Self-care As a Form of Activism

The other day I was taking a Peloton bike ride with one of my favorite instructors- Tunde Oyeneyin. I love riding with Tunde because not only does she deliver a fantastic workout but she also always comes through with a dose of inspiration too.

This particular ride was about self-care which obviously isn’t a revolutionary idea. I built this platform and wrote my first book with the idea that self-care made us better at everything we chose to do-better bosses, mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, and friends. But what if it wasn’t just about making us better for the others (you know the old adage of not being able to pour from an empty cup)? What if it wasn’t about pouring from a cup at all? What if the idea of self-care was just about you? You pushing back on the idea of what society says makes us successful? Alicia Keys often refers to self-care as Soul Care. What if this wasn’t about bubble baths and yoga (though those things are great too)? What if it was instead about taking a radical approach to caring for your own soul?

With those questions in mind, I’d like to explore some of the questions that Tunde Oyeneyin posed during the ride about self-care as activism. As a disclaimer, Tunde didn’t provide any answers or elaborate on what she meant, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the questions she posed. So these musings are my own thoughts based on her questions. I’ve been told that the secret to getting what you really want out of life is really about asking the right questions. So here are my interpretations and tips on three of the questions that I would like to share with you.

What Self-Talk Would you Banish? As our country continues to go through bouts of political, economic and racial conflict I have seen so many women (and men) on my timeline use their platforms to advocate for others. Many of them have shared posts daring someone to speak out against their advocacy. Posts followed by warnings like “You will be deleted!” or “Don’t even think about saying….!” But what if we did that for ourselves? What if we decided that we wouldn’t dare speak negatively about ourselves too? What if every time that negative nagging voice in the back of our heads spoke down to us, we banished it too?

Most of us are good at protecting others because we know it’s the right thing to do but I believe we can become better at doing that for ourselves as well. The next time you have negative self-talk thought bubbles pop up I challenge you to delete them too. If you need some help with that try to write down a couple of your most frequent negative self-talk thoughts and then cross them out. Come up with a new positive phrase to replace each one so that you will be ready to hit that imaginary self-talk delete button and replace it with a reframe.

What Unavailable Space Would You Make Available to You? Another common way to advocate for others is to ensure that they have a seat at the table, but what tables have you accepted as being unavailable to you? What classes are you avoiding because you don’t think you have what it takes? What promotions or positions have you not applied to? What platforms or speaking engagement invites are you avoiding because you’re afraid to put yourself out there. Make a list of two or three spaces you would like to see yourself in at some time this year. Then add a few steps that you will need to make you feel more comfortable and confident in order to get you there.

What Yes’s Could You Unlock?-We’re all probably familiar with Shonda Rhimes’s book Year of Yes. It is actually what inspired this particular Peloton ride. She has a Year of Yes series with the Peloton company but if you aren’t familiar or you just need a refresher, Shonda basically shares how she was sharing an invite that she had received with her older sister and her sister replied “Who cares! You never say yes to anything.” Shonda’s feelings were hurt but she realized that her sister was right and that her own insecurities were holding her back. She later decided to say yes to everything for a full year!

So what if we too embraced the idea that we don’t need to wait until we lose 10lbs, or have the certification in hand or find the person of our dreams to share life with? Could you unlock the life you are hoping for by simply showing up now, as you are? Yes, my friends, the idea of accepting who we are, as we are, and still saying yes, can be revolutionary. I’m certainly not saying that you have to say yes to everything for a whole year, but what if you just decided that you’d push past your automatic no’s and say yes to something that scares you a little, at least once a month? Keep track of your yes’s and see what new opportunities unlock for you too.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on self-care as activism and if you’d be willing to try any of these tips too.

Until Next Post!

Xo Tonya Parker

As usual you can shop my look here.

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Tonya Parker is a counselor, author and certified life coach who believes in helping women look and feel their best! Ambassador for O, The Oprah Magazine and author of Single Mom Chic

4 thoughts on “Self-care As a Form of Activism

  1. Great post! I like the idea of starting with a month of yes! Adding more positive thoughts to my day and seeing me doing things I have been afraid to try will be a priority for my self-care this year!
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Taking a radical approach to caring for your own soul is exactly what I’ve been focusing on. Banishing negative shelf talk will be added to the list. Thank you for this amazing share!

    Liked by 1 person

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