The Self Care Paradox
Updated: Dec 4, 2021
As we enter the New Year of 2021 many of us are making self care resolutions. However, there’s an extremely crucial aspect about self care not often mentioned, an aspect necessary for sustainable well-being. I am referring to the deepening of discomfort that goes hand in hand with self care. At first this may seem contradictory; “What?! I’m practicing self care to feel better, and now you’re saying I may feel worse?!” Yes, that’s exactly what I am saying, and let me emphasize this is a good thing. I base this statement on over two decades of working holistically with clients, and on my own self care experience.
In general, we have the underlying belief that self care will somehow protect us from experiencing discomfort. But what I have learned is that self care is more of a portal to help us meet discomfort so that we become more whole.
Better self care deepens our relationship with all the parts of ourselves. Inevitably, wounds that were hidden will bubble up to the surface because now, we have the foundation to meet and move through our pain. At first, this can feel perplexing, but by shifting our perspective we can see discomfort as a guide to trust and learn from rather than something to avoid.
All too often when an old wound makes its way to the surface, we abandon our resolutions, doubt our methods, or search for something else; another method another strategy another approach - which essentially allows us to dstract from feeling the discomfort.
I’ll use weight loss as an example. When we embark on a weight loss program we change our food and exercise habits, yet we forget to make room for the unseen release of beliefs related to food or beliefs about succeeding. So as we lose weight we may experience feelings of joy, and we may also experience emotions and symptoms we didn’t expect, such as shame, grief, insomnia or headaches. Losing weight has many hidden meanings, and there are many memories stored in our physicality that are being released along with the physical weight itself. If we aren't aware of our holism, this releasing process can derail us. The same is true when we focus on a particular emotion like anxiety or anger. Both of these states are extremely exhausting and, at times, debilitating. Emotions are intricately connected to our thoughts and to the chemistry of our bodies. Through the self care portal, feelings of anxiety or anger lessen, and we experience feeling more calm. Then along with calmness other emotions often surface, such as boredom and depression. This is the self care paradox: self care is not a linear path to feeling better, it is a circuitous path of self healing - not comfortable nor easy, yet the gift is profound; the gift of appreciating being human.
Self care is also a privilege. It strengthens the clarity of who we really are by letting go of old beliefs, behaviours and relationships. When we realize we are not our labels, our titles, our emotions, our pain, our possessions or our achievements, we expand and we become more discerning. Our ego struggles with letting go of old identifications while our inner spirit thrives in their release.
So as you continue through your own self care portal with New Year’s resolutions, you may notice discomfort bubbling up. Take a few moments to inquire: What might the discomfort be showing me? Am I becoming discouraged? Am I searching for another technique? Be sure to seek additional support if needed and acknowledge your experience for what it is - an experience of being human.