We all have different definitions of self-care, and we all have different definitions of self-care at different times in our lives. In our 20’s it might have a very different meaning from when we’re in our 40’s, just as in our 40’s to our 70’s. This article is meant to provide a guideline by which we can all determine if our definitions of self-care are about a deep regard of self; and, if not, how to deepen our rituals of caring for ourselves and our well-being.
Self-Care As A Divine Responsibility
While going to the spa can be a way of caring for yourself, there is something more important to one’s core being to pay attention to. Something sacred that cuts to the heart of what it is to be good to oneself, connected to oneself in a way that harmonizes one’s actions and brings an integrity of being into our grasp. An integrity of being that encompasses being true to ourselves no matter what comes our way.
Do you hold onto grudges and resentments? Maybe this is not the first thing you would have thought of when thinking of self-care. We’re going to go deep and off the beaten path, later we’ll return to something more familiar.
Not forgiving someone is like eating poison and expecting someone else to die.
We hear a lot about forgiveness these days, so I’m not here to tip the scales with one more thing about why you should be forgiving. I will say this though. When you choose not to forgive, or to continue resenting someone or something, you are exposing yourself to all kinds of physical problems and ailments that begin first with a pileup of negative emotion.
Being emotional, in American society, and some other societies around the world, is seen as being tumultuous, or unnecessary. However, being emotional is healthy. Not allowing your emotions to be expressed and suppressing them instead is a sure way to shut your health down. And not allowing yourself to fully express and be healed through that full expression is a sure way to disconnect from yourself and the innate health (or resilience) that resides within us all. How that disconnection will manifest as illness or disease depends on how long you allow it to continue, and at what intensity the resentment and negativity within you lives. Expressing your emotions – which, by the way, is definitely not the same as acting them out on others – makes forgiveness an easier prospect and a more definite resolution.
Do you speak your truth? And I don’t mean in a Stand Up For Yourself Or Lay Down And Die-kind of way. Although, if that’s important to you, it could be instrumental in your self-care, but I’m talking about on a more everyday basis. Do you speak your truth in business dealings? Do you say what you know needs to be said to your boss? Do you bite your lip when around a certain friend or work colleague? Do you edit yourself to mute when around your mother? Your father? Your brother? Your sister? Swallowing your words, or keeping them to yourself, can be detrimental to your health.
Go there. When you say what we’re all thinking, you set us free. Liberating the Truth is the highest form of creativity.
— #truthbomb, Danielle LaPorte
It is important to find a way to say what is there for you to say – and you do not have to act out on others to be truthful. You have a point of view. Your thoughts are valid. We all have arenas where we go radio silent – or in the same vein but on the opposite side of the coin, we go on hyper-blast – because we don’t feel safe to say what we feel. It does not have to be “either“ their opinions, “or“ ours. Both perspectives can exist at once. All can coincide together. That’s why I love the bumper sticker “Coexist,” because everything absolutely can. Together. And frankly, already does. To have peace in this coexistence… All you have to do is know this is true for you.
Do you find ways to manage your stress? There are many ways to take on your stress, but getting a massage is not always an effective way to handle stress as stress does not live in your muscles; it lives in your nervous system. You can’t massage your nervous system. So you must find deeper ways of reconnecting to your parasympathetic nervous system that is responsible for your states of Rest & Digest. If you are not sleeping well, have a busy mind, find yourself in different states of anxiety or depression, have physical ailments that keep you from functioning optimally or fully in your daily life, you need to look deeper into what can relieve your stress at greater and greater levels beyond a mere massage of your muscles. Meditation, and mindfulness are possibilities, but there are a multitude of ways to relieve stress. Find ones that suit you.
Do you honor your body? Do you take the proper time to get the proper nutrition? Do you get enough to eat? Do you overeat to numb yourself to your feelings? Do you know what’s in your food? Do you care what’s in your food? Do you honor your food as you eat it with a prayer or a thought of appreciation? Or do you think negative thoughts about it like “I really shouldn’t be eating this” or “I shouldn’t be eating this much”? Do you know if your body is digesting properly? Are you concerned about giving your body the nutrients it needs? If you don’t have answers for these questions. Get them. Your body is a temple. If you don’t think so, think of how that kind of sacred regard could take your health to heights it’s not been to before.
Do you confront what you know is within you? It’s not important how long it takes you to confront something that you know is requiring you to grow in your life. Do it all in your own time – however long that is. What does matter however is if you are actually paying attention and being willing to give yourself over to the challenge of your own transformation. If you are not, and instead you are giving all your attention to others and the quality of their lives, or just plain hiding from your own, then you’re not about caring for yourself. If your actions right now are inconsistent with caring for your self, then this is a great big opportunity for you to take a look at this area of your life. And take on the challenges that will grow you.
Do you think of yourself first in relationships? Yes, I know. This may sound odd and even counter-intuitive given a relationship is an opportunity to give yourself over to another, to put another ahead of yourself. Except… it’s not. A relationship, especially as we have now evolved into our current understanding of ourselves and our responsibility to be true to ourselves, is the space in which you can begin to realize that you are important, and when you highly regard your own importance, it’s quite natural for others to follow suit. When you regard yourself highly, you are now fully charged to give of yourself to another. Imagine that. Two whole people, discovering who they are becoming and being interested in their own well-being first, makes them both able to bring their whole selves to one whole healthy relationship. Then you can be more peacefully united, because you’re not using your relationship to make up for what you believe you lack, or don’t do well. Then we are more wholly ourselves so that we may be more truly ourselves together. The greatest opportunity for intimacy lies in this equation:
whole + whole = whole and healthy
Do you serve others before you take care of yourself?
