I refer to self-care as a practice a lot. What I mean by this is that it is not finite. It doesn’t really end. We simply refine it over time. We hone it.
I could also call it a dance or an experiment.
Really, self-care is all of those things.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about self-care as detective work.
Except, rather than trying to solve a case, we are sleuthing around our own healing.
We collect evidence. We interview witnesses. Out of endless data and what may, at times, feel like chaos, we work to make sense of things.
Like detectives, we ignore nothing. There is no piece of information too trivial. Eventually, patterns emerge. Sometimes, we hit dead ends. Other times, we discover an uncomfortable truth.
Self-care is really the act of becoming more and more familiar with ourselves.
Like detectives, we ask the tough questions. We examine every angle. We pursue our quest for justice and healing relentlessly.
Which means that self-care isn’t all sunshine, all the time. It means tracking it into the shadows, into dark alleyways.
The aim is not always to feel good but to come face to face with our being.
This takes courageous detective work. Not to find the easy answers, but to reveal the truth: of what it means to be ourselves, of what it means to be human, of what healing and self-care look like for each of us.
This detective work is specific: it’s never about generalities, but instead the tiny details and idiosynchrasies of our particular case. Self-care is just this: becoming fascinated in examining our lives and selves so that we can move toward lightness and well-being.
This is why one-size-fits-all self-care doesn’t work.
When we become detectives, we learn quickly:
When I eat this, I feel this way. I like this type of movement, but not that type. I need this many hours of sleep and this kind of free time. My batteries feel recharged when I do a particular set of activities.
These are the people who lift me up. My soul is happy when I am in this special place. And so on.
We ask: “What would feel good right now?” and follow the trail, like any good detective would.
It’s why our intuition is essential to self-care.
A good detective might just go down a laundry list and call it a day.
Great detectives follow their instincts, even when they seem zany. They collect the details that others gloss over. They use all of their senses.
It becomes an intuitive process, rather than something rote or by the book. They use every tool at their disposal, including all ways of knowing into solving the case.