A topic revisited…..
This is something that means very different things to different people and manifests differently just as much.
I have heard friends speak about wanting to put more attention towards this and yet it becomes elusive for them. It’s clear that the desire for ‘self care’ tools is strong so why does it seem to evade us?
As I ask these questions I look within myself for as many perspectives as possible in the complexity of being human. I untether my fixed thinking and allow myself to get a broader view from many angles.
Each of us has our own individualized range of personal (and conditioned) perspectives. They can be simultaneously our blessing and challenge. Our unique conditioning is what allows each of us to discover our own particular insights and teachings in the world.
This discovery comes from personal reflection, questioning and being curious about one self.
What works for one person may or may not work for all. We can certainly be inspired by what others discover but I believe it is ultimately a personal journey of the individual to reflect and ask questions. It is amazing to be motivated by things and people outside of us but to remember that the spark of this inspiration is coming from within us. We could not see, feel or realize any of it if it weren’t first inside of us.
I mention this because I feel that many people detach from their insights of personal growth, giving it away to something/someone outside of them. It seems easier to assign wisdom to anything other than our selves. This balance is critical to me on the path of self-care.
In many ways, personal reflection and awareness can sound so simple in print but can be a bit more complicated to embody and integrate. It asks us to touch upon and inquire in areas that are not necessarily our ‘comfort’ zone. It can immerse you in vulnerability and places of uncertainty.
I believe a key companion to accompany personal reflection/awareness is an abundant dose of authentic compassion or non-judgment. It’s not confusing to me why many of our vulnerable or uncertain parts might not want to reveal themselves if they think they’re going to be beat up, invalidated or criticized.
We need to be able to witness and hold ourselves with deep respect, reverence and love for all that we are…..every part of us…..right now…..not some ideal in the future. Right now, this breath, with all the blessings and challenges that are part of us.
Perhaps now I might re-focus towards the practical.
It’s all fine and good to talk about loving oneself but sometimes all the talk keeps it a bit intangible. I think when it comes to the details of self care we all find those foggy places and are not quite sure what the next step might be. More often than not we can be inspired by something we heard or read….. but without practical tools it remains this lofty goal or a cozy notion for ‘some day in the future when I am an evolved person’.
My sense is that we are that evolved person right now and much of what we need is within us this very moment. Like riding a bike….we have the tools we need but we have to practice and get the feel for it.
As I have said before, I think what ends up serving the individual on their journey of self-care (aka: self love) will be ongoing and uniquely their own creation. Each of us has our own learning curves, our triggers and different needs. Discovering more about all of them can help you create tools for shifting your old patterns….in particular, patterns that limit your capacity for self-care. Only you can do this level of personal questioning and discovery.
I thought I might share a few tools that work for me and perhaps you might get sparked or inspired to improvise with them and create for yourself…….
-I ask questions…….
For self-care I ask myself if a situation, person or pattern nourishes me. Then, I listen with a soft heart of non-judgment.
The listening is equally as important as the asking in this.
I also speak to myself as a ‘tribe (see my other post about ‘inner tribe’), acknowledging that I have different aspects of myself that show up with varied opinions and needs at different times.
I compassionately listen to the diverse voices that sometimes emerge and simply honor and respect them …without judgment. (You might be surprised what you can learn when you listen without pre-conceived ideas of ‘right and wrong’)
The more I learn about the needs of these different parts I slowly gain insight about my personal behaviors and habits.
As we get to know ourselves more……we realize that one size does not always fit all. Through our self-awareness that comes from questioning, trial and error…… we can understand why some tools work for us while others don’t. We can let go of comparisons and make choices based on personal wisdom and our own unique needs.
I question, listen without judgment and allow myself to gain insight into how I personally function so I can create effective new tools and technique based on this insight.
-I make lists and observe
Instead of trying to figure it all out ……I simply make a list of objective observations.
This might look like:
~Tightening in chest
~Rapid fire thoughts
~Sense of overwhelm
~Need to distract
~Swelling of anger
~Feeling of insecurity
Nine times out of ten there are all sorts of indicators or re-occurring behaviors that accompany periods of lacking self-care. Many of these are entrenched or learned and have yet to be interrupted.
I simply make the list and leave it until later.
Then when I am not immersed in the feelings/sensations I can connect to things on the list with curiosity.
This will then lead me back to asking simple questions and listening to what follows.
This simple act of listing helps me observe objectively. From there insights can emerge.
It is only through the guide of personal awareness that I am able to unwind the habits that deplete me. Lists teach me to be an engaged observer who is my own best ally.
-When steeped in emotions….
Try to notice the emotion and pause….create a little space.
Remind yourself that what you are feeling is just a moment in time and let it keep moving. Try not to let it get stuck or frozen. Every moment is completely fresh and new. Try thinking of each moment as un-fabricated. Next, look at the ‘entanglement’ and say to yourself ‘there is nothing wrong here’….and notice how that feels….observe whatever thoughts or feelings that follow.
Relax your grip on the moment…..relax the storyline and allow yourself to breathe back into open space inside. Open space without storyline can sometimes be threatening to the habitual pattern so it’s not always simple to manifest. There are many attachments to the image of ‘me’ …….looking and being a ‘right’ way and retreating into this familiar version of self can feel more secure than the wide open space. Space is threatening because there is nothing to hold onto or attach to there.
Play with these….and play with your own imagination and perceptions.
(I sometimes think we underestimate the role of imagination in our own self-discovery. It is a powerful ally when we let it be.)
Perhaps something in these tools might assist you on your discovery of learning yourself….wide-open.
……loving oneself without conditions and judgment IS self-care…..
Thanks for visiting!