Monday, February 17, 2014

Self-Care Begins with Self-Awareness, by Arielle Lee Bair

Self-care sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it? We hear about it all the time. We know it’s something we are supposed to implement in our lives. What we don’t often hear is that self-care begins with self-awareness. Self-awareness makes for a better person, and I’ve come to see self-awareness as an adventure. Sometimes you like it and sometimes you don’t. But you’re taking the journey with yourself. Sometimes it’s a bumpy ride. Sometimes it’s a smooth one. You are both the driver AND the passenger.

If I can be an expert of nothing else, I want to be an expert of ME. Don’t you?

Self-awareness doesn’t have to be about life-altering, game-changing instances. It doesn’t even have to be about problems. At the core, self-awareness is simply about emotions. That’s it. Emotions.

Emotions fuel reactions.
Emotions fuel actions.
Emotions determine mood.
Emotions guide decisions.

Emotions, it turns out, are incredibly important.

But sometimes they feel larger than we are. Sometimes we don’t want to believe them. Sometimes we pretend they don’t exist. Sometimes we embrace them in order to escape other, scarier ones. There are as many scenarios as there are emotions.

But as a pioneer of your own self, you must go forward. In eating disorder recovery and in life, being a pioneer of your own self is major. It’s key. It’s mandatory.

Once you’ve been drawn into the journey of self-awareness, you’re on your way to real self-care. Sometimes the journey involves arguing with yourself. You might want to give yourself a piece of your mind and really let all your frustration out. But at times, that means you have to face what’s bothering you... and not all the things we learn about ourselves feel good.

Eventually, with a little gasp, you let yourself recognize it, whatever IT is. Wide-eyed and nodding, you may decide you can and will stop the denial/defiant ego/self-pity/awkwardness that lies inside of all of us.

And even though it might not make you jump for joy or grin from ear to ear, it’s usually never as bad as it felt at first. And by staring straight into the face of whatever is inside of you with 1) a little confidence, 2) the reminder that you’re human, and 3) the desire to learn about yourself, you’re one step closer to being a master of self-awareness. Your eating disorder doesn’t stand a chance against a master of self-awareness. If mastery seems far away, an impossible goal that’s too ideal, imagine yourself as a traveler on the path of self-awareness. As a traveler, you will learn and experience. Self-care will become an inevitable circumstance of your path. And your eating disorder will watch from the sidelines, bewildered and immobile. A traveler keeps going. A traveler doesn’t stop to entertain the notions of a destructive, negative entity. With self-awareness on your side, you travel the path you’ve set for yourself. You may not always be in control of what happens on that path, but you’re in charge.

Self-care begins with self-awareness. The intricate workings of ourselves deserve time, attention, appreciation, and care. You can’t give any of those things to yourself if you’re working behind a closed door. Open it. And even if it takes a while, don’t be afraid to look inside.

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