Why compassion is an inside job, Part 1

Benefits of self-care and how this simple act of love can change your life and the lives of those around you, for the better


Many of the people I talk to about health tell me they feel stuck in a rut, worn out, unable to take care of themselves the way they should.  They know they ought to eat more veggies, drink more water, get more rest, but it’s hard to put your highest needs first when you are running around and just trying to survive untold responsibilities.  Does this describe you as well?


On top of that, the political and social environment of recent times has added more stress to all our lives, especially those of us who pay attention.  Many of us “givers” such as healers and activists suffer a certain compassion fatigue.  We share a collective feeling of social exhaustion.


One effective way to overcome this compassion fatigue is to shower yourself with compassion. If your cup is empty, it must be filled.  Self-compassion, self-care, and self-love are all names to describe the act of putting yourself first.  Self-care is an emerging art, one I encourage you to practice!


Lately, I’ve been focused on learning what it means to deeply care for myself and I have learned a lot!  I’ve seen and felt tremendous positive changes as a result of finally putting my needs first and I’ve heard from many others with similar experience.  We’ve found the power of self-care comes from respecting ourselves.  Self-care is the truest and sometimes the most difficult form of love and compassion.   We have been programmed to put others first.  Self-care might seem selfish, yet I argue it is the opposite.  Self-care is an act of love that beams out of you for others to enjoy.  When compassion starts with yourself and is reflected out, magic happens. 


Love and compassion turned inward and mirrored out inevitably creates opportunities for you and others.  Others feel this love and self-respect that you radiate, and they will be more inclined to show you love, compassion, and respect in return.  Self-care is thus a win-win-win again scenario.  You share love with self, others feel this love, they give love back to you.  Sound good?  Taking care of yourself as a priority will enable you to live the life of your dreams.  Or at the very least improve the life you live now and allow you to start toward the dream.


I was stuck in my own rut just a couple of years ago.  I had a career position with a company I loved, yet it prevented me from caring for myself.  My time and energy were so tied up that I got into a routine with too much coffee, sugar, and alcohol.  You may know what I’m talking about—work hard play hard, right?  But I was gaining weight and I’m getting older, so these “treats” were not serving me well.  They were causing inflammation, an overly acidic body, bloating and weight gain.  While I earned a very good living and had a passion for the work, I realized I needed a different scenario for my long-term health.  


Around this time the phrase “self-care” was trending in social media, and I wondered about this topic.  What does it mean to love and care for oneself? Do I do it?  How do others do it?


I decided to focus on myself for a change, which created space for new opportunities to surprise me.  I have ended up with a much richer life than I imagined, doing work I love that helps other people and allows a more balanced lifestyle for me.


What does someone do if they are stuck in a rut and cannot quit their job and figure out a dream scenario?  Great question!  The answer is unique to each one of us.  A frustrating answer, I know.  It’s the same with overall health and wellness.  Each of us must take charge of defining what’s important. It’s personal.


Start with looking at your own needs that aren’t being met. If your cup feels empty, what would it take to fill it up?  Do you need more pampering? Maybe schedule time for a hot bath once a week. Perhaps a spa day is in order.  Do you have trouble scheduling a workout due to lack of time?  Try scheduling a 10-minute high-intensity workout 3 times a week.  You’ll be surprised at how even a small step like this will help. 


Once you gain some results from your efforts, you’ll be inspired to keep it up and maybe even do more.  Say you notice you have more energy when you do the 10-min workout, you might feel inspired to do a 10-minute workout 5 times a week.  Short, high-intensity workouts are as effective as much longer cardio workouts so this consistent 10-minute effort will really pay off.   


Identify your roadblocks to health, look for solutions to those roadblocks, and then take one small action.



 Originally printed in Pathways Magazine Summer Edition 2019

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