“Nurturing yourself is not selfish – it’s essential to your survival and well-being.” Renee Peterson Trudeau
Most of us don’t spend time nurturing ourselves because we feel guilty – like we’re taking time away from doing something “important”. The reason we feel guilty is that our definition of nurturing is mistakenly intertwined with our definition of indulgence; we use the terms nurturing and indulgence interchangeably as a way we describe anything we do for ourselves. From running a bath, watching a movie or getting a massage, we might believe that any of those things could be defined as either an indulgence or self-nurturing. But, they really aren’t the same. More often than not, when we spend time on ourselves, it is an indulgence – something we spend time doing that feels good. We never really question whether that indulgence is, at the same time, actually nurturing. When we nurture ourselves, we’re feeding our soul. We remain conscious, present in the moment and are engaged with an activity or person in such a way that we can feel ourselves being fueled on the inside. Because so many of us are disconnected from our own needs, even those of us that are comfortable spending time on ourselves may not really be nurturing ourselves in a way that supports our well-being and growth. Nurturing, unlike indulging, requires consciously taking time to decide how and who we will surround ourselves with. Sometimes what we define as nurturing, is nothing more than an effort to numb or deny our circumstances – we think that by engaging in the indulgence we can escape from our life. Nurturing, instead, invites us to connect with our emotions and sustain ourselves in profound new ways. Nurturing action is expansive and allows no room for guilt because we know, deep down, that we need this to live. Now, that is not to say that a simple activity can’t be nurturing – it can. It’s just that we have to be clear that simple indulgences are not enough. We need also to take the time to really nurture ourselves in order to be truly happy.
Weekly Path to Peace: Nurture yourself.
- Do you nurture or simply indulge? This week write out all the things that you do for yourself. Write out all the activities or people you spend time with, without judgment. This exercise is not to make our indulgences wrong (because indulgences too are necessary). It is simply to get an idea of what kinds of things you are currently doing for yourself.
- Identify one activity this week (or one person to spend time with) that will allow you to nurture yourself and do it. It doesn’t have to be complicated, it just has to be something you know will fuel your soul and passion. Write about how it felt to engage in that activity at the end of the week and how you can incorporate more nurturing activities or people into your life.
As you begin this week, rate your level of happiness, self-esteem and self-confidence on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being not satisfied and 10 being very satisfied. Notice where you are Sunday evening after you do this week’s peace practice to see if there is a change.