Fact: You being sick doesn’t help others get well. You being poor doesn’t help anyone to be more prosperous. You being strong, healthy, living in abundance is very, very helpful to the collective. So please, be well, be radiant, be rich, be famous, be super-human — be whatever feels good. Do NOT go hungry or dim your light to ‘be of service to the world.’
— #truthbomb, Danielle LaPorte
Service is a wonderful thing. Playing a big game and putting yourself on the line for something greater than yourself is a hugely transformative experience. However, putting others’ needs before your own constantly, and before dealing with your own self-care, is detrimental to your own well-being. As a precedent, it can be dangerous to your health to take into account the preferences of others before your own. What if their preferences don’t honor who you are? What if you were to truly assess how you feel when you are fulfilling the desires of others before your own are fulfilled? What if there is far more shame and guilt ensuing in the wake of what you believe to be altruism? What if giving of yourself leaves you with nothing at the end of the day, even if it did at the beginning, but now no longer? No energy. No fulfillment. No zest. Lackluster. Where will you fill up? Or do you just keep going whether you’re taken care of or not? After all, you’re doing good for the world, for your community, for your family, for your friends. This thinking can lead to depletion and illness. Some of us learn to forsake ourselves for the good of the whole. That’s just a lie. There is no good of the whole if the good of one is overlooked. Your overlooking yourself is the missing component and makes your altruism a thief, a liar, and a cheat. Service is best fulfilled once you are. Bringing your joy to serving others is far more generous than bringing a shadow of yourself to it.
Do you give yourself what you want?
Desire is the onward impulse of the ever-evolving soul.
— Charles Fillmore
Desire can be a contentious subject for human beings. For some of us, it’s a dirty thing to think you can have everything you want. Arrogance. Self-serving. For some of us, it’s a dirty thing not to. Which camp are you in?
Humility does not equal poverty. Poverty is not nobility. If you make yourself wrong for wanting, you’ve made yourself wrong for the very thing that is the pulse of who you are. Experiment with giving yourself something you want that you’re not sure you should have. Remember to observe all your thoughts that may say, “This is wrong. You shouldn’t do that. This is what gets people in trouble.” Notice and observe yourself when your thoughts make you wrong for wanting and for fulfilling your desire. Start small.
If you have negative feelings around your desire, you may want to heal what is underneath that negativity. Negative feelings are not islands, they are always connected to much deeper issues of disconnection. Healing will bring you peace and a possible new outlook that will surprise you.
Do you think well-being is only about your physical body? Well-being is not just about your physical body. It is about your whole being. Being well relates to your mind, your body and your spirit. Are you well? Are you concerned that you may not be? Or are you not concerned, but have an inkling you should be? Do you just hope for the best? Or do you not think about it at all because… “you’re not crazy?” Did you know that that’s an unhealthy viewpoint? Everyone can use an opportunity to share their authentic fears, their confidences, their ups, their downs, their anxieties, their safe harbors and the breaches of those safe harbors.
Have you ever thought of seeing a therapist? Make an appointment and try one on. You certainly don’t have to settle in at the first therapist you visit, or leave the whole thing because you didn’t find one that made you feel safe. Make sure you vibe with the person you’re working with. And if the one-on-one aspect doesn’t work for you, try a group session where you get to talk about what bothers you. For those of you that think “I don’t want to wallow in the bad things that happened to me” or “I don’t want to focus on the past.” Therapy is personal and unique. If you don’t want yours to be about that, it absolutely does not have to be. Therapy is not about so wallowing in your past or your bad feelings, but a space that you can allow those things you’ve suppressed out so that there may be release and/or forgiveness, and ultimately, peace. And if you don’t think anything bothers you, you’re kidding yourself. Everyone has something that bothers them. All of us have also learned well how to suppress those things that bother us, so much so that we have numbed ourselves in the process. Once you are numb, you will not be able to feel. That’s the point of numbing, hence why we administer anesthesia when we are about to perform surgery on a patient in a hospital. If you’re not bothered, then consider you’re numb. Talk it out. Not just with anyone. Set yourself up to win. Being vulnerable is your greatest strength. Choose someone to talk to who honors you and what you have to speak about. A healthy mind leads a healthy life.
Do you check in on your physical well-being on a regular basis? Or just hope for the best? Or worse, do you say you don’t have the time for to go to the doctor or do checkups? Not having enough time to check in on your own physical well-being is indicative of a denial of what’s important to your own well-being. That denial of maintaining your physical health can be indicative of a deeper issue, mental or emotional. If you think that’s an extreme point of view, consider the extremist opinion of someone who holds off on maintaining their own health because of their self-imposed limits. None of these implications is bad. All are an opening for a new point of view, for insight, for a chance to change your behavior and begin self-care. Use this eye-opening moment as a pathway to your own well-being. If you haven’t seen a doctor in years, go see one now. It’s that simple.
Divine responsibility is not a term meant to overwhelm you, but it is meant to bring a precious regard to something you may be taking for granted:
You are precious. Spas are nice, wonderful in fact, but remember there is more to your own care than the “bells and whistles” of the luxe life. Self-care is a grounded everyday practice that can help you honor yourself and bring integrity to who you are and how you live your life.
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