A friend shared this link with me today, “We can’t survive in a state of constant agitation.” This paragraph is particularly good:
“Yes, actions are important; they are absolutely essential, in fact. But I don’t believe we can survive for long in a state of constant agitation. Our bodies and hearts need rest to replenish stores of energy. This is something best done from a place of love.”
This is the core, I think, of self-care, acting out of love for yourself. Treating yourself as you would a loved one – with kindness, compassion, and honesty. I know this is sounds new-agey to some, and crunchy-granola to others, but ask yourself this: Why shouldn’t you treat yourself this way? If self-love really means treating yourself in this manner, and the reason for doing so is to improve your life, what exactly is the problem?
I never understood this previously. It never occurred to me to treat myself halfway well. That’s why anger became lifestyle and stress became habit. I went on day by day, functioning, sometimes well, but more often than not, it was just good enough. I also didn’t enjoy life the way I should have. I loved my family, I loved my job, but life, perhaps not so much.
As I’ve written before, breathing helps. Counting single breaths, finding the moment, and remaining there, makes a difference and leads to patience. Impatience is costly as it leaves one unsatisfied. All of this is related to agitation and reversing it. Stress, anger, impatience, are just ways to become and remain agitated. Remove the sources of agitation, if you can, change the responses to stress, and living becomes a little easier. If you can’t remove the agitation, try to reduce the amount of time it crosses into your life.
I have had a number of friends and family members dealing with addiction over the years. Sometimes it was them, their spouse, or other family member. Regardless of who it was with the problem, one of the issues we faced is “dwelling.” In recovery from addiction there is challenge enough for the person with the addiction to deal with the yen, the desire, for the substance or behavior at the source of the problem. In recovery, and I have seen this also with PTSD, dwelling on past behaviors and failures becomes an issue. I think though it is about more than forgiveness of self or others, that’s hard enough. It is instead about moving on and living in the current moment.
This is hard.
You can dwell on the past all you want, but it is the past. It’s over. The only way you can change it is to change the remembered narrative. You can rewrite your memory. Make yourself the hero, or at least remove the blame from yourself. Of course, doing so is contrary to your best interests. It is fundamentally dishonest with one’s self and that just creates more problems on down the road. Somehow, you simply have to find a way to move on, while maintaining an honest recollection that allows your continued growth and development.
So, I think once you have learned to accept yourself and your history, and learn to love yourself as you are – a flawed individual seeking personal growth and development, you can learn to take better care of yourself. Self-care is critical and when done well, makes all these other things easier. You know you are engaging in good self-care when breathing becomes an act of love instead of a mere act of survival.