Honoring Self

February 22, 2010

I’ve been thinking about self-care lately.  I have a number of busy clients, who cannot find the time to care for themselves…by that I mean give themselves time to appreciate and love themselves.  This may sound like a frivolous time-waster for someone who is climbing the corporate ladder or overcome with family responsibilities, but it actually is an important component to a balanced, healthy life.

I’ve been asking my friends how they incorporate self-care into their life.  Spas, massages, and exercise immediately come to mind.  I agree they are wonderful ways to care for oneself.   Other ways might include reading Shakespeare, hiking the Appalachian Trail, or buying a new dress or suit.  These activities can expand our knowledge of self, too. 

External Self-Care

Reading Shakespeare could introduce you to an expanded vocabulary or diverse facets of human behavior.  Hiking the Appalachian Trail could prove you have the stamina to achieve a certain goal or weather the elements, especially if you spend most of your time in an office.  Buying a new dress or suit can enhance your self image and even give you confidence when making a presentation before a formidable audience. 

Yes, these are all ways of taking care of yourself; however, they are external and temporal.  After awhile, you have to put Shakespeare down, the hike comes to an end, and the dress or suit goes out of style.  What if you switched your search for self-care from external to internal?

Internal Self-Care

You’ve heard the expression, “Wherever you go, there you are.”  Why is spending time with yourself such a difficult task?  I am not referring to being alone and occupying yourself with activities like cooking, reading, bathing or engaging in crafts.  I am referring to spending time getting to know yourself.  This is a deeper form of self-care that many of us resist doing. 

This deeper form of self-care could be meditation or journaling—giving yourself the quiet time to just be.  I know I resist both activities, but when I allow myself time to be with me, I feel more grounded, focused and clearer in my work and in the way I communicate with my friends, family and clients. 

Alert Yourself to Your Resistance

One of the weekly homework assignments I give to participants in my “Clutter Clearing is Spiritual Business!” class is to not watch television in the morning and also just before going to bed.  I got this idea when I took a class from my friend and teacher Rev. Charlette Manning.  She asked us to do the same and I surprised myself.  I pride myself for not watching much TV, but when presented with this assignment, I immediately resisted and became aware of my unconscious addiction to television-watching.

Why was I so resistant?  I believe I didn’t want to spend time with myself for fear of what I would find—whatever that may be.  Spending time with just me might conjure sad, unhappy memories or accentuate a feeling of aloneness, either of which could be unpleasant, unsavory, or maybe even scary.  What would happen if I let those feelings wash over me?   In a way they become exposed, no longer tucked inside me.  The more exposed they become, the less powerful they are.  In this process of releasing a piece of emotional clutter, I get to claim a part of myself that’s been overshadowed by it.

Self-Care = Less Clutter

Why then is it that people who have difficulty releasing their clutter also have difficulty spending time being with themselves?  It’s complicated.  From my perspective, clutter is an outer manifestation of what is happening on the inside (e.g., a jumble of disjointed, disparate thoughts).  How could there be time for meditation or journaling when I’ve got to workout, attend to a client, think about this problem, pay that bill, etc. 

What if for a moment I just stopped, sat down and took some deep breaths?  I might begin to ask myself what am I doing and to what end?  If I slowed down and spent time, let’s say 10 minutes a day, valuing myself and seeking peace of mind, I might be more motivated to address my clutter and create order in my life. 

If you are not used to meditating or taking time to be with yourself, it’s challenging to start.  I still struggle practicing it myself; however, when I remember the times I did meditate or did journal on a regular basis, I know this is my ticket to a clutter-less life both materially and spiritually.  I encourage you to do the same—give yourself the quiet time to get to know yourself.  You’ll end up making life-enhancing changes.  More importantly, by taking time to honor yourself, you’ll discover how wonderful you are.

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