“Self care” can feel like a tired buzzword, one often misinterpreted to mean spa days or high-priced pampering. But the most consequential acts of self care focus less on physical indulgences and more on the mental work that allows us to live authentically.
As we nurture ourselves—all of ourselves, not just the parts we think the world will accept—we uncover the strengths that make us unique. “You can’t live for the validation of being understood or liked,” says bestselling author Chidera Eggerue, known best to fans and followers as the Slumflower. “You need to live for the validation of proving that stuff to yourself.”
In Eggerue’s new Skillshare Original, Revolutionary Self Care: Embrace, Nurture, and Grow Your Authentic Self, she shares her self care routine, offering concrete exercises to help viewers develop their own. Here, we’ve unpacked some of her larger points. To reap the full benefits of Eggerue’s lessons, enroll in the course—and be sure to follow her on Instagram for regular doses of both inspiration and introspection.
Self Care and Your Authentic Voice
The first step in unlocking your true identity lies in identifying—and dismissing—the facade you’ve built for the world. Eggerue compares the struggle between our dual selves to cartoons that show an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. “I like to think of the authentic voice as the angel,” she says, “and the false voice as the devil.”
Your false self might go along with things you aren’t comfortable with, or build up a persona based on what you think the world wants to see. “The creation of the false self comes from this place of thinking that your authentic self is not going to be good enough,” says Eggerue. “And so we pander and we perform until we find ourselves feeling unfulfilled and weirdly empty inside.” Tapping into your unique instincts can offer happiness and fulfillment—and allow you to show up for yourself in ways you never expected.
“The authentic voice is something that you can use to your benefit. You can switch it on on-demand,” Eggerue says, citing Post-It notes with positive mantras as an essential tool she uses to channel her own authentic voice. “When you think highly of yourself, and when you believe yourself, period, everybody else believes in you too.”
Unlearning the Bad Stuff: Stop Negative Self Talk
To cultivate confidence, start by zeroing in on the self-destructive thoughts you’ve developed over the years—and erasing them. “We’ve all been taught malignant ideas about ourselves,” Eggerue says. “And we all have the responsibility to apply ourselves to unlearning.” Try questioning the way you respond to challenges, and self-correcting when you sense your inner voice starting to mimic the demeaning ones you’ve encountered in the outside world.
“If you’re dreaming in someone else’s language and if you’re dreaming according to what someone else has done, then that’s as far as you can go,” Eggerue says. “But if you decide to dream according to your own vast expansive imagination—and you trust that there is something waiting for you on the other side of this dream—that’s where the magic and zest of life can really be born.”
Silencing Doubt Through Self Care
Once you’ve tuned out the negativity coming from inside your brain, you’ll be better equipped to handle outside criticism—a stressor that even the most successful people struggle with. “No matter how involved you are in your field, in your life, in your career, you just can’t avoid other people’s doubt and negativity,” Eggerue says. Her advice? Be picky about whose opinion you respect, and ignore the rest.
“With the age of social media where everybody has a voice, it’s really hard to tell who is qualified and who is just opinionated,” she says. “The opinion that [should] matter to you is the one that comes from someone who’s been doing something for longer than you; someone that has more experience than you; someone that you know is speaking from a place of constructive criticism.”
The Creative Benefits of Taking Risks
Whether you’re leaving a toxic workplace or putting your art out into the world, every big jump forward involves some level of risk. “The creative process is literally a risk-taking process,” Eggerue says. “What you’re actually doing is throwing stuff at the wall, seeing what sticks, seeing what doesn’t stick, and examining that outcome.”
Failure can sting, yes. But it can also be a motivator, pushing you to find new ways to solve a problem, or encouraging you to examine a path you may not have previously considered. “Risks matter when you’re a creative person,” says Eggerue. “You only learn when you get things wrong.”
Write down affirmations that encourage you to try big things, and trust that things will work out for you—even if it doesn’t seem like it at this moment. “Cut yourself some slack as a human being,” she says. “Find joy in getting it wrong. Find joy in even trying, because most people are so scared to get it wrong, they don’t even try.”
Find Your Authentic Voice
Learn how Chidera Eggerue deals with negative self talk—and overcomes it—in her new Skillshare Original.
Your Self Care Routine: Asking for Help
Once people succeed, the narrative tends to be they did it all alone—that they battled the odds, bucked convention, and succeeded despite the people around them. “There’s a lot of shame surrounding asking for help,” Eggue says. But that shame is just another thing to unlearn: Asking for help should be a regular part of any effective self-care routine. “Everybody who’s self-made has had help in some way or another.”
Many of us are more comfortable giving help than receiving it—Eggerue herself says that accepting assistance from others makes her feel awkward—but you can teach yourself otherwise. “Asking for help doesn’t have to be a huge gesture,” Eggerue explains. “If you have people around you who care about you and love you, they will want to help you.”
Practice Self Care by Advocating for Yourself
Whether you’re speaking up about being underpaid or approaching a friend about an off-putting comment, learning to stand up for yourself—respectfully, and in a way that feels honest—is one of the most important ways you can invest in yourself. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
“We are a generation where we’re really scared of poking the bubble a little bit, ruffling the feathers,” says Eggerue. That’s no reason to be timid. “Your feathers have been ruffled, so ruffle them back and let’s both be uncomfortable. Sometimes we think, ‘Oh no, this conversation might end in us never speaking again.’ But we never actually think, ‘What if this conversation actually ends in us knowing each other way more—us respecting each other a lot more?’”
The most uncomfortable confrontations can yield the greatest long-term benefits, even when we’re just approaching our own insecurities. “It’s not always fun and sparkly and all self-care bubbles,” Eggerue admits. “Often, it’s really taking a look at yourself and asking, Am I remaining accountable? Am I trustworthy? If these answers aren’t a yes, then it’s time to dive deeper and ask yourself, ‘Where is the fear coming from?’”
Embrace Your Authentic Voice Today
We all have the capacity to nurture ourselves and our self-confidence in ways that can yield mental, emotional, and even professional benefits. “The more different and the more unique you are, the more you actually have a chance,” Eggerue says. “Ultimately, there is power in being the glitch.”
Unlearn the thinking patterns that make you question your own abilities. Find the bliss in imperfection, using failure as a way to learn and asking for help when you need it. Seek out constructive criticism from a chosen few, disregarding the noise from inconsequential doubters. And stand up for yourself when necessary—you might just find that your relationships strengthen in the process. “This comes down to trusting your decisions, trusting yourself,” Eggerue says. “Where you are right now has the potential to be the happiest place on earth.”
About Chidera Eggerue
Known to many fans and followers as the Slumflower, Chidera Eggerue is a bestselling author, an acclaimed speaker, and a powerful voice in the online conversation around body positivity, intersectional feminism, and radical self care. Her 2018 book, the bestselling What a Time to Be Alone, showed scores of readers how to celebrate themselves, and her 2020 follow-up How to Get Over a Boy offered a veritable how-to on putting yourself first in love. Her work in the self-love space continues with the new Skillshare Original Revolutionary Self Care: Embrace, Nurture, and Grow Your Authentic Self, a seven-part course about nurturing your best impulses to focus on a more confident, authentic way of living.