Take care of yourself
You have to know yourself to take care of yourself. Start here.
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If you can touch it, feel it, look it in the face, and talk about it—you can heal it.
People close to you say take care when they send you off on a trip, or at the end of an email. Sometimes loved ones say, “take care of yourself,” or “I wish you would take care of yourself.” Sometimes we even say it ourselves when we know we need to slow down to restore health and wellbeing. We say, “I need to take care of myself.” This could be a private voice spoken in a whisper inside our own head. Or it could be a feeling spoken out loud, shared with a supportive friend or family member. Maybe a loved one or dear friend says to us, “Why don’t you take care of yourself?” Maybe they have a concerned look on their face, and you say, “I know I need to take care of myself better. I will…”
But how? How do you do it? How do you take care of yourself?
The question runs deep. It runs so deep, in fact, it runs to the very core of our being, of our human being.
Because there’s the physical practice of self-care. And there’s the metaphysical aspect of it. These two aspects are related. One is a consciousness with spiritual and moral dimensions. And the other is a pragmatics that involves a broad range of know-how.
What is a self? And how do we take care of it?
This is another way of saying, Who am I? And how do I take care of myself?
It doesn’t matter what the issue is, these two aspects apply. Having a healthy concept of Self, and having a self-care practice.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been drinking too much, if you ‘ve been mixing alcohol and prescription drugs, if you’ve gotten addicted to prescription painkillers or sleeping pills, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if the problem is that you’re struggling with fertility, or you’ve been told you’re at risk for diabetes, or developing high blood pressure or inflammatory heart disease. It doesn’t matter if you have a family history of cancer or Alzheimer’s. Or maybe you’ve been overusing antibiotics, or gaining too much weight, or not drinking enough water, or not preparing and cooking organic nutritious foods in your own kitchen.
Maybe the issue is financial, that you’re not asking for and creating more abundance in your life. Or maybe it’s emotional, because you’re creating an unloving relation in your life, or you’re creating a co-dependent relation, or your attempts to be in relation repeat an old pattern. Or perhaps you’re in a loving relationship, and you’re at a loss as to how to nurture it and take care of it. Maybe the issue is not exercising regularly, or not being able to find your keys, or losing your hair, or needing to find a better dentist than the guy who put mercury fillings in your mouth or root canals, or needing a better doctor than the one who gave you the prescription you got addicted to, or the vaccine that threw your child over the edge, or the psychotropic anti-depressants that made you anorgasmic and over time…well, more depressed.
Whatever it is, the first remedy is always the same one: take care of yourself. The phrase implies “you” as the subject: you take care of your self.
Now…if only we can understand exactly what that means…
In this self-care session, my intention is to leave you with a clear concept of self-care—one that knocks you out of your trance and back into your body. Then I want to focus your attention on some basic self-care practices that all of us can do—starting today.
Let’s start by going a little deeper into the concept of Self. So we can understand what we mean by self-care.
A “self” implies freedom, doesn’t it? Freedom to make choices. Freedom to find joy, and to create love and meaning. Freedom to be a moral being who acts ethically in situations where one is told by an authority to do the opposite. Freedom to follow a self-determined prescription for wellbeing, for emotional connection, and for appropriate behavior. A “self” implies a person who acts according to an internal script of what is right and good for her or him. Not an internalized prescription for behaviors that came from outside the Self, but an intrinsic prescription that comes from within the Self. Intrinsic means in your bones. In your blood. In the flesh and heart of you. It means coming from within, not from outside.
Without that freedom to prescribe your own morality and action in the world, you become a slave to external rules and prescriptions that come from outside of you. These externalized prescriptions and rules might not be good for you or your family, even if they come from a doctor, or a dentist. After all, there are bad doctors and bad dentists, aren’t there? Who wants to be a slave to them? Doing whatever they say when we feel intuitively that it’s not right for us.
By the same token, there are good doctors and dentists aren’t there? Don’t you want to choose one that is in harmony with you? Experienced in what you need? Trained in the medicine of the future—one that takes care of the whole Self? And genuinely supportive of self-care?
This is what having a Self, and being a Self, looks like, doesn’t it? The freedom to choose.
Just as a free person is not a slave to a bad doctor or dentist, neither is a free Self a slave to a trade organization like the ADA and the AMA, or a government agency like the FDA or the CDC.
Think about it.
Imagine yourself a slave to a professional trade organization. It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Why would anyone choose that? Or imagine making yourself a slave to a bureaucratic agency under constant lobby from trade organizations and industry—like the FDA or CDC or USDA. Or imagine making yourself a slave to an insurance company that decides what procedures it will pay for and which it won’t based on its own financial interests? Who wants to be a slave to an insurance company? Or worse, a holding company that owns everything from the insurance company that chooses the standards of practice that will be covered, to the pharmaceutical company that makes the drugs that are covered, to the hospitals that provide the expensive and invasive medical treatments that are covered. Especially when what was needed in the first place was more self-care.
