Over the next month I am going to take you all on a little journey with me. It has become very clear to me that I need to work a lot harder than I have been on self-care and self-esteem. Recently I wrote a guest blog for Your Super Awesome Life in which I discuss the challenge of creating and maintaining strong self-esteem in the face of an eating disorder. This challenge cannot be understated- it is really, really hard to even know where to start when you aren’t taking the best care of yourself to begin with. I suspect that some of you may be experiencing the same challenge, so I thought it would be helpful to go on this journey together.
My lack of self-care and self-esteem manifests itself physically, psychologically, and spiritually. I suffer from debilitating tension headaches almost daily. The muscles in my neck and shoulders are so tense it is hard for even the best massage therapist to break up the knots. I also have digestive issues, back pain, and a general sense of anxiety at all times. Mentally, I am exhausted. Even with the best intentions it is difficult to maintain a positive attitude. Whatever positivity I can muster fades away and is replaced by doubt and fear. Sometimes I wake up suddenly in the night, unable to breathe, feeling sheer panic. I have lost a lot of faith over the years, which has left me feeling empty and adrift. This is no way to live. It is frustrating to look back and see how far I have come, then look ahead and see how far I still have to go.
Louise Hay, in her book You Can Heal Your Life, has this to say about physical manifestations of negative thoughts: “I believe we create every so-called illness in our body. The body, like everything else in life, is a mirror of our inner thoughts and beliefs. The body is always talking to us, if we will only take the time to listen. Every cell within your body responds to every thought you think and every word you speak” (p. 123). I struggle a little with this assertion, perhaps because I have often felt as if I am not in control of the things that happen to me. The older I get the more I realize that what I put out into the world comes right back to me. If I go to the grocery store with a smile on my face, feeling positive and patient and compassionate, that good energy is returned to me by the other customers in the store. They smile at me, or help me with something, and the whole experience is less stressful. I notice that my body feels less tense. On the other hand, if I go to the store feeling impatient and grumpy, there is no question that the experience will be difficult and stressful. So, it makes sense that the thoughts I think, the food I eat, and the things I do to my body will have a direct effect on my physical well-being.
We are in control of our lives. We can choose, at any moment, to make an experience good or bad. We can choose to take care of ourselves or continue to punish our bodies. For me, the most difficult challenge is learning to say no and learning to ask for what I need. There are many areas in my life right now where I am not getting what I need. But how do I ask without hurting people’s feelings or upsetting them? Is it better to stay silent and hope they read my mind? That’s what I’ve been doing, and so far no one in my life has become psychic. Clearly, it’s time to speak up.
So I’d like you to come on this journey with me as I explore self-care and self-esteem from a physical, psychological, and spiritual standpoint. It will mean a lot to me to have your support, and I hope that my experiences will help you on your quests for health and well-being. Let’s get started!