My Journey from Self-Care to Soul-Care.Apr 11, 2021
I'd like to share a little story with you:
It was 9:21 on a sunny Tuesday morning on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, and I was driving to work. Waiting at the roundabout at the end of our street for what seemed like forever, trying to find a gap to squeeze my fairly common and popular black SUV car booty into the bumper-to-bumper line of Sydney commuters. While waiting, my nose unfortunately registered that the car smelled like old dog treats from last night’s training session, with my dog Luna (let’s be honest…old dog treats smell like farts), as I had forgotten to take them out of the training pouch. Actually, I hadn’t forgotten, I was too tired to care at the time and now was facing the consequences and was being punished by the stench of old meat treats.
Anyway, while waiting at the roundabout for a gap, and inhaling the aroma of old dog treats, I saw a mum in a minibus with three small children being a superhuman, patiently handing one son his breakfast while the other two children screamed at her, all whilst managing Sydney’s horrific traffic and looking utterly exhausted.
I also saw a man in his 40s who had no emotion whatsoever on his face whilst sitting behind his steering wheel, expressing his inner zombie as if he were rehearsing for a movie role…at least that’s what it looked like. And I was sitting there…waiting my turn to join the ever-numbing rat race. And I was so tired…so very…very…very tired. And weirdly detached and numb from it all. And my day hadn’t even started! No amount of coffee could fix that kind of tiredness, and no amount of fancy clothes or makeup could hide it. No amount of money in my bank account could justify feeling that way.
My spark was gone. Who the f@#* knows where it went?!
Really…I had no effing idea. But it had left. Oh yeah…I should have warned you; I do have a bit of a potty mouth. I’m on top of it most of the time…but let me tell you…that situation called for swearing. And despite having the privilege to have had all sorts of medical tests done, nothing was detected. I was given various labels, but in the end, it only meant that it was a mystery.
I was honestly wondering…was this how we were meant to feel and live life? Feeling detached and sleepy most of our lives? Seriously, is that all there is?
I honestly didn’t understand why I was so very…very…very tired, sleepy and detached from it all. I ran a small but successful clinical psychology practice, in an amazing holistic clinic with outstanding practitioners who shared the same ethics and ideals, and I really adored most of my clients. And yet…I dreaded going to work because I was so very…very.... very tired. There was no awe, no wonder in my life. Life felt like an obligation, and a very calculated one to be honest. I had enough therapy under my belt to know that I was living by my values, I had acquired many coping strategies to toughen me up to cope with life, I had awareness of my triggers and thought patterns and life traps, I ate my 5 servings of veggies a day, drank plenty of water, was surrounded and loved by my beautiful friends and family, was living in a privileged area, and ran my own business. I mean, according to social media and society, I was living the dream! And a very privileged and spoiled one as well. And yet, I didn’t understand why it didn’t make sense.
But, back to the roundabout…by now it is probably 9:25, and when I finally got to squish my run-of-the-mill black SUV car booty into a gap, I said out loud to myself: “Dear Universe, if anyone is listening…please bring some magic back into my life. There must be more to life than this. This can’t be it. It just can’t be effing it!”
And oh dear…. let me tell you, life took me on an incredible adventure ride, shortly after saying this out loud and here I am now, running coaching classes and workshops about this very topic.
Self-Care is Soul-Care.
In hindsight, I honestly believe my burnout was caused by not honouring my authentic self and my soul. I did plenty of self-care, but it was ego-based. It was based on my ideas of who I am, ideas on what self-care should look like and what society would approve of. I desperately tried to fit into a box, into a construct, tried to get external approval, without honouring who I was, behind that ego mask. Hence my spirit was depleted and depressed. Interestingly enough, there was always this low hum of fear following me, despite countless hours of self-development.
I thought I lived by my values but didn’t understand that there is more to it. I didn’t understand that the values I had chosen, were not coming from my heart space, but from societal pressure. Sure, I had picked values like kindness and compassion. But I didn’t know how to apply them to myself. I tried to heal others without understanding how to take good care of myself first, and without accepting that everyone’s self-care routine is different. And I also didn’t understand that the soul has rhythms and seasons. I just pretended to be a machine that just kept going. No matter what. Each year the bar was set higher. It’s also important to note that I come from a country where laziness and weakness are seen as the worst traits someone could possibly have.
Furthermore, I didn’t understand that “having a break” in my day, wasn’t necessarily restorative to my wellbeing. Having 8h of sleep is not enough to restore a tired body and spirit. I didn’t comprehend that there are different types of rest and how multifaceted it was. I honestly believe my soul was just so tired for having to fit in, and trying to tick all these boxes I thought I had to accomplish, to fit into society, that I made myself ill. I’m a very stubborn person with perfectionistic traits that has a chronic history of pushing harder and further than the resources that are available, simply out of fear of not being good enough or not worthy enough. That wasn’t my first burnout. In my previous burnouts I just thought I had to be more efficient, better organised, eating healthier, doing more yoga, become a better therapist, and basically more skill up, a.k.a. toughening up.
Let me be clear, I don’t want to minimise people who have their own health and fatigue issues. That’s not what this article is about. I also don’t offer a miracle cure. Quite the opposite. There are many reasons why people are unwell and feel the way they feel, and I’m a huge advocate for individually tailored healing plans.
This blog is about me sharing my story and my findings, that’s all. And if it resonates with some, that’d be lovely. But this is just one perspective on this topic. I’ve also decided to be very frank about it as I feel this is still a taboo topic, especially in the healing community, which is quite a paradox really and baffles me.
So where am I at now?
I’m at a place of gratitude and peace. The weird thing is…I’m grateful that things have happened the way they did. It all happened in divine timing and had a purpose. Was it a rocky ride with lots of ups and downs to get better? Hell yeah. I still think of myself in recovery. Probably will be for the rest of my life. I still have days with pain and tiredness, but that’s okay. I’m happy. I’m having lots of moments of peace, joy and vitality…like I really feel awake and alive. Prioritising my own healing allowed me to really look at my shadow side, and having a look at all the things that were lurking in the dark, waiting to be acknowledged, accepted, healed, integrated and cared for.
And I so badly wish I could tell the old version of me, that there is a pot of gold waiting in the dark to be discovered. The things that we fear also hold the keys to freedom, peace, happiness, purpose and essentially, re-connect us with our own essence and power. It’s a gift in disguise. However, it won’t be handed to you freely. It’s part of one’s life purpose to start the journey inwards, and not just into the comfortable areas, but also into our dark part. No one can do that for you, unfortunately. The first step to reconnect with your power is to want it, and starting the journey or taking up the journey again if you took a break from it. I find healing comes in waves and layers, and sometimes people step away from it for a while, and then life nudges (or pushes not so gently) them to take the next step forward in their healing.
So, if you read this… and it resonates with you… maybe it’s an opportunity for you to take a step towards your own healing? Maybe it’s time for you to have a look at your shadow side and embrace yourself as a whole? Don’t let your mind stop you… it doesn’t have to be with me or through this site… but if you have read this whole article from beginning to end… there might be a side in you that craves some form of change. Listen to these whispers. They are very important messengers. What do they say?
And I’d love to be part of your journey if you feel this information here resonates with you.
Sending you all lot of love, healing and peace,
PS: Also, please don’t forget to check out the Soulful Library with free resources if you are interested in this topic.
PPS: If you like what you have read, and it resonates with you… why not share it with 3 people?