The Beauty of Self-Care: Lesson 8 – Vulnerability + Gratitude


Image above by Jen Corace

There are so many motivational phrases bouncing around in the universe. On any given day, I can download desktop wallpaper that tells me to “Go get ’em tiger,” “Hustle,” or “Today’s the day.” This is pretty awesome — so much good-vibe stuff out there. But if you’re still on the precipice and awaiting positive change or just beginning a true self-care practice, all that goodness and positivity can make you feel like everyone else is getting a shower of golden light while you’re still stuck with grey skies. If I’m not a 110%, my reaction to positivity is usually to growl and then beat myself up for being a jerk to the world by growling.

True self-care is about allowing yourself to growl, recognizing growling is not something you want to cultivate, and spending time listening to your grievances and saying okay.

When you let you be you, you’ll find other you’s. Better than that, you’ll find non-you’s who genuinely like you being you. Witness the text conversation below. My texts are in blue.


Please, please, please click through to read the quick story and lesson around vulnerability and gratitude if you’re struggling to care for yourself in a deeper way. Make the time. It’s so worth it. –Caitlin



Another big thank you to our series partner, Aveda, who knows a thing or two about serious self-care. If you can, treat yourself to an Aveda product and make it part of your body’s self-care routine. If your budget doesn’t allow you to treat yourself at the moment, do this exercise and share what you did in the comments for a chance for us to treat you to a complimentary Tulasara skincare kit from Aveda. You can learn more about Aveda and the benefits of the Tulasara skincare practice here. I use this product every day.


Here’s the context of the conversation: a local acquaintance reached out to me by text to see if I was going to the D.C. In The Company of Women panel. I replied that I was and she offered to drive. Normally, I would have not accepted for fear of awkward silences during a road trip, but that seemed decidedly not in the spirit of the event so I accepted the invitation. And wow! What a wonderful ride. A true connection was made, even before we entered a room full of 200+ women that filled us with real talk and inspiration.

I have spent decades being the me who kept people at a distance by being me to an uncomfortable level. If they didn’t get me, I’d snarl. If they looked at me in an honest attempt to put together a first impression, my personality would get so big and bombard them with so much energy so that they literally couldn’t think. This wasn’t a planned approach, just something I came to recognize (and eventually own & change) as I began some serious self-care.

The bottom line of this story is two-fold.

I forced myself out of my comfort zone by acting on something I wanted to change in my life from an exercise in Designing Your Life. See this post if you’re interested. “Be more social” was something I wanted to put into action, albeit it begrudgingly. I allowed myself to be vulnerable.

I thanked the person who appeared after I set the “be more social” goal. I let her know that she made a difference in my world, which at the moment is a bit uncomfortable. I stopped myself from thinking “well, I had a great time and made a connection but maybe she was miserable!” Again, I allowed myself to be vulnerable — this time by expressing true gratitude.

This week’s lesson is probably the easiest one yet. It requires no materials, no pre-planning — just a moment of your time to make someone’s day. Okay, it actually might be the hardest one yet because it does require you to be vulnerable. Do it anyway. I’m confident no matter how the person you’re showering with gratitude responds, you will come away smiling.

The Exercise:

The Easy Way — Pick a random person who looks as though they need might need a pick-me-up. Or pick a person who just looks stressed, harried or otherwise not thrilled in the present moment. Give them a compliment like, “You have really kind eyes,” or “That’s a beautiful color. Thanks for bringing some green into my day.”

The Harder Way — Pick someone you see fairly frequently and just thank them for something. I usually end up doing this at someone’s workplace because I want them to feel good about what they do and know they make a difference.

The Hardest Way — Pick someone with whom you’ve felt some friction in the past. This could even be the guy you get your coffee from who smiles at you you every day but you don’t smile back because you just woke up and you know that they resent it. Thank them for something good that you’ve learned from the conflict between you. You don’t have to acknowledge the friction, just the good thing. Something like, “Thank you for always bringing your passion to our discussions. It’s really nice that you care so much.”

This may feel insincere because the person really just likes to argue and isn’t interested in bringing any positivity to the table, but it’s actually not. You can celebrate the fact that this person brings energy (period) to the table. Leave the positive or negative out of it. They don’t have to care for the right reasons. You’re thanking them for just being who they are.

And in my own practice of gratitude, thank you for reading this and caring for yourself. You’re making the world a better place. –Caitlin

from Design*Sponge


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