What does self care have to do with well being?

11 months ago

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For the last few years I have been more mindful to include self care into my weekly routine. It wasn’t something I paid much attention to, in the past. However, it is a very necessary part of my weekly routine. Previously, I would mainly focus on what I lacked and could not do in my life. This type of thinking fuelled my insecurities and low self esteem. On the outside, my life was filled with wonderful achievements that I accomplished at the early age of ten when I became a top athlete and danced at my local school. My desire to dance led me to a wonderful career as a professional dancer and I accomplished more than I could ever dream. My good fortunes included studying dance in London; living in New York; working in multiple Contemporary Dance companies; performing as a Ballet dancer; dancing in the The Lion King, on Broadway; working as an Associate Choreographer for Disney Theatrical Productions and more. However, none of my pursuits seemed to puncture through my lack of belief in my myself. No matter how much I achieved, I didn’t feel good enough.

The dissatisfaction I felt toward my life manifested in ways such as neglecting my own needs, people pleasing and overworking. My self-defeating thoughts began to form during my early years and predominately stemmed from me not liking myself and justifying my relationships by overcompensating. The thoughts were not conscious, however, they were out of control. The predominant inner dialogue was ‘I’m not good enough’. I had very little faith in myself and even though people could rely on me, I would let my self down, consistently and disregarded my personal needs and well being. I rarely went on holiday, ignored signs of any ill health and overextended myself. I would literally need to be ill in bed before I took a day off from work. I would go out of my way to help others but never asked for help. In addition, I found it difficult to express what was occurring in my life and hid my hurt underneath my facade, in order to keep up appearances.

It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with stage 2 Breast Cancer that I came to the realisation that I was living in a way that was not sustainable. I could no longer ignore the mistreatment I gave myself and made a decision to change. My self abuse was so ingrained within me that I had to receive help in the form of counselling. Thankfully, I recognised that I could not do this alone. It would be impossible to heal the many years of my own ill-treatment without someone to put things in perspective. It was one of the best things I could have done for myself. One of the main lessons I learned during my counselling sessions was how harsh I was being to myself. I would never disrespect or mistreat another person, yet I did so to myself. In fact, recognising my negative inner dialogue helped me to understanding my need to be here for me, as well as others. I need to include me in the picture when making plans.

I still love helping people and I do this through the offering the following online services:

• Dance for Well Being Classes
• Body Confidence Workshops
• Body-Shaming Workshops and Talk
• Physical Activity seminars

Self care has taught me to look after my needs so that I can take better care of others. I had to learn this the hard way, which I now practice on a regular basis and I can see how much it has improved my well being. Dr Gabor Mate’s book “When The Body Says No” shares research he found about Cancer patients. He states that a common thread in each case was their lack of attention to their own needs. In my case this is certainly true. I really have to make a conscious effort to acknowledge and express my needs without feeling guilt. It isn’t selfish to take care of yourself in the midst of others needing your attention. It’s about balancing your time and energy.

So what does Self Care mean for you? Do you see self care as a practice that can be done mindfully? The practice may include having more self awareness; being self loving; self accepting; self reassuring; having courage to be yourself in every situation; self trusting; believing in yourself when others doubt you, and self encouraging. The main aim is to remain curious in the process, as you continue to discover the best and deepest parts of yourself while caring for the parts that are wounded and require healing.

If you want to connect and discuss more about your self care practice email me at info@bebodyaware.co.uk.