During November and December of 2013 I felt as if my life had drifted into a place between the egos need to do this and that, and the inner need to go within and tend to myself.
I had arrived at a place where I was being given the message to pause and breathe; except I didn’t know it. I resented this unfamiliar space because I really had too much to do… for everyone else. This pausing energy was in conflict to plowing ahead and pushing forward. I’ve never really been the pausing kind of person and the Holiday season had arrived in full swing. I was running out of time for making and buying gifts and participating in seasonal activities. And like many other people at this time of the year, I was running out of energy. But running out of energy didn’t make me pause; it made me move faster.
Then it happened: I hit the wall, crashed and burned. I was forced to step back from almost everything on my massive and seemingly endless "to do" list. The way I was operating was no longer working for me. I couldn’t continue to just do, do, do and go, go, go; it had worn me down and out. Next came the realization that I had totally neglected myself in the process.
Self-neglect is a condition that I believe goes highly unrecognized: an all-too common state of being that drains and sickens when left unacknowledged and unchecked. The best action is, of course, to be proactive and recognize early on when we need to hit the pause button to rest, recover and restore. However, when we fail to hit that pause button, it gets pushed for us, when our bodies and our spirit basically say, “enough is enough; we're going to take a break NOW”.
You know what I mean. When simple tasks become too much, enough is enough. When normal thought processes become challenging and creativity is limited, enough is enough. When nails go unmanicured, dull skin & shadowed eyes become constant companions, and sadness weaves its way through our emotions, enough is enough.
We are the ONLY assigned caretakers of our whole self. So many self-care actions I knew I needed kept finding their way to the backburner: my feet, which have been waiting weeks for a pedicure; the quiet herbal teas that were being pushed aside for blood pumping caffeine; received guidance waiting to be used; the stack of books waiting to be read. There were other telltale signs of my self-neglect like the half-finished craft projects; tight muscles, clenched teeth and a body that was unable to relax at night; forgetfulness, interrupted sleep and body rashes that indicated irritation at my personal desertion. It really was a slap in the face.
Slowly I am adapting to a new mode of being. Very slowly.
There are some deeply grooved programs and habits to overcome; impatience with myself comes easily.
Seriously, sometimes it just sucks.
In spite of this, I invite you to seriously take a look at how you have been treating yourself and note where you may have participated in some personal desertion or “done a bunk”, as those crafty Brits like to say. Where you have run away from yourself? No judgment; most of us have done it. Check how you’ve been sleeping: are you feeling rested in the morning or exhausted? Really look at your face in the mirror and admit if you like what you see. Look at your skin, nails and feet: what condition are they in? Pay attention to your thoughts and how you feel. Notice any twinging, tight muscles screaming for some stretching.
Healing and transformation come when we can finally see it. ‘Cause when you know, you know and there’s no getting away from that. So, in the next few weeks, when writing out your bucket list for 2014, make “increase my level of self-care” #2. Make “slow down, pause and breathe”#1. Pause because you care… and want a happier New Year!
Charyn Gant is the founder of the blog/site When We Listen to Trees: a platform to share information, stories and tolls of how we can improve our quality of life, especially our emotional health as it relates to our physical health. Charyn has been in the alternative healing arena for more than a decade. You can also find her on Pinterest and LinkedIn.