Self-care in September Week 2: Self-caring thoughts
On Instagram a few of you have noticed – and commented on – that it is here in Week 2 the challenge part in the #selfcare_in_september challenge begins.
Last week (in Week 1) we eeeeeeeased into self-care by putting into words why we need more self-care and by focusing on how we can start and end each day in a self-caring way (our miracle morning and miracle evening). We also finished Week 1 strong by listing 10 things we are proud of; The “I am proud of myself because…”-list. It’s time to pat yourself on the back. And remind yourself: You got this!
Here is Helen Colebrook's interpretation of Week 1 from her beautiful Bullet Journal:
If you only do one week from this challenge; let it be Week 2
The best way you can take care of yourself is from within. If you only practice one thing from this challenge; please let it be cognitive self-care – or as I call it: self-caring thoughts.
Many of the circumstances in our life are beyond our control. But one thing we always can control is how we respond to our circumstances. A common example is this: You can’t choose your boss’ mood Monday morning, but if he is in a bad mood, you can choose to not let this affect your mood. This is called being proactive. And it is by far the one thing I have been practicing the most through the last couple of years.
When I was at the height of my stress-collapse I found myself in a situation where I couldn’t change any of the circumstances around me. And at my very darkest I realized, deep within my soul, that the only thing I could control was the way I responded to my circumstances. For a control-freak like me – that would prefer to have everything within my control; this was quite terrifying. But as I grew to accept this realization it became liberating. I didn’t have to stress about controlling everything. I practiced my cognitive self-care every single day, many times a day. And eventually I evolved into being a more proactive person. This is by far my biggest achievement within personal-development. It’s all about choices.
Week 2 is about being proactive towards your circumstances by practicing self-caring thoughts. By being grounded in yourself in a self-caring way, you’ll be better suited to respond to your circumstances in a way which benefits you. Rather than reacting as if you didn’t have a choice in the matter and going with a reaction that might not serve you – or others – well. As we work through Week 2, know that a self-caring thought-system is one of the biggest gifts you can ever give yourself.
Now! Let’s get cracking and have a look at the prompts! Go team self-care!!
Monday September 5th
“Today I am making a list including 10+ of my talents, strengths, qualities etc.” This will get the cognitive self-caring ball rolling. You can add anything to the list which you interpret as one of your qualities. Examples: I am kind, strong, good at making pancakes, a good mom, loving wife, independent, intelligent, creative, make a mean margarita – whatever. Your list, your entries!
Now to the second part of the exercise: “During September I’ll add to this list until I reach 50 beautiful things about myself.” When I made my list I stalled at 27, and that’s okay! Part of the exercise is training our daily focus so we focus more and more on what we appreciate about ourselves. I’ll be searching for the remaining 23 qualities – thereby focusing daily on what I perceive as my positive qualities – rest of the month.
Just like the “Master-list of gratitude” we’ll be making on Saturday, this list of “50 of my qualities” is a list you can go back to if you struggle a bit with self-love, self-esteem or self-care. Let the list remind you of your innate awesomeness. Let it empower you!
Tuesday September 6th
“I am choosing and planning one activity this week that’s just for me. It's going to be something that energizes/recharges/relaxes me.” When you think about what activity to choose, think about an activity you might have been missing. When we find ourselves being busy and taking care of our loved ones around us the first thing we
tend to prioritize less is the activities that matter only to us. There’s just no time for hobbies or outings when life is hectic. But this is a personal belief – not reality. You can make time for a self-caring, recharging and energizing activity, even if it’s only 5 minutes.
I am going to a café with one of my books for a few hours on Friday. Can’t wait! And I know that I will be more energized for the weekend with my kids when I have taken some me-time right before. What benefits me, benefits them.
Wednesday September 7th
This is a VERY important prompt: “Today I choose 3 affirmations that build me up in a self-caring, empowering, loving, forgiving and defending way.” If you don’t have any experience in creating affirmations – or don’t know how they can actually work wonders – I would recommend “10 steps to create powerful affirmations” by Mary Hyatt. It is
a step by step guide with great examples – and I love her motto: “Change your thinking = Change your life”.
Little note: When it comes to choosing an affirmation between several possibilities; choose the one that you feel the most resistance towards, the one that is the farthest away from where you are now, but the closest to where you wish to be. Choosing the affirmation that feels like “a lie” when you say it, will give you the greatest results.
