When I think of self-care, I think of a garden that’s under my care. In my mind, it has the potential to become this magical place, but it’s not always rainbows or butterflies to begin with. To grow a lush green garden, we must be willing to get our hands dirty and put in the work. Planting seeds and pulling out weeds won’t be pretty, but real self-care involves paying attention to what’s stunting your growth and developing healthier habits.
There’ll be a lot of blood, sweat and tears when it comes to self-discipline, painful healing and behaviour correcting. But your garden requires regular maintenance and constant growth in order to thrive. If you neglect it, or forget about it for too long, it will wither. Start with these 5 steps to grow real self-care:
- Plant your purpose
We all have our own reasons for wanting to practice self-care. Imagine the best version of yourself and write down what you need to do to become that.
- Prioritise your mental health and happiness
These should be the pride and joy of your garden. Set healthy boundaries to protect your emotional space when it comes to work and personal relationships.
- Focus on growth
Give yourself permission to grow. Commit to practicing real self-care on the daily, and make a conscious effort to maintain your mental health and happiness.
- Address root issues
Dig deep into the root of your problems. When we ignore our issues, we allow ourselves to get stuck in bad habits and negative thought patterns instead of finding a solution.
- Go at your own pace
Don’t compare your progress to anyone else’s. Give yourself all the time and patience needed to grow and blossom.
In order to flourish, you must nurture and support yourself. Start small, take responsibility and reflect honestly. You’ve got this!
If we were to ask someone to take responsibility for their life or actions, they would usually ignore it. Why? Because this statement may seem judgemental, aggressive and insensitive – it may not even make sense to the listener.
Personal responsibility is often an overlooked personality trait that many have yet to achieve. It isn’t something that one decides to do voluntarily, rather, it is something we discover once we acknowledge our own power and realize the impact of our actions.
One of the reasons why accountability is so important is that it shows you know how to take ownership and by doing so, you get to control your outcomes – whether positive or negative.
Here are some simple yet fool-proof methods on how to cultivate accountability and take control of your life!
- Write It Down
No matter how big or small the activity or chore is, writing down your responsibilities is proven to be effective. When you write things down, both parts of your brain are activated – the imaginative right hemisphere and the logic-based left hemisphere. As we now carry our smartphones around like an extended limb, you can even write it down on your Notes app or as a widget you can see every time you look at your phone. There are so many distractions around us that make it is easy for the brain to forget your responsibilities – give it a break and just write it down!
- Set Realistic Goals and Expectations
When you set unrealistic expectations and commitments, it is more likely that you would fall short and fail. This would, in turn, cause you to feel demotivated, give up and feel bad about yourself. Keeping your promises straightforward and realistic is a safer method to ensure you reach your targets and move forward.
- Momentum Is Key
Building momentum is a vital factor in your personal accountability and responsibility journey. Try this: each time you complete a task, attempt a slightly bigger task afterward and move on from there. For example, starting with a small task like drinking a cup of water after you wake up every day to build up confidence. After completing the task, celebrate your ‘win’, and with each win, you’ll be more self-assured and more likely complete the next task. In time, add more habits you’d like to include such as a 5-minute yoga session before you shower, etc. Before you know it, you’ll have habits you thought were impossible at the start of your journey!
Every day is an opportunity to do things a little bit better than you did the day before. Accountability allows us to take ownership and improve our lives – we are then able to be comfortable and take responsibility without shifting the blame.
Although being accountable and taking responsibility might feel overwhelming, it’s interesting how quickly you will discover that ultimately, you are in control. And that is is truly empowering.
Similar to the Yin and Yang, of how two opposites complement each other to make a whole, there is a shadow-side to everything in life – especially in ourselves. Everyone exhibits some form of toxic behaviour. We are only human after all. But what’s important is that we educate ourselves rather than ignore it and continue acting the same away. If you’re ready to be honest and accountable, to be a better version of yourself, we invite you to read on!
What are the common toxic traits?
Some common toxic traits include:
- Being Judgemental
Having standards and not settling for less is one thing, but if you find yourself judging someone because of tiny, minuscule things that don’t define their character – start acknowledging that and actively stopping yourself. Otherwise, it usually implies a hidden or open desire to control or change someone.
When something bad happens to you – are you quick to blame everything around you, including yourself? It’s normal to experience bad days, but when your mind only answers and listens in a negative tone, you won’t be able to appreciate anything in your life.
In a nutshell, to ‘gaslight’ is to invalidate and/or downplay other’s emotions. Gaslighting often occurs when you listen to counter and not listen to understand. Some examples of gaslighting phrases include:
- “Relax, why can’t you just take a joke?”
- “You’re being too sensitive.”
- “You’re crazy to think that!”
- “This is why nobody likes you.”
Using mental tricks for your own personal gain is considered manipulation. Examples of manipulative ways are:
- Guilting someone into doing something for you.
- Exploiting the emotions of others.
- Using the ‘I’m a victim’ card as an excuse.
- Being ignorant of others’ emotions and feelings.
- Disregarding the consequences of their actions.
If any of these sound familiar, it could be time for you to step back and start taking responsibility for your behaviour.
How can I improve?
The first step is to acknowledge your toxic traits and areas of improvement. This could be done by nurturing self-awareness. You can do this by:
- Being brutally honest with yourself.
Recognise and admit to your negative traits.
- Being curious about who you are.
Ask yourself, “What are the qualities I’m putting out there?”, “Why do I do something a certain way?”.
- Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes when in conflict.
Viewing the situation from the other party’s perspective will help you understand them better and manage your emotions. In turn, this will change your actions and lead to a better outcome.
- Reflecting on your emotions and actions.
Review your actions and emotions through journaling or mediation, and reflect to see if you can improve the situation in the future.
When you notice your toxic traits and begin the process of realising how your trauma affects your behaviour, you can start amending and improving your personality. However, if you continue to recycle your pain, the cycles of the same situation will happen again.
Psychologist Dr. Tasha Eurich offers a piece of advice, “Working on your self-awareness will put you ahead of 80 percent of your colleagues. It is the secret ingredient. Don’t put pressure on yourself to do it quickly – be open to what people tell you so that you can make a significant improvement.”
Start becoming aware of your own toxic traits, even if they’re ingrained in niceness. It’ll move you a step closer towards self-acceptance and self-love!