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The 7 Stages of Self-Care

In my membership this month we’ve been working through the theme of self-care and self-leadership, which for me are two sides of the same coin.  Now, self-care you’ll no doubt be familiar with a term - but self-leadership is something we talk about a lot less often.  My personal and professional view is that we need to be talking about it a whole lot MORE - because it’s actually the key to being able to DO self-care effectively.

So first of all…

What is self care?


It sounds obvious - self care is the basic art of looking after yourself, right?  The trouble is, in recent years the lines have become a bit blurred - and it can be hard to tell the difference between superficial self-care and TRUE self-care. When I say superficial self-care, I mean doing the things we think we should be doing or which society says we should do in order to look after ourselves and our emotional wellbeing.  And because health and self-care is big business - we’re talking trillion dollar industry - there are a LOT of ways to spend your money and think you’re doing self-care when actually you’re not.  Or worse, you’re doing the opposite! 

  • The spa break you go on with your friends who you can’t actually stand

  • The bleaching, polishing, hair appointment you have which becomes more of a chore and an ongoing commitment rather than real time out, for example

  • Or the holiday that’s more about pleasing the family but is actually a massive stress-fest - or that you go on to tick off the bucket list you think you should be ticking off, instead of really enjoying it.

True self-care is about checking in with yourself and what you TRULY want and need - and, most critically, it’s about prioritising those things to make sure that you’re GETTING what you need.  It’s not always pretty, fancy or sweet smelling - and sometimes it’s more about the seemingly mundane, or the tiny moments that are completely insignificant to everyone else.  For me, for example, there’s nothing more instantly boosting to me than sitting in the sun for 5-10 minutes with my eyes closed, listening to the birdsong and thinking sweet nothing.

Ok, you might dress that up and call it meditation - but it’s allowing myself that time to just be.  

And I think we are all intrinsically wired to want those little bits of downtime - and we DEFINITELY need them.  We know from the science that they’re so good for our emotional and mental wellbeing - I would say absolutely fundamental, in fact.

You may have heard the phrase:

‘Self care isn’t selfish’

… and it’s absolutely true.

Because when we’re looking after our mental and physical wellbeing we are much nicer, happier, healthier humans; much more able to be rational and reasonable about things - and much less inclined to lose our sh*t or project our frustration at our needs not being met out into the world around us.  

The trouble is, because life’s so busy and we’re so swept up in the big stuff and the grand gestures, we bypass those natural urges and forget to give ourselves the true-  often very simple - self-care we need. And this is where self-leadership comes in.

What’s self-leadership?

Self-leadership is the thing that ALLOWS us to DO the self-care.  You see, the image we have of self-care is that it’s very much something we can just pick up and put down; something we could easily choose to do in any given moment.  The reality is quite different.  Self care is often something we actually don’t do until it’s a last resort situation.  

We only book the time off when we’re knackered and need a break.  We don’t start doing the regular exercise we know we need to do until we feel like crap, or a health problem develops.  We put it off and put it off, even though we know it would be good for us… we almost have to crash and burn to start to prioritise.  And in our minds, it’s always: ‘Oh, tomorrow I’ll start doing all the self-care things’... because we KNOW deep down that we need to do something - but there can be a whole heap of reasons why, no matter what we consciously want to create and know we should be doing, we’re never going to do it.

So self-leadership is about:

  • being absolutely in touch with ourselves in the here and now; 

  • really being able to connect with ourselves and silence all the noise;

  • being able to identify what it is we truly need;

  • and then (and this is where I would say most people fall down) - giving ourselves and our needs the attention they deserve - and making them a PRIORITY

Why do we struggle with that?  

Because we’re conditioned to believe our needs aren’t important and that to listen to them is selfish, or that spending time on ourselves is a waste of time, or that it makes us lazy.

Among other things!  

But none of those things is true.  

Our needs ARE important.  They’re NEEDS - the clue is in the word - they’re basic and fundamental to our wellbeing, our happiness and our ability to thrive within our lives and relationships.

Likewise spending time on ourselves.  

How much time do we spend on ironing, or clearing up grime and dust from our houses, or washing the dishes, or watching other people’s lives on TV - mundane stuff that achieves very little in the long run and that we’re SO good at convincing ourselves we just have to do to be a good, socially acceptable person!

How much time do we spend scrolling social media, or getting sucked down a YouTube rabbit hole?  

Yet spending real time on ourselves somehow is off limits - as though these things are worth more than our very happiness and wellbeing.

Likewise the idea that it would be lazy to take time out of your day to do absolutely nothing.  

Who’s judging how you spend your time, right?

The thing is, the way societal conditioning has gone, we really are bought in to the idea that it IS lazy and that we would be a bad person if we didn’t have something ‘important’ or ‘productive’ to do, every waking second.  

And often we fill our lives with so much busy stuff just to feel important and productive, that we find we don’t even have enough hours in the day to do all the things we’ve mentally - or physically - committed to doing!

