3 ways I'm learning to take care of me

3 Ways I’m Learning to Take Care of Me


~ A guest post by Anne Peterson sharing her struggle with self-care. ~


I hated her, plain and simple. And I knew it was wrong, but every time I saw her I was filled with disgust. The problem was, I saw her every time I looked into the mirror.

I’ll admit it, I used to hate myself.

Not quite sure when it started, maybe when the image in the mirror looked heavier than what I remembered her to be. Or maybe it was that I felt guilty because I couldn’t forgive myself.

But things are changing. I’m learning to take care of me.

I struggle, but not like I did.

I wouldn’t say I hate myself now, but there are times I’m not very nice to me.

And if there was a list of people to take care of, I’d be last. No. the truth is, I wouldn’t even be on the list.

But I am taking small steps. If any of you have struggled with self-care, maybe what I’m learning will help you.

I’ve come to see we only care for what we care about.

I realized I needed to care more about me.

Conversations with myself were definitely one area I could work on.

I’ve come to see we only care for what we care about. Click To Tweet


Changing how I talk to myself

Did you ever notice we use different tones when we talk to different people? And they can change in one second.

Have you ever been upset with someone and the phone rings and you pick it up with a completely different tone, “Hi, how are you?”

I notice I have a special tone for my grandchildren. A tone I find soothing and inviting.

I once asked my grandson, “Jude, do you know I love you?” And he replied, “How could I NOT know?”

I like the Grandma in me. My grandma tone is gentle and saturated with grace.

Even when they do something wrong, which is almost never, the little sweethearts will hear, “Oh, no, don’t touch that, it might break, and then it would hurt you.”

I feel good when I use gentleness.

But I’m not gentle when I talk to me. Instead, I’m almost yelling, “How could you do that? What is the matter with you?”

One day, I decided to change things.

The next time I made a mistake, I chose my words carefully, as if I were talking to a friend.

Instead of heaping on shame, and chastising myself, I heard myself say, “That’s okay Anne. You’re human. It’s gonna to be okay. It’s not the end of the world.”

I’m learning to tell myself things I wish would have been said to me.

I wrap them in gentleness.

They go down nice and smoothly too.

I feel good when I use gentleness. Click To Tweet

But self-care involves more than just words.

There are other lessons I needed to learn.


Teaching myself to have fun

It’s a funny commercial. One turtle is talking to another and finally asks, “Why don’t you like fun.”

I laugh instinctively, but then I feel a sting. The little guy turtle could have been talking to me.

He was talking to me.

About a month ago a friend of mine handed me an envelope. Tucked inside a beautiful note was a gift card to an Italian restaurant.  A sizable gift card.

What a nice thing to do, right? But inside I cringed.

The gesture was very generous, but now it meant I would be going out and I didn’t do that. I thought it was just because money was tight, but here I was with a gift card and I still didn’t want to go out.

I knew how to work and keep working. I did not know how to just have fun.

I did not know how to just have fun.

Fun was for other people and some turtles, not for me.

A couple of weeks later, my friend asked if I got a chance to try out the restaurant. Finally, with tears, I admitted my problem.

She had such compassion as she promised to pray for me.

“Just let me know when you try it,” she added.

I could tell she really wanted me to have some fun. She told me that God had prompted her to give me that gift. So he was in on it too.

As our wedding anniversary approached I asked God to help me. I wanted to go out.

True, part of me wanted to check it off my to do list. But there was another part that really wanted to try and have fun.

And God answered my prayers.

I saw my friend and was able to thank her in person for the great time I had.

Was it fun? It was after I talked myself into it.

It’s hard for me to relax.

And yet, peace is one of the fruits of the spirit. God would help me, I was sure.



Learning how to relax

I remember the day clearly. My husband had just come in the house and was watching me as I instructed the kids to put their toys away.

“Why are you ordering the kids around like little robots?” he asked me in the other room.

“Put this there, take this here. They are just running back and forth.”

“I’m just telling them to clean up,” I responded defensively.

“No,” he said. You are following them around picking up the very things they’re still playing with. Why can’t you just relax?”

And there it was. I had become my mom in still another way.

I don’t ever remember her just sitting down with a magazine, or putting her feet up. In fact, one New Year’s Eve I remember us getting ready to play a game. And I was shocked when I saw my mom pull up a chair to join us.

It was the one time I can remember.

Because it was the only time.

And years later, there I was in her tired footsteps.



But God

God decided to help me break this habit.

No. it didn’t happen with my own children who are now grown.

It happened with my grandchildren.

Once again, I remembered what it was like to play.

3 ways I'm learning to take care ofme
Photo courtesy of www.jessicapetersonart.com

When they come over, I have fun. I get down on the floor and play with them.

We have made Lego constructions to die for, we have played categories, we’ve played store using little adding machines. We’ve done crafts, and Candyland more times than I can count.

Yes, I know how to work, and they are showing me how to play.


It’s about how we treat ourselves.


Hi, I’m Anne and learning how to talk nicer to myself, how to relax and how to have fun. Wanna play Scrabble?


Self-care. It’s about how we treat ourselves. Click To Tweet


What now:

  • Can you relate to Anne? Let her know in the comments.
  • Know someone this would help? Please share.
  • If you don’t have it yet, get Love’s Manifesto here and know you deserve to be loved and cared for.



