When we think of taking care of ourselves, what comes to mind?
Pumping up at the gym?
Ordering the grilled chicken salad at lunch over a cheeseburger?
Jogging every morning at the crack of dawn?
Bubble baths and manicures?
The importance of self-care can’t be understated. Staying healthy, hydrated, and relaxed are all critical for your wellbeing. But there are some other aspects of self-care and nourishment that are even more critical to your long-term happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction.
Here’s how to adjust your view to prioritize self-care today!
Bubble baths, exercise, and even the occasional treat are essential for self-care. We should all take an active interest in our physical health. But a crucial component that’s often overlooked is keeping our minds nourished.
We need to work on our heads and hearts before we stress out about the size of our ass or the flatness of our abs.
Here’s a secret: if our head and our heart are healthy and aligned, the rest of our physical health will follow. Now that’s not to say we should hang up our running shoes and reach for the box of Oreos. But when we’re in the right emotional state within, we’ll also start to prioritize care for our external state as well.
When we’re engaged in life, growing, learning, and discovering new things about ourselves, we’re showing significant self-care and self-compassion. We’re prioritizing our needs and showing love for ourselves, caring about what we need and want. When we experience this shift, we naturally start to nurture our physical selves as well.
Nurture goes beyond eating healthy or resting. What happens when we nurture ourselves and realize the importance of self-care? Just like a mother nurtures a child, we start to think of ourselves more kindly and compassionately. We recognize that we’re a work-in-progress and that mistakes are part of the journey. We realize that we’re moving toward spiritual and emotional growth and fulfillment.
Better still, when we start to have compassion for ourselves, we look at how we’re spending our time and stop zoning out with soft addictions and time wasters. We instead find ways to fill our time with activities that help us grow and move us toward the life we want. We start to love ourselves and discover the importance of self-care and compassion.
Suddenly the hole we might be trying to fill inside ourselves is gone. We don’t reach for the extra fries. We don’t order the milkshake. We don’t view our 5 AM spin class as a way to punish ourselves into the person we wish we could be. We stop eating our feelings, drinking to escape, or burying ourselves in our work.
We can work ourselves into a sweat at the gym. We can set fitness goals and train for years, but if we aren’t working on the stuff underneath—the real stuff—we will never find true health and happiness.
Sometimes we meet a person who just has “it.” We meet them and go, “Wow! They’re magnetic!” They stand out and get noticed—maybe they’re in terrific shape, and you can tell they really take care of themselves, but you aren’t noticing only their physique. Or perhaps they hold themselves with grace; they’re dynamic and fabulous. As the French say, it’s that je ne sais quoi (literally that “I don’t know what”).
What we notice in these “it people” isn’t stunning beauty. In fact, they might not even be the best-looking person in the room or even conventionally attractive. Instead, what we notice in these magnetic people is their level of engagement. People who stand apart from the crowd, light up a room and attract others do it because they’re fully engaged. They’re turned on and tuned in. People are interesting because they’re interested in their world.
Here’s the deal with confidence—confidence is overrated. It’s an illusion, and in many ways, It’s bullsh*t. Most people have learned to fake it until they make it. We project confidence onto someone because they appear to have stronger self-esteem or be more competent than we are. They seem to exude a quality we don’t see in ourselves.
Confidence is a trick brought on by preparedness and ease in a situation. People who appear truly confident (not ego-centric, but self-assured) are rarely that way naturally. More often, they’re prepared. They’ve invested in themselves and understand the importance of self-care. They’re polished and together. They accept their role in the situation, and they’re ready to do their best. If you want confidence in a meeting or on a date, it’s as simple as preparing beforehand. Know what you’re doing before you walk into the room. It’s that simple.
Whether it’s a job interview, a board room, or our social lives, if we want to be engaging and interesting, we must be engaged with and interested in others. Not because we’re hoping for reciprocity or because we have an agenda, but simply because we are actually and truly interested. We must aim toward authentic, genuine interactions.
So many of us go into interactions with a false self, as Nietzsche discusses. We, we have a false consciousness and sense of morality. We are all frauds. We’re protecting our false selves because we are all self-motivated. We’re wandering around interacting with others and giving in a way that may appear unselfish. We may even honestly buy into our BS, believing that we surely are unselfish.
