Commitment #5: Self-Care
Even when I am stressed, overwhelmed, or in disconnection, I want to maintain my commitments to my well-being and take actions that nourish my life. If I find myself letting go of strategies that I know contribute to my life (such as exercise, eating as I want, receiving support and empathy as needed, enjoyable activities, or anything else that I know works for me), I want to seek support to ground myself in the preciousness of my own life and my desire to nurture myself.
Like many who are fueled by vision and passion for the world, I often find it difficult to prioritize self-care. For example, in this moment, I am prioritizing writing about self-care over resting after five intensive days of training!
For a while, my motivation for self-care rested on the metaphor of the chef who cares for her knives. I recognized that me and my body were my instruments of my work, and care was needed to keep me sharp and present. Now, moving beyond “necessity,” I am learning to access self-care purely because I am a living, precious being, the same way my feline cousins do.
Slowly, I am countering the ethos of self-sacrifice and including myself, more fully, in the global circle of love. I am learning, with others, to let go of body image myths altogether while at the same time releasing the grip of seeing the body as lowly, only there to serve the mind. I am learning to recognize that I live beyond capacity, accountable to my schedule and my appointments more than to myself. I am developing, slowly, some internal resolve, without “incentive.” I am also learning to engage with my limitations instead of fighting against myself in an effort to create a “discipline” I can’t maintain.
As a result of my learning, I now integrate exercise with friendship. I have weekly walking dates with four different people and a twice-weekly small exercise group called “Fitness without Effort”. Fun, laughter, and intimacy now happily co-enhance strength and health. I now truly look forward to exercising instead of seeing it as a “chore” I never get to.
Ultimately, reaching the degree of self-care that I and others want will likely require us to transform our beliefs about scarcity, so we can find a way to contribute our gifts, have a rich life, and truly care for ourselves.
Make a list of all the ways you wish to care for yourself. For each one, ask yourself what keeps you from attending to it. For each such obstacle, look for a way to transcend it, gently. If you struggle to love your body, for example, write down the thoughts you have about your body, and identify the core longing that may be fueling each thought. If you struggle to keep your commitment to exercise or healthy food, consider combining them with other activities to bring pleasure and meaning to self-care. Aim to find specific actions. Remember to ask for support.
About the author:
Miki Kashtan is a co-founder of Bay Area Nonviolent Communication (BayNVC). She is inspired by the role of visionary leadership in shaping a livable future, and works toward that vision by sharing the principles and practices of Nonviolent Communication through mediation, meeting facilitation, consulting, and training for organizations and for committed individuals. Miki blogs at the Fearless Heart. Her articles have appeared in Tikkun magazine (e.g.Wanting Fully Without Attachment), Waging Nonviolence (e.g. Pushing the powerful into a moral corner at India’s Barefoot College), Shareable, and elsewhere.
New to this blog? Read Miki’s Introduction to this series ‘All -in: fully committing to a life of nonviolence’