your friends and family will send prayers of thanks to the heavens and you’ll have more time for you.
In my last posting I talked about rituals as keys to Passionate Self Care. I mostly focused on big rituals like developing your action plan for the day or week. I made the observation that in a world where change is constant, rituals are a way for us to feel as if we are in control.
Since then, I’ve been thinking about how incredibly busy we are. Some of these big rituals are wonderful in theory but daunting in terms of fitting them into an already jam-packed life. So how can we enjoy the benefits of rituals without feeling as if each is just one more thing to do?
Let’s talk about small rituals. These are the ones we can incorporate into what we already do, turning ordinary events into moments of pure bliss. Here are a few examples:
Ever since age nine when my British Aunt Jeanne taught me how to brew and pour tea, I have loved my first cup each morning. She served me a very watered-down version of what she herself was drinking but today I brew for the maximum impact. This morning it occurred to me that I’m not taking full advantage of this wonderful daily occurrence. Instead of the usual—taking a slug of tea while hurriedly preparing my breakfast, I stopped, stood still, closed my eyes and fully savored that first sip of tea. It was so heavenly I did the same for sips two and three. What an easy way to practice passionate self-care.
Showers or baths. I have no idea who invented these two marvels but, in my opinion, there should be a statue erected in his/her honor in every town square in the world. Who doesn’t love this indulgence? You spend the same amount of time whether you unconsciously bathe or consciously enjoy every second. Think about the temperature of the water on your skin, the way the soap feels and smells, and the pure luxury. Another simple way to practice passionate self-care.
Getting into bed. When we were children, it seemed like a punishment. Have you noticed how much you look forward to it now that you’re an adult? And yet, do we truly bask in the feeling of getting into bed? Another everyday occurrence that, when practiced consciously can bring great pleasure and a feeling of being very well taken care of. How about stretching when you get under the covers? Heave a great big sigh of pleasure. Moan if that feels good but however you do it, take the time to bask in the sweet feeling of laying your head on your pillow and drifting off to sleep.
What do these things have in common? Being awake to each gift that comes your way. There are so many lovely things in our lives and yet we become pretty blasé’ about most of them. What if passionate self-care were as simple as noticing each simple pleasure?
Maybe it is.
Write and let me know what your simple pleasures are. I’d love to read about them!