For the second time in two days, I’ve read that self-help books are full of clichés like: learn to slow down, take care of yourself, eat healthy good food, get regular sleep, journaling (this from a book review on a book for young women to help them get beyond high heels and shopping). Hello! When did rigorous discipline and self-love become cliché? That makes it sound so easy, like anyone can do it with their eyes closed.
Actually, it’s one of the hardest things in the world to accomplish, until you decide it’s a priority – to get the right dose of balance in your overly busy life, to make sure the things you spend the most time on are the things that really matter, to carve out some down time to take care of your bruised soul in this wearying roller coaster existence of 24-7 productivity and busyness. The goal being to not just survive but thrive. To have a happy healthy whole attitude towards life – every day I commit to taking better care of my inner Self in a world that honours only the success of my outer Self, i.e. the number of techno gadgets I am attached to, the number of fabulous exotic trips I take a year, the shape and colour of my wardrobe, the size of my purse....is a commitment not to something cliché but rather to being a more real human being.
So forgive me if you’ve heard this before, but I need to be reminded continuously that self-care is not selfish. I need to be reminded that focusing on what feeds me, and surrounding myself with like-minded folks who encourage that quest for balance in me, is where I start to feel human. The overstressed, yelling-all-the-time person who constantly criticizes herself (and others) for being too lazy, too self-indulgent and too slow is so yesterday. I do not want to live under the shadow of my inner critic, whose bark and bite are sneakily nasty. I have over identified with that little voice for far too long. I finally feel I deserve some self-love, just like I deserve a soothing massage when I am too wound up, and alone time to write in my journal and better understand myself. I now know that when I am kind to myself it helps me be kind to others, and the world is a much better place when we are feeling kind. Yes, I am flawed, I'm not there all the time, but it is a fabulous goal to work on.
If that is cliché, well it’s one that hasn’t been used enough by the world in general to become cliché really (at least, not overused yet). When kindness, compassion and love are the norm, maybe then we can say it’s a cliché.
So take that, Book Reviewers of the world. The Tao of Turning Fifty is coming out in a few days, the end of January I hope, once I approve the final proof. And it will be full of clues, tools, and tips for self-care. Touché, cliché.