Becoming Our Best:
Do you ever feel like that ideal sense of self got lost somewhere in the flurry of life? After investing our time and energy in creating the life we thought we wanted, there is the all too common realization that we feel more out of balance than ever. Often it is illness that reminds us we’re off track. A diagnosis of chronic disease comes like a fire alarm, illuminating the needs we’ve neglected or didn’t notice at all. Otherwise, it is that subtle notion that things could be better somehow.
Regardless of how we’ve arrived, there is a way to reconnect to the best in ourselves. While it may not be accomplished in a weekend or our set vacation time, re-arranging our lives to support a greater sense of self is worth whatever exchange it may require.
Step #1. Prioritize
Life is filled with challenges and there is always something that could seem more important to do than taking care of our selves. Not prioritizing self-care is the first way we sabotage ourselves. This may be because of low self-worth, poor modeling as well as our cultural emphasis on productivity. Pushing beyond this to make our needs the highest priority is the first and most important step. Set aside time on the schedule every day, multiple times each day. A moment here, 10 minutes there, 60 minutes two days per week, all adds up to a tremendous amount of energy to create a new way of being. Spend six weeks with a new habit and you’ve established a new “normal” to your routine.
Step #2. Discover Your Needs
This may be the most difficult task. Identifying our authentic emotional and physical needs can be very confusing because we adapt to fit into the world around us. Emotional needs can be examined through a process of self-inquiry, meditation, prayer and counseling work. Journaling is a fantastic process to begin with asking ourselves the questions of what we truly need to thrive, as well as to reflect back on what strategies we might have tried in the past. Growth rarely happens along a straight line so as we learn and re-learn, keeping our own notes about the journey can help us identify when we’re slipping into patterns of self-sabotage.
Physical needs can be equally confusing. For example, we crave certain foods but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily beneficial for us. Generally, the foods we desire the most are the one’s that are least beneficial. When we examine what foods we feel strongly about, they are very likely the foods that are triggering our immune system, resulting in an inflammatory response that causes the brain to experience a mild sense of euphoria. Removing these foods from the diet is a good start to listening to the quieter voice of what our bodies truly require to feel vital.
Every body has basic needs; Proper nourishment in a calm environment, at least half our body weight in fluid ounces of clean water each day, adequate sleep starting before 10pm, daily exercise equal to the calories we take in. In addition, some bodies need amino acid isolates for genetic weaknesses to be improved. Others need neurotransmitter support to function normally. These details can greatly support our experience of fulfillment in life.
Why we don’t allow ourselves these necessities is the interface for where our emotional needs and physical needs meet. Why do we deprive ourselves? Why do we get in our own way? The first excuse is usually that we don’t have enough time. Supporting health does not have to be complicated. In fact, it can be far more simple than the life we currently know. Identifying and getting our needs met is the most basic and imperative aspect to feeling whole.
Step #3. Invest in the Journey
The more energy and attention we commit toward the pursuit of anything, the more it shows up in our lives. A recent parent notices everywhere they look there are people around town with their infants, strollers, car seats, etc… Not that people weren’t having babies before, it just wasn’t the focus until the energy and attention was put in that direction. Taking on a new dietary focus and suddenly every headline or book cover that catches the eye supports that philosophy. We are a trendy culture, but this goes beyond that. We truly see what we want to see as well as what we expect.
Likewise, the more we invest in the fear of human imperfection, aggression, violence and failure the more we see that wherever we look. While there is benefit in awareness, investing ourselves in the direction of growth we desire requires considering this on all levels. It may require educating ourselves in a new paradigm, going to retreats or opening ourselves up to a whole new approach on living.
Step #4. Go Gently in the Direction of Your Dreams
Establishing a goal allows us the possibility of imagining ourselves in a new circumstance. This in and of itself can be a powerful gesture of change. Our cells are continuously reproducing. Our entire liver has died and recreated itself every 24 hours. Our taste buds are a whole new set every 7 days. Yet we don’t experience every flavor as if for the first time each week. Our memory and self-image keeps the sameness in our lives. Utilizing a conscious practice of shifting our self-image toward a more satisfied, whole and vital sense of self may allow for greater ease in our lives.
However, if we hold too high a standard for our own compliance, we are likely to fail and fall into another trap of self-sabotage. Guilt and shame are powerful forces that affect our motivation and destroy our self-esteem. Set a realistic expectation and allow for spontaneity in life as you find it fulfilling.
Step #5. Recruit Supporters
Banish the nay-sayers and surround yourself with those who support your pursuit. This may include establishing new social circles, setting new boundaries with family members and friends. We have an amazing resource available to us today with the internet connecting us to others in a way never before possible. Working together as a group enhances our own biochemistry, elevating serotonin creating a sense of well being and increased motivation. Not only is group involvement inspiring, it also provides a sense of accountability to a process that otherwise is easy to slip out of.
Pursuing a life of fulfillment and our best selves is what we all want and is something that may be much harder than we’d expect. With this framework we can begin and support the continuous pursuit of wholeness. At Stillwater Healing Arts clinic, we offer a wide array of resources to support the whole being. Visit us online at www.stillwaterhealingarts.com to add to your holistic healthcare team. Join us in May for a free 6 week Creative Writing group to explore the inner dialogue and work towards our best selves.
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