Recently I got a question from a person that I am working with in therapy, asking me to explain what I meant with self-care. I loved that question, because “self-care” is thrown around all the time. I even googled it and there were lots of these bullet point lists of what self-care is. As if, just do it!
If it only was that easy!
My story of self-care is ongoing I think, but the more I become embodied the easier it gets and I notice quicker when I have abandoned myself or when I am punishing myself. A number of years ago, self-care, was just an intellectual concept to me, I would even say, there were a few drops of disgust in there, with the thought of self-care.
It was something I thought I didn’t need, but as I do, I reflected and there was another part of me that realised that it was not that I didn’t need it, it was that I didn’t know how to care for myself and that I didn’t think that I was worth it. Why not I was wondering?
I could see other people caring for themselves, or so it seemed. In time I started seeing, that what I did was something else. I would shut off, by eating, drinking, social media, complaining and pushing/punishing myself.
Then a number of years ago I woke up to my life, and realised how little I was enjoying it and how hard it was for me to feel contentment, even though I had a good life. The desperation was powerful and I felt that this cannot be it. There has to be something more.
I hade a coach, Jacob Sokol, and he said: “go dance” (this is the short version) so I went to dance, conscious dance, and I didn’t stop. The more I danced the more I embodied me, myself, my emotions and stories, and layers would peels off, layer upon layers, but this is not a story about dancing this is about become SAFE and EMBODIED.
In arriving in my body I also started to realise the destructive relationship that I had with myself and my body, critical, unsatisfied, needing it/me to change to be ok and loveable. My way of relating to myself was a threat to my being, it was an internal attack, it is hard to feel SAFE when one feels under attack, whether it is from the outside or inside. It is the same system that activates us to mobilise us to try to get control. Essentially, in large parts of my life I felt unsafe, and most of my life was concerned about gaining control. Hmmm…
Realising these powerful stories, my life has radically changed. I realised that if I truly cared about myself I would make so many different choices. I make this sound fast and easy, it wasn’t. It was hard and caused a lot inner turmoil and chaos.
In the chaos when everything was untethered, I could start discovering a new relationship with my body and realising how it contains so much for me, my emotions and nervous system, and many more things. It is through my body that I can know what I need, it tells me what care I need, if it is movement, play, stillness, nutrition or connection, or a combination.
I do have a rhythm to my days where I have movement and stillness planed in, I schedule calls and meetings with people I truly feel connected with, I do my very best to listen to what my body needs to be fed. There is more space, space to paus, space to let life happen, space to watch, space to go slow.
I shed the unnecessary, that stuff that wastes energy and time. I have even asked for a kick-ass job that lets me prioritise my life, rather than work. Work, is to be honest PLAY for me, but more than anything the internal dialogue is kinder, gentler and wiser.
Then something happens like I get sick, the kids get sick, or something else rattles me, and here comes the most important part, I practice just seeing this as a part of life, and I can reconnect with what I need and flow from there. An interesting exercise is to notice when self-care actually becomes a way of hiding from our lives, or another way of punishing ourselves. Like, self-self-care gone rogue. This could be another post!
Discovering a SAFE and loving relationship with my body, and deeply living in my body has allowed for self-care to be an essential part of life and I have made it to my own it bring me close to me and to the people that I deeply care about.
Let me know how I can support you!