Self-care is a term that popped up like rabbits when I started on a journey gallivanting around my inner world. However, how deep we examine this term changes with time. I used to view it as a reminder to go for my facial and my massage, because that is as much self-care routine I have power over during that period. Then it got a little deeper and it was about finding time to do what I love. That was the period when I felt so liberated fully immersed in oil painting for those pure loving three hours a week. Following that, it was defined more by my dietary needs, and then about getting enough sleep. Sometimes when I get too busy with work, self-care comes to be about getting some timeout for meditation.
In the past one year of Covid, self-care has turned very much inwards beyond the physical / bodily self. I started examining this idea more from the point of view of boundaries. Sometimes, self-care is about setting out clear and healthy boundaries, so that we are not overly sucked into other people’s perspectives, ideas, and expectations of us. I used to mistake that for self-indulgence, but it stemmed from my own judgments that (some) people are so fixated on their own points of views they do not heed or listen to other people’s kind advice.
My latest epiphany about self-care is drawing up boundaries to keep certain extraneous people and conversations at bay. It is not always self-indulgent. “Kind advice” does not justify a person overstepping into your personal space to throw their two-cents worth of their own fears and failures. It may be out of kindness but it is not useful and definitely unhelpful (unless I ask for them). There are times when there is just too much to consider and to handle, and you have to know that it is okay to say, “No, thank you, I can only deal with myself at the moment”. People are not you, they do not know the ins and outs and nuts and bolts of what is going on in your life. And you do not have to tell them. There are times when people do not know their place, I suppose it is a matter of letting people know their place and their lines. Yet too, there are daft people out there who cannot get hints, no matter how politely you try to tell them the “no, thank you” in subtle or in obvious terms. I suppose that is also why there are people you let into your inner circle and certainly those that you have to keep them very much at arm’s length (or maybe a very very very long metal ruler length).
I am very very thankful that the people in my life are adult enough to understand boundaries, so crystal clear on these thin lines that I feel immersed in their care and concern, yet so comfortable in how they check in on me and giving me the space as to how much I want to tell them. I wouldn’t say my friends are very sensitive people but I would say they are just very sensible and considerate. Maybe subconscious energetic fields really set out a certain vibration of what kind of dynamics harmonises and can enter one’s space, while others that do not match just has to find some other magnetic field that they can sync to. And maybe too, I am born into a very indulgent family where boundaries and permission matter, and these reverberations are so strong they hold the space!
Even with the double-Os, we ask them for permission before we help them. You will always hear me frowning and asking them, “can yiyi help you?” If they say no, then it is a plain and simple No, no matter how much we desire to sort out that very easy problem they are facing. We just leave them to figure it out themselves. If and when they realise they need our help, they come to us, and then we help them. Maybe we also grew to be big on boundaries, because we had to draw them expressly in our family, because we are all big on our own lines, but we may not understand the others’.
So there. To be in a healthy mental state, we need healthy boundaries. Know your worth, know your Self. Sometimes we really our own personal space, free of other humans’ projections.