Self Care, Self Love, And Am I Doing This Right?
The more I look inwards and explore the textures of my heart, body and mind the more clear it becomes that, what feels good and works for me is utterly unique and incomparable to what feels good, ‘right’ and fitting for another. And yet, for so long there have been innumerable ways in which I have taken a ‘health and wellbeing’ one-size-fits-all blueprint and tried to assimilate it into and onto my own ‘system’:
- Years going to the gym and comparing my performance to others and forcing myself to do classes because they were on trend or supposed to ‘fix’ me
- A roller coaster of detrimental diets and nutritional experimentation
- Patterns of living and schedules that make me miserable but are supposed to be ‘productivity boosting’
- Media and content (social channels; literature; cinema; music etc.) I’ve consumed because it’s cool or socially expected or shows me how be acceptable or ‘normal’
- Jobs I’ve said yes to because it would be ‘good for my Resume’
The list is endless and I’m sure you get a sense of how many aspects of our lives can so easily and insidiously be co-opted for what ‘the experts’ say is best, be that a teacher, doctor, world class researcher, parent, partner, or the old wives tales of your matrilineal heritage.
I’m certainly not to saying that these informations and wisdoms are redundant or worthless. What I am wanting to highlight is that the only true way to find your own expression of health and wellbeing, is to uncover it for yourself. In doing so, you'll be stepping firmly into empowered self-knowledge, and self-knowledge is the ideal foundation required for self-loving choices which ultimately underpin your unique self-care recipe.
The ‘How’ of achieving your own self-knowledge and wisdom is often the challenge and does initially require care and consideration. But it is - absolutely - achievable. Making this magic happen is possible when we allow for an intentional, mindful awareness that makes space for our naturally arising physical and emotional responses. And when we allow the mind to take a back seat, the body can take the wheel and confidently and directly lead you to the answers.
The practice I use to uncover the true and ‘right’ answer for me is called Feel My Way. To start I simply sit (or lay!) with question in quiet contemplation or meditation for a few minutes. I then hold the idea in my thoughts and simple allow the feelings or sensations to naturally arise in my body. This practice will feel a little weird and foreign to begin, but I promise you it is well worth the patience required to get the hang of it, and the jewels of wisdom that will emerge.
Here's an example of how you can apply the Feel My Way practice to your decision making: you’ve been considering enrolling in a course or class which sounds great, but there are a few complications like transport, clashing dates, or expenses which are making your decision uncertain. So with with this question clearly held in mind and body, ask yourself, How am I going to feel if say yes?. Now, quietly and without judgement, observe the body’s response.
What sensations can you notice? Do you feel good, expansive or light? Does it feel like your body is responding with sensations you would otherwise associate with ‘joy’? To discern the difference between these positive and affirmative sensations in the body, you can do a quick test and ask those questions of yourself of another outcome or scenario that bring you great joy and feelings of comfort and happiness. In this instance you are comparing like, with like.
If you want to doubly check, you can even explore bodily sensations that might arise with an experience or idea that would be clearly negative or restrictive for you. The sensations of the body in this instance will likely feel like, discomfort; tension; constriction; heaviness; and feels you associate with doubt.
You can apply this practice to literally any decision making opportunity. Start super simple, and use it to decide on breakfast options, fitness classes, social events and eventually you will be an expert at bigger things like jobs, travel and relationships.
Going into the body and developing this self-wisdom practice has been an incredibly important part of my self-love growth. It has helped me to identify a confident and aligned felt language for what is undeniably ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ for my heart, body and mind.
And truthfully, navigating and developing your own self-love language is the most sustainable and empowered self-care commitment you can make. This has been my most important self-love learning, and I truly hope it helps you too.