I have added something essential to the prompt: “These will be my new mantras.” Because you have to work your affirmations before they work for you. An often-used technique is repeating them over and over (preferably out loud, and while you look at yourself in the mirror) when brushing your teeth, putting on make-up, shaving, showering, driving, running or walking the dog. Two minutes 2-3 times a day is great. The more you repeat them, the more your subconscious mind will believe in them. You will feel less resistance towards the statement because it is gradually becoming reality. Therefore, your affirmation will also feel less and less like a lie: It is becoming your new personal truth. How amazing is that?
Think of working with affirmations like a form of positive brainwashing. If you have been brainwashing yourself with negative self-thoughts throughout your life, then it’s definitely time to do the opposite! And thinking of it as brainwashing gives you an idea of how to go about making affirmations into reality.
Thursday September 8th
This goes hand in hand with the prompt for Wednesday: “Today I am listing the 5 worst things I tell myself on a regular basis. After that, I will transform these negative thoughts into their good-twin version. From now on I’ll actively replace a bad thought with its self-caring/defending twin.” An example many mothers, that struggle with getting through some days, can relate to: I am a bad mom. Telling yourself this is toxic! Toxic for the mind, heart, body and soul. The good twin could be: I love my children and I am doing my best. Another example: Why didn’t I work harder today? What’s wrong with me? Turns into: I did my best, I was extremely tired.
This exercise is based on a cognitive technique called “Silencing the Inner Critic.” Many of us are our own worst enemies. We judge and criticize ourselves much harder than we would anyone else. Some of us would never consider saying what we say to ourselves to someone else! It’s would be too rude and unkind. Imagine saying some of your most hurtful, toxic judgements or critiques to your best friend? Not going to happen, right?
Then why do we say it to ourselves? Why don’t we deserve the same kindness and understanding when we “fail” or struggle or make mistakes?
The thing is: We do! Don’t doubt that for a second. And as with many of the other prompts in this challenge it boils down to actively choosing to silence your inner critic. From now on; choose to be your own inner defender and use the positive brainwashing technique. It helps to imagine an inner courtroom: Always, always, advocate your own case, your side, your version – because you are doing your best. Period. You are worthy of an inner knight in shining armor, and only you can be that for yourself.
Friday September 9th
Treat yourself. You are doing your best!
So: “I am having one of my favorite meals this weekend – drinks, starters, main, and dessert. It’s going to be…”
I don’t know what I am having for dinner, but I am so including cosmopolitans and brownies!
This sentence is so important: “Because I’m doing my best each and every day!” I have talked with many, many people dealing with stress, anxiety and/or depression over the last couple of years. Even though they struggle to get through the day, and may not feel like they are doing as well as they should be, not one – not one – wasn’t doing the very best they could in that particular situation under those given circumstances. It is so important to give yourself credit for work well done. Even if you feel like you failed, you tried. And that deserves credit.
So go have your treat. You deserve it for “just” being you.
Saturday September 10th
This one I am looking forward to in a big way! I love exercising gratitude. It is so rewarding for the mind, body, heart and soul. So here goes: “I’m taking some quality time for myself today to make a master-list of gratitude. I’ll sit down, ground myself, take some deep breaths and a make a list which I can read through whenever I need a
reminder of how blessed I truly am.”
When you sit down look around, feel in your heart, listen to your mind and soul. What are they telling you regarding what you can be grateful for? I have made these spreads many times, and it’s always a rewarding, empowering and life-loving experience.
If you are finding it difficult to find things to be grateful for; go back to basics. Running water, food in your stomach, roof over your head, being alive, a friend, your kids, pets, a good book or movie…
Let the gratitude flow through your pen. The strength of gratitude is that it makes what you have enough. If you need inspiration or information about gratitude you can browse through my Pinterest-board “Gratitude is the best attitude”.
Sunday September 11th
Week 2 almost done. Good for you! If you haven’t done all the prompts, put a pin in them and move on. They aren’t going anywhere. Do them when you have time. Whatever you did you did great, and you get an A for effort!
Like in Week 1 I would like us to finish off strong. So today: “I am finishing this week strong by putting into words: 5 things I have learned this week and 5 things I did well”.
As a wrote above: “Even if you feel like you failed, you tried. And that deserves credit.” I would like to add to this: You never fail, you learn! In my Weekly Diary spread I have a “What I learned” box. I have added this in order to help me focus on the fact that I don’t fail. I learn. This has helped me to sustain my self-caring thoughts even when I “fail” but putting a positive spin on “failure” by categorizing them as lessons instead. This is a corner-stone in my cognitive self-care, and it can be in yours too.
That’s week 2! Now go take care of yourself!
I am SO very impressed by the work all of you are doing. You are all moving mountains; one pebble at a time. Let the self-care flow!
You are more than welcome to download the free "Week 2: Self-caring thoughts" here.