Before we dive into this topic let me give you a little glimpse into my background.
I was a serious “people pleaser” for most of my life and now a recovering addict of the “please disease.” I would go above and beyond to help other people and make them happy because I was under the illusion that is where my significance came from.
My entire self esteem was based on how much I gave and what other people thought of me. I also had a hard time saying no, and to be quite honest, I still struggle with this from day to day.
Boundaries were something that was foreign to me and it was only through a traumatic illness that I learned how important they really are. I have also been a performer my whole life. My life was one big performance and if I didn’t get a standing ovation from my audience, praise and admiration from the people around me, I would slide into unhealthy thoughts of “not being good enough” and feeling unworthy.
I unknowingly gave all my inner power away to particular people around me and always looked outside for my own self worth. It took me about four years of constant inner work until I discovered all this about myself as most of it was lodged in my subconscious mind; the part of the mind we are not totally aware of and believe me there were some nasty self limiting beliefs and old programs running in me that where not serving me in anyway. I knew something had to change, quickly.
I looked at my work and what I was doing and I was in complete service—empowering others and holding space for healing all of those around me in every way I knew how. The problem was I forgot about one person in the whole equation: me. I was giving out so much of my own energy and not focusing on my personal needs and desires at all. I ended up completely exhausted run down, broken on every level and suffered traumatic loss that broke my heart. There had to be another way.
That is the first time I really thought about Self Care as an art form. It is something I have been sharing for years now, teaching people how to look after themselves and yet I still wasn’t truly nurturing myself on the level that my whole body, mind and soul deeply needed for repair and regeneration.
When I started to tune into this my whole life started to shift. I had to work through so many old belief patterns, such as, “put other people first,” “taking time out is selfish,” “you must work hard always to be a good person,” “keep everybody around you happy,” “keep going no matter what,” “it’s my responsibility to heal the world,” just to name a few.
I had to go deep into my subconscious mind and also re-wire parts of my biochemical makeup in my physical body to bring about change and it was then I realized I actually have no idea how to take care of myself.
What I learned through this whole process of self-care goes far beyond booking a massage and having a green juice. It is complete devotion and service to your mind, body and spirit. It is nourishing yourself from a cellular physical level all the way up to spirit on a daily basis, acknowledging the mind, body and spiritual aspects of yourself.
It is about refueling your tank day in and day out to keep your vital force high, your connection to your inner wisdom strong and your cells healthy in every way.
I always felt as though I was doing Spirit/God’s work through service to others and now I realize the entire picture; if you really want to serve Spirit/God then serve yourself. It is the only way as the healthier, stronger, balanced and aligned you are, the more you have to give to others.
It must start with you.
Here are 5 ways to start on your self love program today;
1. Identify any old beliefs or thoughts you have that are blocking you from truly taking care of yourself. For example, “I don’t have enough time,” “I don’t deserve it,” “I don’t know how,” “who will look after the kids,” and my old personal favorite: “that can wait for later.”
2. Get to know what really fills up your “tank.” What makes you feel energised, alive and inspired? It could be surfing, yoga, cooking, gardening, painting, dancing etc. Find activities that make nourish you with energy and put them into your schedule as much as possible.
3. Breathe. Yes that’s right, just breathe. Most people use only 1/3 of their lung capacity to breathe which is called thoracic breathing and it doesn’t allow much oxygen to enter the cells of our bodies as the breath is too shallow and fast. Taking 10 slow, deep, long breaths will help to calm down the nervous system and relax the tissues of your body. If you do this several times a day your body has the ability to increase its oxygen capacity, which assists rejuvenation on a cellular level. Best of all its free, quick and we all know how to do it.
4. Rest. Resting when you need to is not a sign of weakness nor is it a selfish practice. It is a sign of self-respect and self-love. Resting when you need to allows your body to restore itself leading to better performance, increased mental capacity and an invigorating boost in energy levels. Give yourself permission to rest when you need it, it becomes a wonderful healing gift that you can give yourself and you will benefit in so many ways.
5. Learn to say no. This is a big one and something most of us are not very good at. We are often under the illusion that the more we do, the fuller our schedules and the more we give of ourselves to others the better person we are. This thinking is not only false but can potentially and quickly drive us into exhaustion.
Learning to say, “No” is also a form of self-love and self respect because it provides you with appropriate boundaries that you need to take care of yourself. When you become tired, worn out and overworked you are no good to anybody, including yourself.
Learning to say no to things that do not serve your best interests in that moment enables you to protect your own energy reserves and therefore have more to give to yourself and all of those around you in the appropriate moment. You feel better and everyone around you gets to experience a healthy energized version of you.
Please start your loving self care practice today. The world needs people that are fully aligned, balanced, happy, healthy, standing strong in their own power and realizing their own self worth. Believe it or not, there is no one just like you on this planet, so you have to take extra special care of yourself because you deserve it.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Travis May