I’ve been a bit “under the weather” for the past couple of days and I’ve held off from writing. Then it dawned on me; there is no part of our daily living that couldn’t use a little reflection. “Health” was really the “presenting symptom” of this week’s thoughts…
Having spent the morning sneezing like mad, I was a bit disoriented when, at 2pm, my frightfully loud buzzer sounded, launching me out of my chair. My dear friend (we’ll call him Fred) stood in the doorway wide-eyed. (Yes, I was dressed.) My mind was on alert, “2pm, he should be at work…” After some brief banter he got down to the reason for his visit.
“I called the nurse at my insurance company,” he said, “described what I was feeling, and she told me to get to the emergency room.”
“Ah…”said I, “I’ll come with,” and out the door we went.
Being in the ER is no one’s choice of how to spend an afternoon, especially if you don’t know if your friend Fred is having a heart attack: not fun stuff, but certainly real.
Fred and I spoke of many things during the several hours we waited to find out what was going on. A prevailing theme repeated itself throughout the afternoon: what does it mean to take care of “You”?
The vast majority of us spend so few hours honoring this miraculous body we travel within. Collectively we: eat too much, drink too much, smoke too much, play too little, exercise too little and allow ourselves too little down time to simply “be”. And you know what… it does catch up to us eventually. Sadly, too many of us wait until something devastating happens before we honor our unique message by caring for our bodies. Seriously, most of us take better care of our cars than we do our selves!
So, why do we take such poor care of ourselves?
It’s my opinion that this self-negligence stems from not knowing who we are. If we don’t know who we are, we can’t know our own value. While there are many forms and causes of depression, not knowing our value can lead to those feelings, and self-abuse. How does this play itself out in the life of the average person?
Knowledge of self = recognizing your value = taking care of yourself.
What does it look like when we take care of ourselves?
As I sit here sipping my ginger tea and coughing my fool head off, I ponder this question. Taking care of “You” means:
- Doing those things you know are good for you even if you’re not clear on your own value. If you pursue self-knowledge you will begin to see what you bring to the world.
- Believing in yourself, even when you’re not so sure of who that is.
- Standing up for yourself especially when the only threat is coming from your Saboteur .
- Recognizing that if you’re not here to state your unique message, that message will go unspoken. You must be here to make your contribution.
So, all of this gets a little heavy, huh? Yeah, you’re right, I am deadly serious about this. Sure, we all get run down and catch a cold every now and then. We all eat a bit too much cake, drink a little too much, and gain a few pounds. What’s so wrong with that? It’s not that it’s “wrong”; the big question is how are you enabling yourself to be the best, most fully realized and contributing person you choose to be?
Think about an athlete. They train everyday, eat the right combination of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, etc. because they have a vision of where they want to go, and nothing will stand in their way.
What are you in training for? Where do you envision yourself going and how are you supporting yourself in getting there?
As the Buddhists say, “everything in moderation, including moderation.”
I’m not advocating becoming a strict vegan (unless that floats your boat), but I am saying that you have to learn to listen to your body’s unique communication. What does your body really want from you? Believe me, it tells you everyday, all the time. That thing “you know you should do,” is a message from your body… listen.
Most of us have learned to ignore our body’s pleas and instead we give in to “instant gratification” and the Devil (aka your Saboteur) take tomorrow. (And he will… believe me.) Your Saboteur is seeking to control your environment, and in its vain attempts to “protect” you from the “unknown”, your Saboteur seeks to isolate you by telling you all those nasty things that keep you down. It stands in the way of your getting to know your true self.
This “instant gratification” is what fills the hole left by not knowing our own value. When we send our Saboteurs away, and give ourselves the time to learn about the magnificent people that we are, our returning sense of self fills that hole.
So, if you want to enjoy today and tomorrow, what do you need to do right now? What will you do? Learn to listen to your heart: listen to your body. Enjoy, the occasional cookie, or a glass of wine, but remember its what you do every day that counts.
Now its time to look into the mirror; what does it mean for me to take care of me? Honor my unique message by applying daily disciplines including: eating right, scheduling more time with family & friends, ensuring that I maintain that vital life balance between work and play. How about you?
You’re probably all wondering about Fred. Fred, as he put it, got a wake up call. Turns out he has acid reflux which can mimic a heart attack. Of all the things I heard him consider that afternoon, this was a blessing, and an opportunity to choose who would be in charge of his tomorrows… him or his Saboteur.
Always infinite possibilities… always your choice.
*Song Credit: “Button Up Your Overcoat” Annette Hanshaw, 1929