I like to call it the ‘Busy Badge of Honour’ and it’s absolutely endemic in our society - nobody wants to be seen as the slouch (although everyone complains they want an easier ride, right?).Many of us have learned to show love by doing, by being the one that picks up all the pieces - when that love could be shown in a million other ways.

Many of us have learned that people pleasing is the key to an easy, happy life - when it’s actually anything but.  

And many of us feel shame about putting us first - because we feel unworthy.

So self-leadership is about being able to step outside of all of that.  It’s about really getting absolutely HONEST with yourself - and absolutely EMPOWERED to do what’s best for you.Of course factoring in the people and things that matter - because we’re not trying to turn ourselves into narcissists here, right?  

Just happy, well-functioning humans.

So if I could summarise self-leadership - I mean the ability to make empowered, conscious decisions that reflect what we really want and need and support our higher vision, in any given moment.  

Not being swayed by the crowd; not existing for or adjusting ourselves to please other people.  It’s about our heart-led self and our head coming together and co-creating the reality we want - rather than having that internal battle going on all the time, when our heart says one thing and our head says another.

And good self-leadership can help us not only master our sabotaging habits and behaviours and feel way more fulfilled - it also helps us elevate our actions to really define our place in the world and step up to everything we want our experience to be.  

What are the 7 Stages of Self-Care?

Now as you might know, I’ve been a registered clinical hypnotherapist & psychotherapist now for the past 7 years, working with people who need to perform under pressure.  

And over that time I’ve really developed a deep understanding about the journey people go on as they make that shift into self-leadership and empowerment around their time, their wellbeing and their ability to prioritise all of the above - a pathway I’ve developed that I call the 7 Stages of Self-Care.


Wired for Wealth®️: The 7 Stages of Self-Care
Wired for Wealth®️: The 7 Stages of Self-Care

The 7 Stages of Self-Care

So you can probably see from this pathway that SO much of our ability to step into self-leadership and create a world where we feel truly fulfilled, comes from self-acceptance, self-knowledge, truly understanding where we’re at and what it really is that we want.  

In other words, it comes from a place of grounded, non-judgemental listening and allowing of our true, core self.  And in this competitive, modern world - that’s not always easy!  So often we’re all about constant achievement and all the stuff we ‘should’ be doing’.  But the irony is, that to create that strong and positive future - to do all the things we want to do - we need to feel strong, positive and anchored in our present self.  

For many of us, it’s almost become habitual to feel we’ve got to run away from our present, rather than sitting with ourselves as we are, now, and asking what would truly bring peace and fulfilment.  Which is a big mistake.

The 7 stages are very much about first of all, just finding that space to ask those questions.  To become truly aware.

Very often we think we’re doing that because we’re proactive, we have a desire to change and be better, we’re listening to our desires, we’re journaling… but so often those desires are false desires, and it’s only when we really get present and connect with ourselves deeply that the truth comes through.  

Then, it’s about learning to see the value in yourself and feeling deserving. 

Allowing yourself to embrace those needs.

And putting yourself in a place where you can truly meet your own needs whilst prioritising everything that really is important to you.

The reason most of us don’t do that is because we just don’t give ourselves the respect, appreciation and attention we deserve.  

And in many ways, you could almost say that IS the essence of self-care - so it’s a self-fulfilling cycle!

My hope is that this post will inspire you to start thinking a little differently and really checking in with the things YOU need to focus on, to help you grow into self-leadership and into being able to truly embrace self-care.

You don’t have to stay in a place where you’re denying yourself and your needs to please others.

You don’t have to put yourself last any more.

Abi says it’s ok.

So how can I get better at self-leadership without it affecting my relationships?

Of course I can’t give you direct advice here around your situation, and a good therapist would never tell you what to do. 

But for most people, the best way to make any kind of change which involves implementing boundaries and shifting relationship dynamics, is by subtly shifting the way they show up - it’s often about shifting the energetic boundaries around what we will and won’t accept, rather than bringing confrontation in to the equation.

Of course, sometimes honest conversations are absolutely needed - but those can only happen when you’re feeling assured in yourself and your power to hold them, without them becoming emotionally charged and unnecessarily fraught.

And this all starts by shifting our OWN expectations around the reactions we might get, and challenging the identity we’ve assumed which, until now has kept us in a false perception of being ‘safe’.

As you will, no doubt, have heard many times - when we start to do this and put ourselves FIRST - everyone’s lives tend to get better, not worse!  

Because when we’re looking after ourselves properly we can show up with way more energy, attention and love for the people and causes that matter, rather than operating from a place of disempowerment, resentment and need.  

And that in turn makes us way more positive, productive, powerful and present in our own lives and the lives of everyone else around us.

However, true as this might be, if you’re feeling unable to have those conversations, if you feel disempowered within your relationships or you feel like there are invisible barriers or old traumas holding you back, it might be that working with a good therapist to shift some of those identity-level issues - which is often the key to unlocking truly great self-leadership.

If you’d like to chat about this more and discover how we could work together to help you through anything you’re struggling with - around this or any other aspect of your thoughts, emotions, behaviours or soulful journey to success - then please feel free to get in touch via my website.

Thank you for reading and have a great day!


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