By Melissa McCreery, PhD
If you are like most busy women with too much on their plates, one of the most important things you can do for yourself is to practice indulging—really indulging. Interestingly, most women who really need to indulge more will tell you that they believe they ought to be indulging less. What’s this about?
Let’s get really clear about what indulging is.
From my perspective, to indulge means to allow yourself to experience something really wonderful. Indulging comes from a place of compassion and kindness and respect. It’s a gift, freely given. Indulging means to allow yourself to enjoy fully. It means to thoroughly experience something and soak up and savor the experience. An indulgence is not a candy bar from the vending machine that you shove into your mouth while driving to your next appointment. It’s your favorite food on a beautiful plate in a setting where you can truly savor it.
Indulging isn’t just about food, but it’s something that feeds our senses in a wonderful way. You might indulge in a bubble bath or a foot massage or a solitary walk in the woods. Your indulgence might be your favorite CD played in your car or fresh flowers on your desk or a glass of red wine enjoyed on your deck.
Indulging is a full-body-use-all-your-senses experience.
It fills you up, brings you joy, refuels you and adds color to your life. Indulging feeds your soul and is a necessary ingredient for thriving. Your inner champion, or what you may think of as your “best self” absolutely purrs when she is indulged.
So why does indulging have such a bad rap? Why do so many women think that indulging is selfish or nonproductive or just plain wrong?
I’d like to bust some myths about indulging, and while I’m at it, let me remind you that many bad habits such as overeating, procrastination, and spending too much time online or “not doing” what you really need to do, happen because you aren’t indulging enough.
When your spirit and soul aren’t being fed, you will grasp at straws (or potato chips or chocolate chip cookies) to try to make up for it. When you don’t allow yourself to truly indulge, you will find yourself reaching for poor substitutes that might help you feel better temporarily, but that don’t make anything better in the big picture.
Here are some more truths about indulging:
1. Indulging is not about greed or sloth. Indulging isn’t about excess. It’s about allowing yourself something wonderful or special and allowing yourself to really experience and savor it–without guilt or shame. It’s not eating the whole box of cookies or bingeing on clothes at the mall. It’s about allowing yourself just the right amount of what you really crave and fully enjoying the experience. Indulging is not about gulping, it’s a melts-in-your-mouth experience.
2. Indulging is not laziness Indulging is a way of feeding an important part of yourself and adding dimension to your life. Some women worry that if they start to indulge they’ll “lose control.” The truth is, when you really allow yourself to indulge, you tend to be more satisfied with less.
3. Indulging does not have to be earned or “deserved.” Some women believe that they haven’t “worked hard enough” or “accomplished enough” to indulge. When you don’t allow yourself this kind of self-care, it’s easy to become caught in a cycle of working harder and harder and feeling more and more behind and burnt out. Again, indulging yourself is a way of refueling. It actually enhances your productivity.
4. Indulging does not decrease your productivity or make you fat. I’ve already addressed this, but this is such a common myth, it’s important to restate. Allowing yourself truly indulgent experiences, ones where you are completely present and savoring the moment, satisfies you. Real indulgences don’t leave you hungry and craving more—they rejuvenate you and fuel you to be your best. What does leave you primed for a binge of food or laziness is the feeling that your special treat is forbidden or undeserved. The message that you are never going to be allowed to rest or feel like “enough” or eat chocolate again will almost certainly create a craving for the forbidden that can be almost impossible to resist.
My challenge to you:
Start indulging. Make a list of things that you experience as special treats. Keep it somewhere where you can add to it as new ideas occur to you. Begin scheduling these into your life on a regular basis and enjoy.
Take good care,
Psychologist and Life Coach Dr. Melissa McCreery focuses on the three Os that ambush successful, high-achieving women—overeating, overwhelm, and overload at http://TooMuchonHerPlate.com . Beginning November 14, 2011, she is sponsoring a massive giveaway for women who want more ease, joy, and success in their lives and their work. Come claim your gifts from November 14-21 at http://TooMuchonHerPlateWeek.com .