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. 🙂
This is brilliant. It really is.
Your insights on patterns are really intriguing. I wish I had been able to join your self-care class…but I was too busy (Mondays are almost always booked for me.) Ah, the irony. Thank you for your amazing newsletter, your candor and your enthusiasm. You rock.
In my mind I’m conjuring an image combining Darth Vader and a self-help guru (perhaps some beads or a flowing robe). Trust me it’s hilarious!
What spoke most to me was the importance of allies (not to be confused with owl eyes, of course). When I stopped trying to do everything all by myself. When I stopped holding on tightly and secretively to my problems, and my pain, and my inadequacies and decided (as a last resort) to show them to the world—no one stomped on them, or called me stupid. In fact just the opposite.
I now have new friends who can relate to what I’m going through as a small business owner, and closer relationships with my (old) friends and family.
My foundation went from me standing on one tip-toe hanging on for dear life, to me relaxing in the support-hammock that I’ve created for myself. Knowing this I rededicate myself to this mission every day and keep opening the doors that scare me. Yup, I use the dark side for my personal gain. Vader would be proud.
(and thanks to you for helping me get there)
Hey sweetie! Always a pleasure to see you here!
Hi Liz 🙂
I so appreciate your comment. Thank you. And, I’d love to have you join one of my workshops. Stay tuned! I hope to announce another series and perhaps a full one-day self-care class soon.
Yes! Yes, yes, yes, to everything you said. Support-hammock (I want one), allies (of course, Owl Eyes *is* an Ally), opening the scary doors, and not trying to do everything alone.
I’m so happy you are here… experiencing the benefits of stepping through the dark side!
A. Mancuso says
Hello! You’re right on. 🙂
I’ve been investing myself in self-analysis and self-care for the past… ten years. (Holy wow, that long?) It’s a natural evolution of my curiosity in how-things-work and my desire for awesomeness (happiness, comfort, growth, the usual).
And sometimes, I have been cast into dark pits by what I discover. But even those terrifying depths give me new experiences and new skills in dealing with darkness and in climbing back out.
I’ve used the terms ‘mountains’ and ‘canyons’ more times than I can count in referring to this particular path I walk. I’m a hiker with dusty boots and a well-worn backpack, and sometimes the wind is brisk and the sun kind, and sometimes it’s a total hailstorm.
WOW Larisa – so perfectly worded!! Healing for others is so easy because you don’t have to be responsible for the healing – the client is! This frees you up to be the facilitator.
However, when you facilitate yourself and add the element of responsibility for yourself – well, that is a whole different ball of wax, as discussed well here!
Thank you for this post, it is great to see other healers see this too – “Heal thyself” really is the hardest thing we can do!
I’ve been noticing a side-effect from the self care as you teach it…I become a lot more productive. Can’t quite explain it, but it’s like part of me that believes I’ll fail or should quit gets the attention it’s craving, and I spend the next few days doing productive things and watching my life flow a little more easily.
Taking a little safari into the dark side now and again seems to serve to make the light a whole lot brighter. I love it, and thank you for sharing your work with the world. I promise you, we out here appreciate it.
Hey A! I love your comment. For me, too, my external adventures tend to involve mountains and canyons and wind and sun and hail…
“But even those terrifying depths give me new experiences and new skills in dealing with darkness and in climbing back out.”
Exactly! So perfectly described. Thank you!
Hmm… ‘facilitating yourself’ that’s an interesting way of looking at self-care. I think I like it. 🙂 Nice to see you here!
Positive side effects! Yay! Isn’t it fascinating how going on self-care adventures opens the door to all sorts of unexpected awesomeness in the real world? I love it.
Andrew Lightheart says
I think you’re right.
The lack of self-care serves a purpose as emotional anaesthetic. Starting to care means we start to Feel Stuff.
(Been encountering this recently…)
So sorry for the Ow. Feeling Stuff is so not easy.
And, at the same time, I’m totally thrilled whenever I hear that people (you!) *are* taking care of themselves enough to feel stuff. Makes my heart all happy. 🙂
So, yes, both sympathy and celebration coming your way.