Most people agree that self-care is pretty important, right?
Also, most people agree (at least in theory) that they are more efficient, kind, effective, and loving when they are regularly doing the things that nourish and support them.
What’s stopping us from making self-care our number one priority?
I have an answer. You may not like it. Here it is:
Self-Care is scary.
Whenever we set about learning something new, things come up. Perhaps excitement. Maybe anxiety. Perhaps both?
That is normal. And, to be expected.
When beginning to learn about what we need in order to feel more connected and whole… well, multiply those emotions by a million and then add in all sorts of other craziness.
Welcome to the Dark Side
The way I approach self-care with my students, clients and with myself, involves slowing down, getting mindful and really learning how to tune in and listen to your body.
When you begin to do this, unexpected things happen. Things that have been avoided, repressed or ignored begin to come forward, demanding time, love and attention.
The type of things that come forward depends on who you are, how you live your life and, of course, your particular patterns.
For instance, if you are a super busy person who just pushes through the day and doesn’t pay any attention to your body, physical pain may be what shows up first.
Four or five years ago…
I was pretty in touch with my physical body. Pretty good at listening to it and taking appropriate self-care measures when, for instance, my low back was tight or my knees were hurting.
I didn’t try to push through the pain. I met and interacted with the pain using any of the awesome Ortho-Bionomy self-care techniques I had at my fingertips.
However, I was absolutely not in touch with my emotions. I was the expert of all experts at repressing my emotions and appearing gracious, calm and stoic no matter my actual internal state.
Simultaneously, I was committed to self-care and one day, some dam deep inside me broke and all the emotions I’d been repressing made themselves known to me… all at the same time.
Unfortunately, back then, I didn’t have the skills or tools to meet that type of pain (I do now) and I was completely overwhelmed. For two years.
So, yes, physical pain, repressed emotions, old memories, etc can all begin to surface.
In my Self-Care Madness class, I compare self-care to going on an adventure. An adventure into ourselves. Now, before you roll your eyes and click away, hear me out.
Self-Care as an Adventure???
Yes. When we commit to doing any thing self-care related, especially some on-going course or practice, we embark on an adventure.
We don’t really know what we are going to encounter.
We have this sense of what we may like to get out of our adventure – perhaps things like a deeper connection with ourselves or a new understanding of ourselves and what’s important to us.
Perhaps a re-framing of our priorities. Hopefully, more of a sense of balance and stability in our lives.
All great things. Yes?
While it is perfectly normal (and expected really) to just think about all the rewards of a deeper self-care practice, we often totally overlook the danger and risk involved.
Thus the Adventure.
For you see, all proper adventures contain certain elements. The elements of fun, excitement, surprise, the allure of something desirable to be gained… all that, yes.
And also, the elements of risk. And danger.
The possibility of cold, dark nights and moments of terror and aloneness. The possibility of failure and things ending up worse than before you began.
It’s quite normal and natural that we don’t think about these elements. Or, if they do cross our minds, that we don’t think about them too deeply.
Otherwise, why would we even begin? It’s much easier and more fun to think about self-care in terms of nourishment, happiness, spas and tropical island vacations.
Self-care, however, really *is* more akin to going on an Adventure. An Adventure with an unknown outcome.
There are moments of great reward – moments when we are blessed with insights into ourselves and a sense of deep connection, flow, ease and balance.
And, there are moments of overwhelm, terror and pain.
The importance of Allies…
Any great adventurer has Allies – people, things, resources, to aid them on their quest.
Think of Harry Potter, for instance. He has Ron and Hermione, his magic wand and his invisibility cloak as Allies, just to name a few.
Without Allies, when we hit the dangerous part of our self-care adventure, we truly are alone. We’ll likely survive, but at what cost?
With Allies, the dangerous, scary parts of the adventure can serve to connect us deeper to ourselves and reveal both:
- what’s missing in our lives and
- what’s truly important to us.
Who or what are you Allies?
In our workshop, I teach specific skills (techniques) as well as create a space where it is safe to explore and discover personal Allies.
For you, if helpful, make a list of people or techniques you can turn to when you are in one of the dark and dangerous parts of your self-care adventure.
The Other Side of Dark.
So, if self-care is so fraught with potential danger and pain, what’s the point?
Basically, committing to self-care acts as a magic wand that illuminates all the dark, scary parts in us that we’ve been avoiding. The parts of us that keep us in patterns of stress, tension and disconnection from ourselves and others.
Embarking on the Adventure of Self-Care, while it can be dangerous and painful, also brings us closer to ourselves. Every time we meet the pain and the terror with our love and attention, we grow more whole.
And, ultimately, our initial desires of being more connected, more loving, kind, and effective actually are realized.
You’re thoughts, stories, comments are adored and appreciated. As are hellos. 🙂