The self-motivation isn’t “bad.” As humans, we’re trying to get those around us to fill the gaps in our needs and yearnings. We may think that we’re acting unselfishly, benevolently, and kindly. But we also want others to like us. We want others to help us be listened to, respected, acknowledged, and loved. We think we can scratch their back, and they’ll scratch ours. If I appear to listen to you, you’ll listen back.
The problem is if I haven’t taken responsibility for my needs at some level—If I’m not genuinely present with my needs, then who the heck am I to think I can authentically engage with you in meeting both our needs?! That isn’t genuine, authentic engagement.
Step one in your transformation to a life of deeper fulfillment is to learn how to express your deeper wants—your yearnings. We talk a lot about needs, wants, and yearnings, but they’re certainly not interchangeable.
There’s something vaguely old-fashioned about the term. It has an Old Testament ring to it. Or it sounds like what a heroine in a Victorian novel might say as she stares out the window of her gothic tower, waiting for a lost love to return. As a result, you probably haven’t used “yearn” in a sentence recently. It feels awkward on your tongue, uncertain in your mind…and hardly the dynamic power and fuel of transformation.
When we talk of transformation, we are not talking about a formula but rather about something deeply personal that emerges from within—a unique, new you. Take a moment to reflect upon what you yearn for. Let your mind go blank and listen to your heart. Imagine if your soul had a voice and could articulate what it wants most in the world. Or, more simply, consider what you desire deeply, what would turn your good life into a great one.
Still nothing? That’s okay. Yearning is a natural capacity you can develop.
Or maybe you’ve come up with a list of things you yearn for that are actually wants—you “yearn” to be rich, you “yearn” to travel around the world, you “yearn” for freedom, you “yearn” to have your boyfriend or girlfriend agree to marry you, you “yearn” for a gigantic television. It’s okay, too, to mistake wants for yearnings—we all do it, but it rarely leads to transformation.
The good news is that we know what you yearn for—and it’s exactly that yearning that generates transformation. The things you yearn for are the same things that everyone in the world yearns for. Specifically, we yearn:
To love and be loved
To be seen
To achieve mastery
To be affirmed
To connect with a higher power.
Our yearnings are universal—all humans have them. We can identify them within ourselves and get in touch with them. Once we recognize them and understand them, we are opening ourselves up to much greater possibilities.
When we uncover and discover our yearnings, we shift the importance of self-care to focus on getting those yearnings met. Once our yearnings are identified, we can orient ourselves towards activities that fulfill us. We can open ourselves up to deeper interactions and adventures. We start to see our interactions with others not as a step to blindly fulfill our wants and needs but as ways to share emotions to meet yearnings and discover enriching, deeper connections.
When we start to practice the kind of self-care and self-compassion that we deserve—the kind that meets these deeper yearnings, the other needs fall away. Suddenly we’re not looking for timewasters to fulfill the void. We’re not trying to buy a faster car or fit into our skinny jeans, so someone notices us. Instead, we’re nourishing and valuing our beautiful selves because we recognize that we’re worthy and important.
It’s exciting when we realize how close many of us are to starting our transformation. The desires to love ourselves, live a life with purpose, and reach our full potential are very strong for many of us. It drives us, but we allow doubts to creep in.
We tell ourselves we don’t deserve fulfillment. We believe lies about ourselves we’ve been told for years—perhaps even since we were kids. We take the familiar route, not because it’s easy, but because we’re afraid to take the emotional plunge.
It’s time to stop being afraid. Living a life with purpose will bring you the fulfillment you desire. Finding your reasons, finding love for yourself—a caring and ability to nurture yourself—is powerful, tangible, visceral. It will give you that certain “something” when you walk into a room. It will make you far more attractive, “confident,” and interesting than hours at the gym or trips to the spa could give you.
If you’re ready to learn more ways to start living a life filled with purpose and satisfaction, please explore our courses on Wright Now. We have an array of excellent classes to help you boost your career, strengthen your relationships, and get MORE of the life you want.
The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.