Allowing our emotions is fundamental to our practice of self-care.
Our emotions can lead us inside, make us more attentive to our inner world, more sensitive to our feelings and perceptions. Learning to understand the language of our feelings is a great skill to have - it makes us more intimate with ourselves, and therefore, more intimate with others. Its a prerequisite for self-compassion actually.
How can we have self-compassion when we are not in touch with our own suffering?
And here, I’d like to reframe the concept of suffering. Suffering can be as subtle as a sense of discontent with ourselves and our perception of reality in the present moment. A nagging feeling of “things are somehow not quite right in this moment”, which yields a compulsive + unconscious urge to make things better - to fix things - because we perceive this moment as inherently inadequate. The perpetual cycle of avoiding suffering and seeking pleasure becomes inevitable.
When we take a moment to stop what we’re doing, become attentive to our feelings, feel our feelings in the body, breathe deeply, question our mode of perception, drop into our body some more, ask ourselves “what can I do in this moment to be a little more at ease?” - we habituate the state of being.
Self-care starts with us becoming more attuned to our inner world. It starts with us caring about our present condition and taking responsibility for our own happiness and wellbeing. When we are not well and our needs are not met, how do we extend ourselves to others without becoming drained? As a result of our own failure to care for ourselves, we begin to expect others to take care of us, feeling entitled to receiving care, attention or love - we may even go and unconsciously seek out a partner, so that they can meet our needs, make us feel good and whole - rather than entering into a partnership as a self-reliant and whole being - generously.
Self-care is a softening, dropping in, releasing, allowing, undoing, resting, letting go, arriving at being.
This is the domain of the feminine.
The feminine is. The masculine does.
All of this said, it is easy to revert back to our habituated modes - when self-care becomes another thing on our to-do list. Whenever you engage in your self-care process with the attitude of “I have to do this” > stop. The practice of self-care is the absence of exerting effort, which may at first feel counter-habitual and awkward. After all, many of us derive our sense of self-worth from the things we do. In that case, allow yourself to feel awkward as you do nothing. Notice the thoughts that arise and the self-limiting talk, the feelings of guilt and shame. Hold all of these in your compassionate awareness without judgement.
Self-care can happen anywhere: on the subway, on the toilet, in a bathtub or on a massage table. It is a mental attitude. Its a state of mind or better said, a state of being. When you practice self-care, you will know it because your body will respond. Your mind will also respond. You will feel at ease, more open, spacious, clear, vitalized. You may even experience pleasure - because the deeper the release, the higher the probability of blissful states. These blissful states are for you to embody - whether at work - making work more fluid, joyful and easy, or during meditation, dancing, eating, making love, daydreaming ….
What does it take for you to let go ?