3 ways I'm learning to take care of meAnne Peterson is a poet, speaker, and published author of 14 books, including a memoir, Broken. She has also written children’s books, and poetry books. Of all her titles, she prefers “Grandma.”

Download a free copy of her book Real Love by joining her email list.

You can connect with her on her website, facebook, twitter, google+ and Pinterest.


Featured photo of woman looking at her reflection is courtesy of www.jessicapetersonart.com



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25 thoughts on “3 Ways I’m Learning to Take Care of Me

  1. My current grief has made me acutely aware of myself and my thoughts and how I spend my time and more. As I rebuild my life, I am keeping these things Anne is talking about in mind. Thanks for the reminders about them.

    1. Nancy,
      Grief has a way of making it even harder to do self-care. You move from one day into the next with little thought to yourself. Instead your mind is focused on how much you miss your loved one, and things you would have said, would have done. Yes, self-care is important. But when you’re grieving, it helps to have someone looking after you, too. And you can never have too many praying for you. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment, Nancy. Thinking about you.

  2. Anne what a lovely well written post! From beginning to end this one resonated with me! Especially today! I needed that gentle encouraging reminder to ‘care for self’. The turtle commercial part was funny! Changing how we talk to ourselves is definitely an important part of self care. Something I always have to be aware of in my own life.

    1. Cori-Leigh,
      Thanks so much for reading and for your thoughtful comments. So glad you enjoyed it. We cannot watch that turtle without laughing. And I can be sure my husband will give me a glance. It makes sense that the person we are with the most, namely us, ought to be nicer to us.

    1. Shayne,
      I have seen a difference in how I feel when I’ve employed this technique. I also use it when I make a mistake, where in the past, I was pretty harsh on myself. When I heard a friend of mine putting herself down, it became clear to me I needed to say something. So I told her to be nice to my friend. And she smiled and told me I was right. So if we just befriend ourselves…we’ll be okay.

  3. Great article! You’ve stopped me in my tracks as I read this article and made me realize I need to pay attention to what you are saying here. It actually reminded me of the fact that even Jesus tells us (after the first and greatest commandment to love God), to ‘love your neighbor AS yourself’ (Matthew 22:36-40) and not INSTEAD OF yourself.

    Tank you for sharing, Anne!

    1. Jaco,
      Thank you for your comment. That particular verse has always made me stop and think. Really God, don’t you want me to love people MORE than I love myself. You’re right it is not instead of ourselves. Thanks for taking the time to not only read this, but to give feedback.

  4. This piece really resonates with me. All too often I find it difficult just to relax and enjoy myself for a moment. It feels indulgent and a part of me thinks I don’t deserve it. It’s important to remind ourselves that the reason we work so hard is precisely so we can have these moments to wind down and enjoy ourselves!

    1. Kate,
      And if we have trouble thinking that our rest is a reward, then we can also remind ourselves in order to do ‘better’ work, rest is essential. I can’t tell you how many mistakes I’ve made because I powered through instead of tending to myself. We wouldn’t expect a car to go with no gas.

      1. Absolutely! It’s like reading a book right before you go to bed, as you’re falling asleep, and then having to reread all the pages the next day because you forgot everything you read the night before.

  5. Anne, I appreciated your article. My first impression was that maybe it would be about getting up and combing our hair, or making sure we take the time to brush our teeth, but instead, you went deeper. And I appreciate depth in a culture of shallow.

    Listening to those inner thoughts instead of letting them run on auto-pilot is SO incredibly important to our well being.

    I started trying to straighten out my life when I was 15. Around 20 I started poking at becoming honest about the ideas and feelings I struggled with inside. It was the hardest thing I’d ever tried to do in my life!!!

    Now, I’m 48, and I have some experience with opening up my soul, and teaching others it’s good to open up their souls, and I’ve found that the only thing any of us has ever truly done “wrong” is to believe a lie to be true. Because ALL our outward behaviour starts with the ideas in our heads. And believing a lie to be true is all it takes to turn our behaviour ugly.

    Good article!

    1. Travis, I appreciate you reading and also that you took the time to give such a thoughtful response. I’ve never been a “lets talk curtains,” kind of person, but that could be due to some hard circumstances I was forced to go through in my life from a very young age.

      Those inner thoughts take a lot to be retrained when they are negative ones. I think it’s great that you started poking around and dealing with your own struggles at such a young age. Counseling forced me to look at things and it’s kind of funny because I only went there to get my husband there. I was honestly surprised she wanted to reschedule with me. Funny now that I think about it. It didn’t seem so funny then.

      I also think it’s great that you are teaching others to open up their souls. I hope my writing does that for the readers. The lies we tell ourselves. There are a ton of them. And I agree, sometimes we don’t even look at them until we behave in an ugly manner, as you brought up. And it still make take us a while to see it.

  6. Encouraging to read, Anne! it’s helped me to more on how on need to care for myself better – getting enough sleep is one; I’d like to make more time to relax and for fun in my life.

    1. I’m reading more and more what great benefits we get from getting the rest we need, relaxing, and adding fun. Can you ever have too much fun? I don’t think so. At least, that’s how I feel on Grandma days when I get to have them over. I am always rejuvenated being with those sweethearts. Getting enough sleep just makes us more fun to even be around. Thanks for reading Colleen, and I hope you do write in fun and relaxation for yourself. Everyone will be glad you did.

Please share your thoughts!