My Self Love Toolkit is like a Magic Backpack of tools I have to support myself on a daily basis – things like finding stillness through meditation or just being in nature, eating what makes me feel good, moving my body every day, a body-mindfulness practice that allows me to tune in to my Body Wisdom and True Self.
This type of in-bodied Self Love practice supports my system in being able to hold the container – my physical being – for feelings and sensations. I notice how I feel in my body when I’m practicing Self Care. When I can notice how I’m feeling in soothing situations where I’m tenderly caring for myself, I can better process more uncomfortable emotions like grief, anger, shame, and fear when they show up.
I can also cultivate more experiences dive deep into the things that light me up, make me feel totally jazzed and electric! I can fall in love with my daughter and giggle at a silly joke. Brene Brown tells us that we can’t be selective in what we choose to feel. If we want to feel pleasure and joy, we have to be willing to feel pain and discomfort.
As much as my practice gives me a foundation of a calm abiding (loving) Self that can hold the tension between self -awareness and loving kindness, sometimes I get hurt and need emergency care – Self Love First Aid. The emotions are so strong and intense that I become overwhelmed and flooded. I begin to feel panicked and out of control – like I’m in a downward spiral. Because the feelings are so intense and uncomfortable, I start shutting down. In these moments, I need to practice Self Love Triage.
I have a Self Love First Aid kit: a written list of Practices and Supports that I can call on in crisis. I recognize the energetic movement in my body of feeling my emotions. I also can identify the quagmire that goes along with being out of body and flooded. When I feel flooded, I pull out that list of ways to give myself some First Aid…
Right now I’m reading Karla McLaren’s book, The Language of Emotions. She describes how as an empathic child suffering from severe trauma, she learned to dissociate – to leave her body during the trauma. As a result, she says, she remembers almost nothing of her childhood. Her trauma caused her to flood, to shut down and detach from her body and her emotions. This really hit home for me because, in my own story, I definitely employed dissociation – detaching from my body – as a means to cope with overwhelming emotions.
However, repeatedly ignoring my emotions and cutting off my relationship to my body as a way to cope kept the trauma trapped in my body. I had extra weight. I was tired all the time. Overall, I didn’t feel good. My body is the container for my story. It holds my wisdom, my emotions, my traumas, my joys, my hopes, dreams, fears, and disappointments – all of my story – in the tissues, muscles, organs, joints, skin, and energy fields.
You know how sometimes you read something and practically jump up and say YES!!!? In McLaren’s book, she examines all emotions (even the so-called negative ones) as neutral energy flow and messages. The body is the container and processor for these messages. Integral to her healing practice, is working with her clients to become in-bodied. Only then can we tap into our natural empathic abilities to allow the emotions to flow freely and easily through us.
As part of my Self Love Toolkit, I practice staying present in the body. I practice breathing through the uncomfortable places as a way to melt into them and feel – to open to the wisdom of my body and emotions. Still, sometimes…a little first aid is needed when my system threatens to shut down.
So, what’s in my Self Love First Aid Kit?
- I have a group of friends that I know will offer me unconditional support and love without flaming the fire.
- I know that when I dance or run or shake, I can burn off some of the excess energy that often goes along with the Flooded feeling, allowing me to settle back down in my body instead of shutting down.
- I have tapping, breathing, praying, and singing
And I continue practicing.
What’s in your Self Love First Aid Kit?