by Keli Dean
We hear a lot about self-care and selflove these days, but what do those things really mean and how do they relate to living in today’s world?
Most people have the experience of thinking one thing and doing another, even when they aren’t doing so intentionally. Many of us often ignore, neglect and forget ourselves in order to give to others and fulfill daily responsibilities to work, family and friends. When we feel “stuck” we have become splintered from our wholeness and tend to search for anything to fill the hollowness we are feeling. The discomfort felt in life—the separation, the rejection, the alienation and the sense that we are not enough—is because we are living in inner conflict, the space between our two selves, separate from our own heart; the mind/body split. The vulnerability we find in this space is what breaks down our barricades, our suffering and our neurosis.
What we look to get from others is fundamentally our own work. What happens when you say to yourself, “I love you. I am listening” while giving yourself a big hug? Try it out. The brain cannot tell the difference between your own arms and someone else’s. So this hug provides a boost in oxytocin, which lowers the body’s defenses and increases a sense of well-being.
Some of the most important factors in healing are returning to choice and consent, allowing the self to discover what one likes and enjoys, while mending the self-blame and guilt that often permeates our lives. Changing internal dialogs and habitual patterns are essential for getting unstuck, so start noticing what is going on in the mind whenever facing a difficulty. Changing patterns in the brain and body can begin with simple ways of doing things a little differently. Try taking a new route home every day, wash the dishes with the non-dominant hand, set the alarm for three minutes prior to what it is set for now and use those three extra minutes to enjoy morning coffee while sitting outside instead of in the car on the way to work. Everyone has the choice to make changes in life.
Self-care comes in many forms. It can start with health care appointments and pedicures, time out with friends and camping with the family. Deeper self-care comes when we attend to body and mind with things like sufficient hydration, appropriate sleep patterns, a healthy diet, movement and exercise, attention to how we are breathing throughout the day, making time for solitude, introducing or reintroducing spirituality into our lives, spending time in nature and treating ourselves with dignity and acknowledging our successes— no matter how small they seem. Self-care is breathing deeply, having a sense of wonder and treasuring life itself. It’s about balance, resiliency and taking appropriate action.
With daily practice and additional support from friends and a coach or therapist, everyone can learn to give oneself the care and love that he or she has been craving. What once felt empty begins to fill up. The divide that was created begins to get stitched up. We begin to know who we are, our own values and needs, our own beliefs and we can begin owning them. We step into our whole version of the self, letting the self-love journey begin.
Once we encounter self-love, we can feel a sense of confidence in our capacity to problem-solve; we become unwilling to remain in extremely unhappy and stressful situations; we are able to give and receive support from friends and family; we don’t attach our identity to success or failure; we become willing to experiment and make mistakes; we are able to tolerate frustration in the interest of taking on new challenges; we begin to possess a sense of humor and lightheartedness; and we can demonstrate profound care and concern for the well-being of all life. We all have the capability to The One we’ve been waiting for.
Keli Dean is a personal development coach with High Speed Evolution, utilizing science and evolutionary design to create rapid sustainable change and Integrated Intelligence. For more information, visit ReSparkYourSelf.com .