This is the situation that free subjects are dealing with today.
So…the best way to know you are free is to make choices for yourself, according to your own internal morality and know-how, and then watch what happens. This is the first step in self-care. And we all have a moral imperative to do this in order to constitute our self as a Self.
So once you have a Self (that is, you’ve created yourself as a free agent), then you need a practice of self-care to maintain the health and wellbeing of your self. Therefore, the second step in the care of the Self is to love yourself. Self-care starts with self-love.
If you were loved unconditionally as a child, loving yourself is second nature and you don’t even have to think about it. However, if you were judged as a child, by parents who were judged themselves as children, then you may find loving yourself doesn’t come second nature, but is something you have to learn how to do.
And that’s okay, anyone can learn how to love yourself. You just have to practice it everyday and it will become second nature.
Ok, let me repeat this last point for clarity. If you have a self, in the sense that you have the freedom to make choices for yourself, and you choose to take care of yourself, then the next step is to love yourself.
To take care of yourself, you have to love yourself. Because we naturally take care of what we love, don’t we? Isn’t it the same thing? Loving yourself and taking care of yourself? Love of the self is the same as care of the self. When people say “take care of yourself,” they’re saying “love yourself.” When people say “love yourself,” they’re saying “take care of yourself.“
It sounds simple enough. But sometimes, because we all have parts of us that play different roles, we may be challenged to love some of our parts. Self-care requires that we love all the parts, even if some parts benefit from having some healthy boundaries in terms of when and where they can show up and run a program. Even our defenders and protectors need to learn healthy boundaries. And while they learn these boundaries, they need to be loved. They need to be held close. They need to be whispered to in the dark and rocked to sleep at night after a difficult day. They need reassurance. And if you are challenged by illness, by some kind of physical, emotional and mental imbalance, you need to love yourself even more. Because love heals more than any other emotion. That’s how powerful love is. It’s love that heals first and foremost.
Mary Oliver in her beautiful book Upstream: Selected Essays, writes that there are three selves: the child who struggles to be integrated into our adult personality, the social self running from obligation to obligation, and a third self that exists beyond the mundane requirements of life, a soulful self attuned to the timeless. Oliver argues that this third self is most accentuated in artists, people who are called to create things that last beyond the moment and that serve beyond the self. I agree these three selves are absolutely there for each of us, but also that given each individual’s experience, there could be many more as well. All the parts of the Self could be quite a party. The protector and the helper. The child and the adolescent. The parents. The grandmother and grandfather. And more. So much more. Lovers and partners. All those parts to love. And to hold.
So even if a part of you is sick, even if your gut is sick and out of balance, or your brain is sick and out of balance, or your heart is sick and out of balance, love that part of you with your whole heart.
If you’re listening and you’re thinking YES, yes I want to love myself, but I don’t know how! Remember this simple truth: to love yourself, you have to know yourself, don’t you? You have to know yourself and all your parts. You have to spend time with yourself. Loving yourself means spending time with yourself and getting to know yourself deeply, in mind, body and spirit.
In the book I wrote with colon hydrotherapist Natalie Boss Superfeel Detox Challenge, I really love the chapter called “Hello Bodymind.” I love this chapter because it takes a deep dive into the organs of detoxification that make up our core Self—the colon, liver and kidneys, and the related organs of the intestines, gallbladder and bladder. You won’t believe how much you’ll know about how to take care of yourself, both physically and emotionally, if you really get to know these organs that are so deeply a part of you. Spend time learning how they function and how to cleanse, nourish and restore them. Because by loving these organs, you’re loving yourself.
Go on long walks with yourself to spend quality time with you. Listen quietly for that inner voice. Get to know yourself in the now. Meditate. When you love yourself, you spend time with yourself. You listen to yourself. And you’re gentle with yourself. You’re kind and nurturing. You feed yourself nutritious food when you’re hungry, and fresh clean water when you’re thirsty. You’re aware when you’re full of passion and desire. Or when you need to get some emotions off your chest. By spending time with yourself, you can better see your own visions. Hear your own inner voices. Feel your own emotions. And this allows you to spend quality time with people you love and love to be around.
I realize taking care of yourself may be hard for all those helpers out there who are so busy taking care of everyone else that they forget to take care of themselves. So many of these helpers are women and men who developed their feminine side who learned early on how to be the nurturers, the conversational housekeepers, the emotional modulators, the family mediators, the crisis managers. Deep grooves laid down in the first 7 years, what the spiritual community calls the Akashic Records. Unconscious codes of cultural DNA embedded deep in our somatic emotional memory because we copied what we experienced around us. Because that’s what children do, they mimic, using mirror neurons to imagine what it’s like to be someone else. And often forgetting oneself in the process. The ramifications can be vast—maybe you learned being yourself is bad or not good enough.
