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Why self-care isn't selfish

Why self-care isn't selfish | Cultural Trendz |

 I was at an event in San Francisco a few years ago and had the privilege of spending some time with Louise Hay, founder of Hay House and best-selling author of You Can Heal Your Life. Louise is someone I’ve admired for a long time — she’s a true pioneer in the world of personal development. It was an honor for me to connect with her at this event.

On the final day of the conference, I asked Louise if she was planning to fly home (back to San Diego, just an hour’s flight from San Francisco) that evening. She said, “Oh no, Mike, I would never do that to myself.” Her response, while simple, floored me. I thought, Wow, what a great example of honoring and caring for yourself. Then I thought, I could use more of that.

At that time, I was feeling run down, exhausted, and overwhelmed by my life. Our girls were four and one, I was traveling quite a bit, and I felt like I couldn’t keep up with everything. My schedule was packed with so many activities, I felt like it was hard for me to breathe, much less enjoy what I was doing. I also felt like a victim of my “crazy” schedule and life, which gave me a built-in excuse for not showing up for others or taking full responsibility for my actions (i.e., “What do you want from me? Do you have any idea how much I have going on right now?”).

Around this same time, I was reading a wonderful book called The Art of Extreme Self-Care, by Cheryl Richardson. In this book, Cheryl challenges us to make our self-care a top priority. I loved the book, and while the concepts were fairly simple, familiar, and straightforward, I felt a great deal of resistance as I started to practice some of what Cheryl was saying.

Unfortunately, a lot of us think of self-care as selfish or as something we should do when we get everything else done. I would find myself thinking, Once I take care of all the important people and things in my life, then I’ll take care of myself. In addition to this, I also think we can sometimes be motivated to take care of ourselves out of fear or guilt: I should eat better. I should exercise more. I’m not taking good care of myself and if I keep this up I’m going to gain weight, get sick, or something really bad is going to happen to me. These types of negative, critical thoughts often roll around in our brains, and often are the impetus or motivation for us to “take care of ourselves.”

Authentic self-care is not selfish, and it’s not a guarantee that we won’t gain weight or get sick — although taking care of ourselves would probably make those things less likely. True self-care is about honoring ourselves, caring for ourselves, nurturing ourselves, and loving ourselves — both for our own benefit and for the benefit of everyone around us.

I saw Dr. Andrew Weil on Larry King Live a number of years ago. Dr. Weil, who has been a leader in the field of alternative medicine for decades, was talking to Larry about the importance of self-care. He mentioned that there is a great model for this in the human body — the heart. Dr. Weil said, “Each time the heart beats, it first pumps blood to itself, then to the rest of the body. It has to work this way in order for us to stay alive.” He continued, “The same is true for us as human beings. We have to take care of ourselves first, so we can take care of others.”

Self-care is fundamental to not only our personal well-being but also to our relationships with the people closest to us. It empowers us to be more available and generous with the people around us in an authentic way, while modeling to them how we want to be treated. As Michael Bernard Beckwith says, “The Golden Rule is ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ The Platinum Rule is ‘How I treat myself is training others how to treat me.’”

Taking care of ourselves takes courage, commitment, and willingness. Given the nature of our busy lives, it’s not so easy, logistically or emotionally, for us to make and keep our self-care commitments. It’s not about doing it “right” or “perfectly,” or even about following some detailed plan to a tee. It’s simply about remembering that we deserve to take care of ourselves, and when we do, it not only nourishes us but also allows us to be available for important things and people in our lives.

Ivon Prefontaine's curator insight, May 6, 6:35 PM

When we take good care of our self, we extend ourselves to others we come in contact with. We are healthier and our relationships can be healthier.

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What is SEL?

What is SEL? | Cultural Trendz |

Social and emotional learning involves the processes of developing social and emotional competencies in children. SEL programming is based on the understanding that the best learning emerges in the context of supportive relationships that make learning challenging, engaging, and meaningful; social and emotional skills are critical to being a good student, citizen, and worker; and many different risky behaviors (e.g., drug use, violence, bullying, and dropout) can be prevented or reduced when multi-year, integrated efforts develop students’ social and emotional skills.

This is best done through effective classroom instruction, student engagement in positive activities in and out of the classroom, and broad parent and community involvement in program planning, implementation, and evaluation (Bond & Hauf, 2004; Hawkins, Smith, & Catalano, 2004; Nation et al., 2003; Weare & Nind, 2011). Effective SEL programming begins in preschool and continues through high school. CASEL has identified five interrelated sets of cognitive, affective, and behavioral competencies.

The definitions of the five competency clusters for students are:

* Self-awareness: The ability to accurately recognize one’s emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior. This includes accurately assessing one’s strengths and limitations and possessing a well-grounded sense of confidence and optimism.

* Self-management: The ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations. This includes managing stress, controlling impulses, motivating oneself, and setting and working toward achieving personal and academic goals.

* Social awareness: The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures, to understand social and ethical norms for behavior, and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.

* Relationship skills: The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. This includes communicating clearly, listening actively, cooperating, resisting inappropriate social pressure, negotiating conflict constructively, and seeking and offering help when needed.
* Responsible decision-making: The ability to make constructive and respectful choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, social norms, the realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and the well-being of self and others.

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

Excellent piece on developing emotional intelligence in children.

Ivon Prefontaine's curator insight, July 18, 2013 11:20 AM

This is a good infographic with some detailed explanation.

Tamra Dollar's curator insight, July 19, 2013 4:53 PM

To be an effective teacher, we must embrace social and emotional learning. If we don't, we might as well be replaced by a piece of computer software!