For us as women, nurturing others is a way of life. We are told that we are naturally more nurturing than men—and it certainly looks that way to most observers. Perhaps there is some truth to the notion that there is a biological or genetic imperative to nurture that is part of women’s essential nature— the quality that we frequently call “the mothering instinct”.
The male version of nurturance is typically referred to as “protecting” or “providing for” their family, which may also be viewed as a form of nurturance.
Women’s forms of nurturing as usually softer, more intimate, relational, and other-directed, while men’s protectiveness is directed toward the outer world, protecting loved ones from external threats and “providing for” typically involves more physical or material forms of taking care of others. Naturally, individual men and women may manifest more typically masculine or feminine forms of nurturance and some people seem to have little to no understanding or capacity for nurturance. These are usually people who have experienced significant wounding in their lives and not gotten the healing that they need and deserve.
When we think of nurturing ourselves, we usually think of getting enough sleep, relaxing activities, time in nature, massages, chocolate and other small self-indulgences. All these ways of caring for ourselves are wonderful and most of us could use more of this in our lives! But there are many dimensions to self-nurturance that we don’t typically think about–alternative forms of self-nurturance that greatly enhance our well-being.
In addition to gifting ourselves those indulgences that we love so much, we benefit even more from taking care of our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual selves. Regardless of how many treats we give ourselves if we fail to take care of our bodies in a sensible way or stay in abusive situations and relationships that are harming us, we are neglecting the most important forms of self-care. Having healthy boundaries is an essential way of caring about and caring for ourselves. Releasing ourselves from our own perfectionism is another way of allowing ourselves to feel worthy. We can create a nurturing environment for ourselves within our own minds. Let’s discuss some of the ways we can take care of ourselves beyond the relaxation and indulgences that we normally associate with self-nurturance.
- What ways have you found to nurture yourself? Which have been most beneficial to you?
- What do the terms self-nurturance, caring for yourself and enhancing well-being mean to you? Is this something you do well and often or seldom and poorly?
- Can you think of alternative ways that you take care of yourself and enhance the quality of your life or your well-being? Please share some of these with the group.
- Give a couple of examples of how else you can nurture yourself; for example, by setting and maintaining boundaries, releasing yourself from limiting or negative self-beliefs or allowing yourself to be nurtured rather than always nurturing others.