Self Care – ‘Walking the Talk’

The concept of self-care is still riddled with the attitude of it being self-indulgent and selfish. We often champion the idea that putting others before ourselves is something to aspire to, and perhaps there is nowhere that this is more pronounced than with mothers, who are applauded and celebrated when ‘putting the children first’.

The thing is that most of us know that we learn so much more by example rather than by being told – so the natural extrapolation of this is that if we look down on the activity of self-care, we are creating a framework that says:

  • Don’t respond to, or respect how we feel
  • Don’t listen to what our body is telling us at any given time
  • Push through in disregard of ourselves to take care of others.

There is one super simple point which is played out all too frequently: if we do not take care of ourselves, there comes a point when we are not in a position to care for others, either because we have become unwell or because we have imploded with the resentment of martyrdom.

So, not taking loving care of ourselves is actually, perversely maybe, an abdication of responsibility. And again, nowhere perhaps is this more keenly felt than in parenthood, which is the foundation upon which our children grow. If we do not take responsibility for ourselves, we often feed a social framework of victimhood and expecting other people to solve the mess we get ourselves into – either through driving ourselves to ill-health or blaming others for our conditions or circumstances.

As an experiment and moment of self-study, I tried this exercise: I took one thing I did in my everyday that I could identify as taking care of myself – over time it included super simple and ‘mundane’ things, like brushing my teeth, putting cream on, getting dressed, boiling the kettle, cooking etc. – and I gave it a bit more attention. I asked myself, “Is this just a perfunctory habit… getting things done, or is there more to it? And is there space for deeper care, observation and self-respect in this task?” Over a period of a week, I simply clocked what was going on:

Was I:

  • Distracted, or present with myself?
  • Thinking about a multitude of other things?
  • Attentive to what I was doing right in that moment?
  • Already focusing on what I was going to be doing next?

And over these days, I started to clock if anything was changing.

My experience of doing this has been really profound. In the most mundane, repetitive of tasks I have found extraordinary opportunities to take care and get to know myself on a whole new level. The way I open doors has been a big one. Do I do it in such a way that hurts my hand, or in a way that feeds me back respect, care and tenderness? Maybe the experience is somewhere in between these two, but it is always an opportunity to observe and to learn something.

What I have found as a parent and teacher is that by putting into place basic strategies for self-care, my children and students have stepped up to taking more responsibility for themselves. The knock-on effects are significant.

We have a joke in our family that when I was cold I used to ask the kids to put on jumpers! Well now I dress myself appropriately for the weather and, hey presto, they have taken to doing so too, or running back and getting a jacket or jumper when they step outside and realise it is colder than they thought.

In school, having a bottle of water on my desk and sipping it frequently led to the students all bringing in water bottles and drinking from them regularly too.

It is the really simple things that make a foundational difference and we cannot escape the fact that we have to ‘walk our talk’ for the ‘talk’ to be in any way sincere or inspiring… and when we do, the ‘walk’ does a lot of the ‘talking’. I am certainly inspired by many others in this way.

By Matilda Bathurst, Registered Midwife & Nurse, Teacher and Mother of 3 boys, Hampshire, UK

Related Reading:
What’s all the fuss about self-care?
Self-care and Learning To Respect My Body
Self Care Tips














1,520 thoughts on “Self Care – ‘Walking the Talk’

  1. It is actually also in these little moments in life that if we do check out or do them without care we get really exhausted. It is when we are not present with what we are doing that we lose energy as we are not purposefully spending it on what we are doing.

    1. Thank you Lieke. It’s as if presence and purpose go together and in that powerful marriage we energise ourselves and each other.

  2. I did a similar exercise and it was really interesting to see how I was thinking of other things while showering or putting on my body cream after the shower. It is very revealing as I think I’m with me but I’m not at all, I’m up in my head and so this explains why I can get so tired at times during the day, because I’m not with myself.

    1. I can relate to this so well Mary. Not being ‘with oneself’ as one goes about doing the daily tasks is so draining.

  3. A great experiment Matilda, revealing so much to you (and us by your sharing) about your commitment to self-care.

  4. We can talk about things till the cows come home but nothing changes. It is when we live the changes that the changes multiply.

