WEATHERING

WEATHERING

Weathering the wild storms in our lives requires shelter and insulation from the cold both literal and metaphorical, that insulation is made up of self-compassion and yes, self-care.

 

“Self-care is huge. Unfortunately, many people feel some guilt about taking care of themselves; they view self-care as self-ish. It's not selfish - it is essential.” - Dr Bruce Perry, What Happened To You

 

I, for one, am exhausted and frustrated whenever I read from old time self-help gurus or anyone else who subscribes to these outworn beliefs and feels compelled to share them for “my own good”, that I need to develop grit to be resilient. The term ‘grit’ alone puts me off, it sounds like I must force my way through life by grating my tender skin against the jagged edges of outworn social structures. It’s a hangover philosophy from our patriarchal roots in the protestant work ethic and in Aotearoa, our “she’ll be right” attitude toward emotional expression and our “suck it up” attitude toward exhaustion. If you are a sensitive person like me, don’t let yourself be fooled by the hardnoses out there who say that self-care is self-ish. Selfcare is essential and self-compassion is a key component of selfcare to provide the metaphorical insulation you need to repair the very real insulation of your nervous system.

 

“Everything psychological is biological.” Alexis Fernandez-Preiksa, The Neuroscience of Self-Love

 

I have always been a sensitive person, but a few years, with all that was going on in the world I became super-hyper-sensitive. It was like all of my senses were on high alert all the time, everything became overwhelming and I couldn’t self-regulate the way I used to be able to. Perhaps you can relate, perhaps you went through this too, perhaps you are still going through this. Read on, this is for you. I felt like my entire nervous system had been stripped of its insulative myelin sheath and all of my nerves were left raw. Bare and exposed to the world and all of its chaos, I had never experienced so much unmanageable sensory bombardment. Not only was I hypersensitive to the harshness of everything, at the same time I felt numb to the beauty, pleasure and joy that I used to be able to experience. And to make it worse, my usual tools didn’t help at all.  

 

"Research shows that positive affirmations don't help if you doubt yourself. They ring hollow, backfire and just make you feel worse." – Dr Kristen Neff, Fierce Self-Compassion

 

F.U.C.K. According to Dr Neff, it's much more effective to say FUCK: Friendly, Useful, Calm, Kind, affirmations instead. I stopped using affirmations long ago because I didn’t believe them and they felt false, fake and trite. BUT, I have discovered that there is validity to F.U.C.K self-talk. You see, the more I meditated, the more I discovered that I was already talking to myself ALL THE TIME in my own mind, I just wasn’t aware of the filth I was mentally feeding myself. Can you relate? Our negative self-care is not something that can be transformed overnight either, these are deep seated thought patterns that have been imbedded in our subconscious since we were infants. It must become an ongoing, life practise to become aware of them and step off those tracks with self-compassionate practises like meditation, walking or whatever your version of mindful self-care is.

 

"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." - Audre Lorde, author and activist

 

Resilience is found not in developing grit but in weathering together. In giving the middle finger to the system and structures that grate against our beautiful yet delicate and already heavily burdened minds. We do the work of reinsulating our nervous systems both individually and collectively. We choose our flavour of self-care and we make it a ritual, a valued part of our daily lives. Whether that be yoga, therapy, massage, sports, meditation, walking, music, dance, art, crafts, or journaling, know that your avenue to peace and joy is legitimate and must become a non-negotiable part of your life. Allowing yourself to truly feel the sensation of peace and joy may be foreign to you, that’s ok, I understand, it was for me too. But little by little these sensations heal your body and mind, insulating you against the sharp stones that get thrown your way. Self-care is how we weather the wild storms and self-compassion is our greatest shelter to heal and repair, and ready ourselves for the next wave of change.

 

“Remember, the major tool you have in helping others change whether you are a parent, teacher, coach, therapist, or friend—is you. Relationships are the currency of change.”- Dr Bruce Perry, What Happened To You

 

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