The most difficult habit for some to form is adopting a practice of self-care. Caring for oneself is the beginning of transforming your emotional, spiritual, physical and mental health. Self-care is not limited to a warm bath or a night out with friends, it goes much deeper and may initially be difficult to grasp. Doesn’t the inner critic love to mess with one’s justification of the practice of self-care? As I’ve mentioned in past posts, I am a nurse and an educator. When I began exploring the theory and practice of self-care I was met with a great deal of resistance. It actually surprised me initially and then it didn’t.
Here are a few of the criticism sample for your reading pleasure:
“Why are you teaching students to care for themselves, you should be teaching them to care for their patients”?
“It is selfish for you to put yourself before others”.
“Caring for people is not professional”.
“Cut out this caring crap and get back to the real work at hand”.
I must admit it was tempting to listen to the critic, let’s face it the inner critic has been my loudest most obnoxious relationship to date. If you tend to be drawn to the task of caring for others and you don’t understand when the need to care for others comes from, it can be laden with heartache, misery, and martyrdom. “Let’s get everyone fixed, lickity split” and make the world a better place is a common mantra of the healer. With the healer’s flimsy boundaries, crappy self-care techniques and they want and need to fix everyone, they can become some of the most ornery folks known. Let’s investigate the core legends or stories around the root cause of the wounded healer.
The wounded healer is a term created by psychoanalyst Carl Jung. The wounded healer describes wounded healers as individuals who “must look after (their) own wounds but at the same time be prepared to heal the wounds of others.” The minister is one who wants to serve others. However, the minister is a wounded person.
You can not effectively care for and serve others unless you accept you are also wounded and must tend to these wounds so you do not harm others through your service.
Even if we don’t care for others professionally we still do care for people in our personal lives. Self-care now becomes non-negotiable if you hope to have healthy relationships and not run yourself into a nub.
The non-negotiable act of self-care must be practiced with regularity. Although Carl Jung has been credited for the term of wounded healer it also presents in Shamanic practices.
Many tribes believe that if a person falls ill; whether in mind, spirit or body, that an evil spirit has entered him. They believe that if bad luck befalls the entire tribe or land, it is the spirits that control this. They depend on the shaman to communicate with these spirits, to guide them and protect them. In order to truly understand suffering, one must also have suffered. Through trials and tribulation, we have the choice to grow and learn. The shaman makes his choice wisely and shares the lessons with those he works with to heal.
When one has truly suffered and found a path of healing through their suffering they may truly sit and hold space for another’s suffering. We know this as empathy and I believe it to be the greatest gift you can give yourself and another human being.
To honour and develop this gift can heal the collective consciousness. I would like to share some resources I have used for self-care.
Kristen Neff has put together a beautiful collection of self-care resources. https://self-compassion.org/resources-2/
The most basic practice in self-care comes with acknowledging how important the breath is. Breathing can anchor us in the moment of compassion for our selves and others. There are different types of breathing sequences that can interrupt our flight or fight response, help us to focus, center and align ourselves with the present moment.
I like Dr. Andrew Weil’s breathing techniques :https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/stress-anxiety/breathing-three-exercises/
There are many other resources and examples of how to practice conscious breathing.
I have recently been blessed with practicing with a yoga instructor who does a form of breathing in class called Kapalabhati breathing which is a type of pranayama breathing.
Whatever type of breathing you decide to do is up to you. Breathing is part of a wellness practice and self-care practice. If you are feeling triggered and are experiencing a surge of emotion that is overwhelming, STOP, notice how you are feeling and take a breath.
“Breath is the bridge that connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as a means to take hold of your mind again”…… Thich Nhat Hahn