Are you feeling it too?
No matter where you land with respect to what's happening in our world today, it's likely that you're feeling a variety of complex emotions. I feel it myself and I hear it from everyone.
I've been asking a lot of questions lately to get to uncover the feelings I've been having. Even though I'm a Self-care Coach and I know the importance of nurturing myself, even I have been having a struggle maintaining my own self-care practice in the face of the daily political firestorms. My approach to politics used to be this.
Now I realize that I have a responsibility to help create the world I want to live in. I started to wonder: How does self-care fit into all the action that needs to be taken? Do I deserve to take care of myself when so many are suffering? How can I rest when it seems that each day brings a new urgent issue threatening yet another group, cause, or value I hold dear?
When basic rights are threatened, "frivolous" things like self-care go by the wayside. And that's where we can slip into a dark place. It needs to be said that: Self-care is a necessity, not a luxury.
In the words of the wise author and feminist activist Audre Lorde:
"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation,
and that is an act of political warfare."
As I sat with the idea of frivolity and the resentment I felt, I noticed that I was setting an impossible pace for myself. I was attempting to do too much, having the thought that I wasn't making a difference, and feeling exhausted.
That's when the insight came.
The key to sustainable, effective change is to work together. We need to connect with others who care about the issues we care about so that we can approach this as a relay race, rather than a 5-billion mile sprint. It's unrealistic to expect ourselves to expend 100% of our energy 100% of the time.
For the long haul, we need to be able to work together; to take the baton when it's our turn and then pass it to the next person while we rest and restore ourselves so we can be ready for the next leg.
I'll say it again, self-care is a necessity, not a luxury. After my insight, I came across this excellent article from Arianna Huffington with helpful strategies for getting out of the cycle of outrage so many of us are feeling multiple times a day. The secret is in nurturing ourselves. Here's an excerpt:
As Marcus Aurelius, who spent nineteen years as the Emperor of Rome facing nearly constant war, a horrific plague, an attempt at the throne by one of his closest allies and an incompetent and greedy step-brother as co-emperor, wrote, "People look for retreats for themselves in the country, by the coast, or in the hills. There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself."
This is a call to self-care. A call to create spaces of calm within ourselves so that we can live sustainably in optimal health. How can you give this to yourself?