Updated: Sep 13, 2019
Self care is such a theoretically simple and basic concept, yet many of us struggle well into our adult life to make choices that align with supporting our needs healthily.
When I started practicing yoga in 2008, for the first time in my life, I was telling my self "I love you". It was that moment that I was introduced to the concept of self care and self love and asking myself what I needed. Not paying attention to the mat next to me or the teacher at the front of the room or the demands of my job waiting on my phone in the pocket of my jacket in the other room. "What do I need?"... I learned how to start speaking kindly to myself, how to observe my thoughts and laugh at them, to be thankful for my body and my life, how to attempt to retrain my brain towards health. Simple but immensely difficult things.
A deeply painful relationship allowed me to see first hand how destructive it is to live in avoidance. Whether it is yourself or a loved one, it is agonizing to be caught in a life style of depression, emotional and physical abuse (self or inflicted by another). In so many ways it can feel like we are married to our own torture and the images of a dark world. Sometimes it take many tears, but only you can make the choice to grow toward being better. I have personally decided, that is not how I want to choose to live my life, every day waking up to choose thankfulness and to see the light.
Inside each and every human there is a sources of internal guidance and intuition. It is that the little voice that nags at the back of your mind or that feeling in your gut. I think that each persons journey with self care starts with learning to listen to that intuitive guidance. Tapping into that subconscious understanding of what is needed and important for that individual is the root to creating a self care practice and life that is fulfilling. The more we subvert that inner teacher, the more physical and emotional issues we encounter. It is difficult to differentiate the voices of our inner teachers and of our logical brain. Especially in our american culture, we are taught to value the logical brain over the intuitive brain and thus many people spend a great deal of time and money unlearning this mindset later in life. The more you can live your life in congruence with your intuition, the more it helps minimize issues encountered because you can call on your strong guidance center and trust it to not mislead you.
Another way of looking at developing trust in your intuition, is making choice in line with your authentic self. Authenticity is living life rooted in honesty and genuine interaction and it is a deeply important part of the journey. When someone asks “how are you?” instead of just answering with a generic response, I tell them how I actually am. When someone invites me to do something, I check in and see if I truly want to do it. I say no when I need to. I say yes when it feels good in my soul. I speak with honesty and try to make sure the intention is not hurtful. This aspect of authenticity is tricky because communicating from an honest place can be misinterpreted and usually requires stronger communication techniques such as non violent communication and conflict resolution strategies. But I have found that if I root my behavior in being authentic to myself, I am rarely led astray because I am doing what I need to, when I need to and taking care of myself and others with compassion to the wake that I leave around me. I have also found that when I communicate and behave from this source, it tends to take care of the other persons needs intrinsically.
A lot of the trick in growing up is learning to ask “ What do I need?”, learning to listen and following through with intuition to maintain a more stable human operating system. Life is a process of learning and growing but it is not fool proof and mistakes will be made. With each incident one can learn about how to do better the next time around. An attitude of continual growth and gratitude are pivotal in supporting yourself to move through this process of being human gracefully.
oh and dont forget to breathe!