Make Sure You Stay for You

Is your self-care for self or others? Read on to learn why this concept is so important.
A huge thing I’ve learned about self-care/self-love is that many times you’ll know you “need” to do something for your well-being, and maybe you’ve even done it before—but you haven’t been consistent. And maybe you weren’t consistent because you didn’t really like the “doing” part of it but you liked how you felt afterward, but the after part didn’t outweigh your dread of doing it. Or maybe you have other reasons for avoiding your self-care.
Whatever the reason it’s not getting done, I know this for sure: Many times, consistency in self-care comes from finally admitting and accepting why you would be better off doing that thing or those things for you regularly or daily, or however often it needs to happen. Your self-care can’t be for other people or because they (whoever they are) say you have to, should, need to, or better do it. You may start off doing it because you read that it will help you or someone told you to do it (or else!), but if you’re not tapped in to your own spirit and what you need for your peace of mind, at some point you’ll likely fall off your routine, because it’s not really yours. It’s someone else’s that you’ve adopted.
In my youth, I struggled with flossing my teeth. I hated it, so much so that whenever I went to the dentist for cleaning, it was a bloody, painful ordeal. My dentist told me every time that I needed to floss every day, and that my gums and teeth were unhealthy because I wasn’t, and if I didn’t, this would keep happening at every visit. I told him I brushed every day. He told me brushing was not enough. I heard him, but I would always leave and never do it, not consistently. Really, I barely did it at all, because when I did, it not only was uncomfortable to carry out but it was also painful…and bloody…which I thought was some bull. One day at a cleaning, things were really outta control, and my dentist told me straight up that if I didn’t start flossing every day, immediately, I was gonna develop gum disease before long and start losing my teeth.
Inside, I was like, “OH. HOL’UP. You ain’t say all THAT before. LOSING MY TEEEEETH?!” 😳🥺😭
That convo scared the hell outta me. Mommy struggled with tooth loss and gum disease for decades, and I saw her suffering because of it. Because I was terrified of being in that position, I agreed to “try again.” But not before explaining to him that I had tried, and it was always a disaster. He told me I had to KEEP. GOING. He told me my gums were damaged and in order to heal them, I would have to push through those painful, bloody flossing sessions for a while, before I would see results. He promised me that if I would just stick with it, the bleeding would stop and my whole mouth would change…and so would those horrific dental visits.
So I got back on the horse. I pushed through the discomfort of the act of flossing. I pushed through the blood, pain, swollen gums, difficult meals afterward due to the swollen gums, the headaches I would have due to the constant pain my mouth was in from flossing every day. Yes, at the start of it all, I was doing it because my dentist scared me with the truth. However, that’s not why I kept going.
One day, the blood and pain and swollen gums did stop. My gums felt better. My mouth was cleaner. My breath was fresher. My teeth felt better because there wasn’t piles of food and disgusting bacteria and tartar jammed in between them all the time. I was floored! IT WORKED! And I loved the results! The difference in my mouth was unbelievable, so much so that I started wondering why anybody would go through the day without flossing! My dental visits improved more and more, the bleeding stopped for good, and I knew I was in the floss game for the long haul.
I started because I was told to and needed to, but I continued because I not only loved the results, but I was also fully aware of why those results meant so much to me and my well-being. I continued for me , not my dentist. I wanted a healthy mouth. I wanted to keep seeing the results I got every time I flossed. Flossing (in addition to brushing, duh!), gave me results that gave me PEACE OF MIND. Read that again. Flossing gave me PEACE OF MIND. See, you can like [the results of] something but not necessarily get peace of mind from it. When you start tapping in to what gives you PEACE OF MIND, and when peace of mind matters a lot to you, you’ll start to upgrade your self-care.
About five years ago, at a dentist appointment (different dentist, one who wasn’t familiar with my mouth like my childhood dentist was), he told me that I had the best-looking, healthiest gums he had ever seen in his career—and he’d been in business more than 20 years. I thought he was kidding, until he explained very seriously that he was not. He told me about all the people who never floss or rarely do it, whose mouths are a total disaster because of that one thing alone. I told him that used to be me.
I don’t care how tired I am, how much I don’t feel like it, how late it is, or how sick I am, there is no day without flossing (sometimes multiple times a day, depending on what I’ve eaten). NONE. Because it’s part of my PEACE.
I encourage you to take a look at your life and self-care levels, and assess where you could take it up a notch or five. Ask yourself why you “won’t” do XYZ things regularly/daily. Tap in to what really brings you joy and peace. When you finally admit that you like yourself and your life better because of those things, I bet you’ll start pushing through to get those things done. For you.

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