  5. Sadly this is so true in our society, where many live holding onto the limiting belief that it is selfish to take care and honour yourself. I feel such a level of responsibility everyday with all the people I come in contact with to reflect another way of the care I take for my body as it is only then that we can inspire trust in others to break away from the shackles of the mind.

  6. It’s true – I have complicated life so much when really it is very very simple – I don’t need to try to save the world – but simply do what my Soul would do in any given situation and the rest takes care of itself.

  7. Self-care conjures images of hard work, doing “the right” thing, and being boring… this image is a long, long way from the truth of what self-care actually is and offers. Self-care is treating yourself with a tenderness that honours the loveliness of who each of us are within.

    1. It sure is Heather. And that goes for women as well as for men. Especially men have drifted very far away from true self care often disregarding themselves in a major way, without being aware of it.

  8. This totally turns the saying ‘do as I say not as I do’ on its head. For in living as Matilda has here makes the truth of the saying ‘living my truth invites you to live yours’. No words needed.

  9. Loved reading it again. We only have to present and reflect and in the end people will comply, if they chose so. At work I do take care for me, also with regard to what I eat during lunch, always bringing food that keeps me light as much as possible. Never pushing this way of living to other people, sometimes sharing, when asked why I live this way. Then, after 10 months working here, a colleague who I hardly talk to, send me an email: that she was struggling with a diet and wanted to know if I had some tips.

  10. Love the title ‘Walking the Talk’ we so easily look after others before ourselves, yet our responsibility has to be to look after ourselves first, otherwise what quality are we offering to look after others in.

  11. Matilda this is a very powerful line “If we do not take responsibility for ourselves, we often feed a social framework of victimhood and expecting other people to solve the mess we get ourselves into – either through driving ourselves to ill-health or blaming others for our conditions or circumstances.” I am understanding more each day this exactly because with each need, demand or expectation of another I am simply faced once again with my own responsibility to love and care myself and know that where I am is due to my own choices no matter how subtle those choices may be.

  12. We all know about role models in society, but basically every one is a role model for other people. Either in a good way or bad way. And indeed the way we are living speaks more loudly than all the words we say. Role modeling is 24/7 and picked up constantly by other people.

    1. When our words are used with discernment they can be empowering if they are presented with energetic integrity. One day we will all understand that as we speak the energy we speak in will come back to us as a energetic reflection of the energy we were in when we spoke.

  13. Matilda this is great, the way you have brought a focus to what you do, so that others get that true reflection is seen for its simplicity in this blog. Then could it be that we have to bring a complete appreciation to all we do so our Livingness is then humbly transparent in our own eyes, and this is then the blessing that is self-empowering because of the way we appreciate? Why humbly transparent, humble because we have debased the spirit so the universe opens up to us and we know our true path. Transparent or transparency, which is our pure innocence with the knowing of who we are with the true power that is now claimed.

  14. If we take care for others without having a foundation of self-love and self-care then we are just simply living a lie that might give us recognition and acceptance from others but in truth the act itself comes from an emptiness as true love and care can only come from a body that is loved and nurtured. Thank you Matilda.

  15. Not taking care of ourselves is certainly an abdication of responsibility; it is therefore incumbent on us all to walk the talk and deeply self care for the good of all.

    1. I like what you say here Shirley, actually you say that in taking care for oneself you not only do this for yourself but in doing so take care for all people in the world too.

  16. Without self care we cannot care for another, no matter how much we want to or believe we can…it simply isn’t in us to be able to deliver true care to others when we are void of it in ourselves.

    1. I agree Brendan, I used to think I was caring for others when I wasn’t caring for myself and found a lot of resentment crept in especially when I was ignoring caring for myself. Resentment is definitely not caring or loving. Now I understand I had it the wrong way around, and now I am choosing to care for myself so I can be truly caring for others naturally and effortlessly.

  17. “Is this just a perfunctory habit… getting things done, or is there more to it? And is there space for deeper care, observation and self-respect in this task?” – this is such a beautiful invitation to take ourselves to a deeper level of connection with what we are doing.

