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April 24, 2024

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Self-Care

Moms: Connecting to Yourself is the REAL Self-Care

Bubble baths and facials are nice, but REAL self-care is about tuning in to yourself and what you really need: secure attachment.

Here’s a question to ponder: Why don’t the self-care tips work? For real. Think about it. If a bubble bath or an after-dinner stroll really took care of your ‘self,’ then you’d be walking around refreshed. And rested. And full of life. But maybe you aren’t.  You’re weary. You struggle to choose yourself first because you’re putting your kids first. You push and push and push until there’s nothing left. Why is that the go-to response to life?

Here’s the short version:

Self-care only works if you are connected to your sense of ‘self.’

REDISCOVERING YOU

You can’t take care of your self if you don’t know who your ‘self’ is. True self-care is about rediscovering — or maybe discovering for the first time — who you truly are. It’s about self-awareness. And most of all, it’s about learning how to build and maintain true self-connection with yourself and nurturing your self daily.

“Self-care is difficult if there is no self,” says Kim Honeycutt, a therapist and author of, But Your Mother Loves You: How to Overcome the Cycle of Toxic Love and Live Your Life Without Shame (Morgan James; 2019). “It is close to impossible if you believe care is a luxury for others and not yourself. It is also impossible if you believe self-care is a threat to your sense of self,” she adds.

She explains that growing up, all of us develop one of four attachment styles, which Honeycutt says is “how one is received when seeking safety during threat and danger.”

STRIVING FOR SECURE ATTACHMENT

Your attachment style — your initial connection to your primary caregiver — becomes the lens through which you will see all incoming relationships.

“In general, your childhood either gears you to have great anxiety around abandonment or great avoidance around intimacy,” Honeycutt shares. “If you want to learn self-care, you first have to discover your primary fear: Do you fear rejection more than connection or connection more than rejection?”

If the answer is rejection, then you might have the Preoccupied Attachment style, which causes you to take care of everyone else’s needs around you, but be frozen when it comes to your own needs. To the contrary, if you take care of you, but neglect others’ needs — thinking they are taking care of themselves like you are — you are likely Dismissive attachment style.

“While these two insecure attachments have some similarities, there are stark differences. One person craves dependence (preoccupied) and the other fears intimacy (dismissive); therefore, you cannot prescribe the same type of self-care regiment to them,” says Honeycutt.

The goal for every person is a secure attachment style, which helps children (and eventually adults) in all areas of functioning. Studies show only about 50 percent of people have secure attachment. And variables like generational trauma, genetics, divorce, bullying, etc. can affect you, even if you have secure attachment.

“We are all striving for the same thing — secure attachment,” Honeycutt says. “That’s really what self-care is. It means feeling emotionally and physically safe, being attuned to your self and others, being comfortable most of the time around your friends and family, and being able to explore,” Honeycutt shares.

To get there? Even if you don’t have secure attachment from childhood, you can do the work and earn it, a term coined “Earned Attachment,” through deep inner work and learning the five characteristics of a secure relationship, Honeycutt says.

“Learn slowly and methodically to speak up about what you need if you are preoccupied attachment. And dismissive people, when others speak up, then reach towards them. Others’ needs for connection doesn’t have to be a threat to your autonomy,” Honeycutt adds.

CONNECT  TO  YOU

According to Mark Hyman, M.D., New York Times bestselling author — if you want to feel vibrant and come alive, you need to look at factors like community, spirit, emotional health, relationships, nutrition, movement, purpose, and mindset.

When you make choices for a healthy ‘self’ based on the larger picture, you tap into something greater.

Think about the “why” behind other factors in your daily life. When you enter in community, you have support. If you have a purpose, you live longer. When you eat well, you physically feel better. And so on.

But what about the common self-care tips? They come in to play, but not in the way most people suggest. Bubble baths are nice but they are momentary.

“Self-care today is striving towards secure connection to self,” she says. “What if we call it self-connection instead of self-care?” Honeycutt suggests. “Maybe then we will stop rejecting ourselves, and instead, connect to ourselves and to the world around us.”

Moms don’t have to live life ragged or by putting themselves last. When you are filled up, you are able to bring your whole self to the world and make a difference in it.

(Re)discover who you are. Have a voice. Set boundaries. Truly care for your beautiful self. That is legacy-building, world-changing work, for you and your kids.

 

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About the Author

McKenna Hydrick

McKenna Hydrick is a mom, blogger and journalist. She lives in Franklin with her husband and children. Hydrick advocates for her kids with food allergies; find her recipes, resources and more at threebittybirds.com.