Maybe you learned to put security over identity. Or to be afraid of risk. Maybe you learned to doubt yourself. Whatever you learned before you were conscious of creating your own life, your own story, your own reality—and your own wellbeing. And so helpers may forget to take care. As a result, helpers may hear people remind them to take care of themselves first before trying to take care of them. Why are they doing that? Don’t they appreciate what you’ve done for them? Yes of course, but in reality, maybe they see that you don’t take care of yourself.
Because in so many ways, they are saying, “Be free.” Be free to feel your raw authentic emotions and to express them and share them. Be free to feel needs, to have needs, to say what those needs are, to ask for help.
And in reality, maybe they know that if you don’t take care of yourself, they’re going to have to eventually take care of you! And maybe they have their hands full! You may see later that they were actually taking care of you by reminding you to take care of yourself!
Now let’s talk about the practices of self-care.
It seems like everybody would already know what self-care is, doesn’t it? I mean, all of us are a self, right? So shouldn’t it be common sense to know how to take care of ourselves? But the truth is, not everyone knows because self-care isn’t taught systematically in conventional schools, and conventionally-trained doctors aren’t trained in self-care much less how to teach it. In addition, let’s be frank, our society doesn’t value it. It can’t, as long as the dominant economy depends on people consuming things that are bad for them, and then waiting until they get a diagnosis to do anything about it.
Of course there are teachers who do find a way to teach self-care who make a difference in people’s lives every day. There are doctors who learn it on their own or who grew up with it, or who went to non-conventional medical schools, like naturopathic colleges, where self-care was a fundamental and core principle. And there are families and communities in every city and state where self-care is valued and practiced.
But you know what I mean. As a society we suffer astonishingly high chronic disease rates because the health care system we have in place values expensive and often invasive treatments over simple self-care and natural low-cost remedies. At the same time, industries known for environmental contamination that causes people to be sick are polluting the environment—the air, water and food supply—at an unprecedented speed and magnitude. Public policymakers can’t be trusted to protect us from a toxic cocktail of contaminants, including everything from petroleum products to DDT to organophosphate pesticides to herbicides like glyphosate to radioactive isotopes from the nuclear industry. Keep in mind that none of these man-made toxins even existed 200 years ago. We’re all dealing with an historically unprecedented change in our environment, our bioterrain, and in our microbiome.
Health care and self-care have grown further and further away from each other. And that breach is creating a crisis when it comes to the health of people and planet.
For example, some parents with children suffering epileptic seizure in states where cannabis is illegal may choose to relocate to states where medical cannabis is legal—because cannabis is such a potent anti-seizure and neuro-protective medicinal plant. But for those who find it burdensome to move, or just don’t want to, you have a choice point don’t you? You have a choice to make, and you are the only one who can make that choice. Or maybe you live in a state that passed a mandatory vaccine law. But you believe your child is susceptible to vaccine injury, or you believe vaccines are fundamentally unsafe. You have a choice point don’t you? How do you take care of yourself in situations like these?
Maybe you have root canals in your mouth and your dentist says they’re safe, or mercury amalgam fillings and your dentist says they’re safe. You have a choice point. Maybe your doctor prescribed chemotherapy and somewhere you read about a recent meta-study out of Australia that reported chemo had only a 2% efficacy rate as a cancer treatment. 2%. Yet chemo is the standard of practice still for cancer treatment in the United States. And insurance companies don’t pay for alternative approaches that have better efficacy. Choice point, choice point, choice point.
How will you take care of yourself? Start by getting educated, so your choices are really choices.
Learn to start with the basics, and how to listen to yourself, listen to your tongue, to your teeth, to your gut, to your liver. Learn how to have a real conversation with yourself.
Go to thehealist.com and check out our 12 self-care practices in the GUIDE ME section. That’s our learning environment. You’ll find some good content there about core practices that all of us can do to take care of our Self. Here’s a quick list of the 12 core self-care practices.
- Eat smart
- Detox regularly
- Green everything
- Exercise your bodymind
- Nurture your gutbrain
- Optimize natural immunity
- Protect your mouthbody
- Reduce inflammation
- Balance your hormones
Just remember, if you’re practicing self-care everyday, you’re lowering your risk of chronic illness—every day. So honor yourself, love yourself, take care of yourself.
Practice self-knowledge, self-evaluation and self-actualization. Avoid self-destructive behaviors, first by knowing what those are. Listen to your higher Self. If you can do all these things, then you can self-regulate. Which means you can bring yourself back to balance when you get sick, or even better, before you get sick
Cultivate that inner voice. Pay attention to your self. What do you hear? What do you see? Hair falling out? Eczema? Acne? Bloating and gas? Constipated? Full of shit? Thirsty all the time? Hungry for more and more? Can’t find your keys? Tired of living life alone?
Take a deep breath. Listen. Tune in. Self-care begins with slowing down and becoming conscious of the choices you do have. Your self-care determines your health more than any other factor. Accept responsibility for that, and you can realize your freedom to be well.