How many times have you heard the phrase, “Go ahead, you deserve it”? Maybe after an especially satisfying workout, you tell yourself that you deserve a milkshake, or after a long day of work, that you deserve to put your feet up. Maybe you’re hard on yourself because you believe you deserve to punish yourself for a mistake you made weeks ago and still regret.
So much of how we treat ourselves and interpret our lives’ events can be caught up in what we think we do and don’t deserve. Unfortunately, our experiences don’t always align with these elementary notions of fairness or worthiness.
We are all deserving of love, attention, kindness, a roof over our heads, a warm bed, and food on our table. Yet across the world, many aren’t afforded some of these most basic amenities. Others may have each of these and still yearn for more. Some may lose and regain them several times over during the course of their lives.
We don’t have consistent control over the pieces of our lives that bring us a sense of security, safety, well-being, and joy. Yet we do have control over how we treat ourselves each day and the things we do not because we’ve earned them, but because we are always worthy of our own love and care.
What if you treated yourself to a milkshake simply because you wanted a treat, not because you did an extra rep? Or caught up on sleep not because you’d had a long week, but because your body needs a good night’s rest to function properly no matter the length of your workday?
When we become too dependent on doing things that nourish and sustain us only when our minds tell us we deserve to, we deprive ourselves of all the other times when we could be taking better care of ourselves. We fail to engage in the habits that, when done consistently, will make whatever weight we’re carrying a little lighter.
Practice doing kind things for yourself that aren’t tied to any particular external predictor: buy yourself fresh flowers, meditate when you’re already feeling at peace, get out your fancy dishes tucked away for the next holiday or family gathering and start using them more regularly, go for a walk simply because it’s a beautiful day.
You needn’t spend any money or change your whole lifestyle; you only need to relate to yourself in a way that communicates that it’s ok, necessary even, to do things for yourself purely for the internal reward they bring, not because you did anything to warrant them.