Self-care and gut health has become quite the buzzwords lately. What these words mean to you may be entirely different to me. What about becoming self-aware? In order for self-care and gut health to work well in our lives, we must be aware of our needs, understand our reactions, and be able to let go of our burdens. The idea of having burdens may sound foreign and you might not recognize them as areas holding you back from being a better caregiver. I know I didn't until I was caring for Mom full time. I didn't even know what it looked like until I couldn't answer a question with a straight yes or no response. “Well, part of me thinks this, and part of me thinks that.” Sometimes, part of me wants to go somewhere, and part of me does not want to move. In other moments, part of me wants to eat a certain kind of food, but then part of me wants to eat something entirely different.
It may sound like many split personalities, but being self-aware about our parts only opens the door to freeing our hearts. Anxiety, stress, and fear are parts of us just as much as joy, silliness, and compassion. Having awareness means acknowledging these many parts of us instead of denying the attention we need. You may have feelings and not realize where they came from or how deep into your psyche they go. There might be a mysterious onion in your heart waiting to be peeled open.
When we care for our loved ones, in an authentic and transparent way, a transformation can take place. Some of us can nurture our loved ones without a thought of regret or hesitation because it comes naturally. Others may have some apprehension towards caring for our loved ones. Those caregivers may be caring for a loved one that hurt them as a child. Survival mode is another part of us that can take over to ensure the job gets done without our emotions getting in the way.
Over the years I spent in the corporate world, I pushed my body beyond its limits to meet the demands and expectations of every micro-manager that dangled the corporate carrot to success. I was aware of my paychecks and performance evaluations more than my own body, mind, and soul. My survival mode was in the mental driver seat to meet their demands while I was unknowingly hurting myself. I did not realize it until my body could not take any more 10-12-hour workdays sitting and binging on comfort junk foods.
Loading my gut with comfort foods and pain meds allowed me to keep pushing through long days until back spasms and sciatic nerve pain made me aware of deeper issues. I did this for years until I started to walk more often. The fresh air and meditative walks made me aware of my body and mind working together to release my inner child. I did not realize how much I needed those walks until I returned to the office for more long days. Later, I began a surrender process to let go of the burdens my inner parts were hanging on to since childhood.
I wondered why this had not happened sooner in my life to avoid the pain and frustration. I was the B.U.S.Y. caregiver back then – Being Under Satan’s Yoke. I was in control of every part of my life – or so I thought, to avoid feeling the uncomfortable emotions that made me feel broken. God uses our pain with the Spirit to shine a light and bring our pain to the surface in His divine timing. My physical pain was the check engine indicator that I ignored several times. I could not recognize many of my parts until I began to care for Mom more regularly. I recognized her parts because I finally acknowledged I had similar parts.
Much of our arguments came from our parts reacting to each other. We were not only mother-daughter switching roles but also wounded children fighting to be heard and acknowledged. Part of my lifestyle changes included becoming a better listener because I wanted to experience a new life with Mom. Being a better listener now includes listening to my body instead of dismissing the warning signs. Emotional trauma from early childhood can remain in our tissue and muscles which become trigger points later in life. The only way to heal and stop the triggers is to learn to be self-aware of those moments.
As time passes, practicing self-awareness has helped me to maintain better self-care and gut health regimens. We must identify our inner child parts to understand them. Self-awareness can then become self-compassion. The transformation is a process, so recognizing our parts does not make them go away. My surrender to the light is a life-long process by allowing the Spirit to guide me through life instead of remaining the B.U.S. Y. caregiver.
Here are other ways I have learned to become more self-aware about my body, mind, and soul:
1. Create a Zen space for quiet meditation.
2. Take time to reflect on recurring feelings and find their origin (longing, fear, anger, insecurities, judgment).
3. Journal about your food cravings and focus on what mood you are in at the time of craving.
4. Ask yourself why you feel certain emotions around different people.
5. Learn to be comfortable in silence. Try driving with the music off and see what surfaces in your mind or heart.
6. Ask God to gently release your true self or to see yourself as He sees you.
7. Begin a surrender process to acknowledge and release your burdens.
Dear Spirit, search me and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. You point out anything in me that offends you; lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23-24
Thank you for joining in and listening with us today. I hope this gave you more food for thought and until next time, BE PROACTIVE. Take care, everybody.
Grace Log Journal:
Intro: Vacation Time by Khris Paradise
Outro: Misty by Khris Paradise