  18. “The thing is that most of us know that we learn so much more by example rather than by being told.” When we truly appreciate what is being said here we all know we have a responsibility to live and move in such a way that we talk our walk as our walk actually does reveal everything of who we are as our movements do not lie while our talk can.

    1. We even know this as there is a saying ‘actions speak louder than words’ and yet the appreciation and valuing of the quality of our actions is missing. We can be praised for our actions but there needs to be more attention and appreciation on the quality we can act in.

      1. Indeed Leigh, actually it is the quality that we bring into all our actions that is what really matters. We can do actions that look grand but lack the underlying quality that makes it sustainable and a support for everyone thereafter to take it further to the next level.

  19. ‘Walking the talk’ is inspiring, where how we live, express and respond says it all. I find we can pick up as in read into a lot more in someone’s movements than words can express.

  20. Absolutely – when we don’t look after ourselves we have left responsibility behind. For me, as I become involved in more… more projects, more people’s lives, more institutions, I realise just how irresponsible it is when I do check out, stay up late, eat badly etc… I’m destroying the opportunity to be everything I know I can be in the next moment, for the next conversation or presentation. Anything that means I’m not being fully me in the next moment becomes a step into irresponsibility and that realisation has had an enormous impact on how I now choose to live.

  21. The more focus I put on other people changing the less they do. When I focus on changing my own walk/lifestyle choices then others naturally change on their own accord without me having to try or having an investment on them changing.

  22. I love the flow on effect that self care has, not only on ourselves but on those around us. In this way it is super supportive for all of society when we do it.

  23. Funny (not) how often our societies parade about the opposite of the truth. It is completely selfish to NOT care for yourself for as you say if you do not care for yourself how can you possibly care for anyone else?

  24. It can be easy to imagine the influence that taking care has on others around us, but there is also the unseen influence on ourselves of taking care in our movements, the way it changes how we feel about ourselves the more we do it and make it our foundations, something we never settle for less than. Lovely blog Matilda.

  25. When we appreciate quality and purpose and treat everything we do as equal, anything we do, even that which we consider mundane, can literally bring our life alive.

  26. I agree Matilda, Love is in the detail, small movements, words of support self and others. And when we pay attention to small movements like opening a door and do so with awareness and tenderness everything changes. For me I realise how much of the preciousness of life is missed when we’re not consciously present in each moment

  27. Loved hearing about the amazing knock on effect of when you have taken the time to self care, then your students have seen this and also taken the time to self care, that is really wonderful and shows you the power of reflection.

  28. We need to take care of our self in order to be able to care for others and to deepen the love and care that we bring to another. Bringing more awareness to our whole body and what it is reflecting back to us gives us a true marker of what we really need – no more or less.

  29. ‘…So, not taking loving care of ourselves is actually, perversely maybe, an abdication of responsibility.’ – This is a great point to raise as it asks us to consider the bigger picture of reflection we all play. The fact is we naturally observe each other – hence reflections are so much a part of our lives.

  30. I love what you did on a day to day basis to really clock how are you when doing the so called ‘mundane’ things in life, brushing teeth, driving, cooking etc, where are you? were you thinking of other things, solving issues, doing everything but be with yourself doing that task. It is a really simple way to really check in and monitor where you are at.

  31. One of the biggest self-caring things that I am doing at the moment is drinking enough water during the day. It is these simple things that do indeed make all the difference.

  32. I really enjoy how doing simple tasks in our daily lives actually opens up a dialogue of not only how we are in that moment but it also then offers us a reflection for how we have lived that day, that week etc. Every moment we have the opportunity to dig a little deeper within ourselves to understand the very essence of our make up and it is a choice only we can make for ourselves.

  33. As a society, we seem to underestimate how supportive and powerful self-care is and interesting how much is out there that encourages us to ignore how we feel and what our body is communicating to us. I am sure if we all took responsibility and fully embraced self-care in every aspect of our lives, our health system would not be under strain.

  34. I love that reflection you give to the children, they see you drinking water and they start to bring their own. This way parenting can become very simple and shows we do not need to push our kids but just live in a way that we wish for them to live.

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