Lurking Behind the Curtains at the Talent Show

Self-care provides the tools to dig deeper into mental health and mental well-being.

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Can the problems of the world be solved with self care? Right or wrong, I think they can. Not in the “let’s get a mani-pedi kind of way,” although that has good points, too. No, I’m talking the soul searching kind of self-love.

The tragedy in Florida last week highlights a couple of things for me. We ignore or misunderstand mental health issues, and we have a tendency to latch onto fear and hate when we’re lost and searching for ourselves. Had the young man experienced a world that was more filled with love rather than the hate groups he associated with or had he be given tools to deal with his thoughts — like meditation and journaling — would this tragedy have happened?

Perhaps, but then again, maybe not. We’ll never know the answer to that question. But we can create a world where this sort of event happens less often.

I’ve said many times on here that if we love ourselves then we’re more loving to those around us. It begins to permeate our environment, and it’s a good thing when it does. This entire blog talks about how self-care allows us to be more loving and understanding.

One thing we don’t talk much about in the self-care realm is mental health. Sure, we talk about mindfulness. Inner peace. Calmness. Those are all positive features of mindful self-care and mental well-being. As I’ve said a few times on here, though, sometimes to really have an impact, self-care needs to dig a little deeper. We need to get to know our shadow selves.

I wrote previously that to truly love yourself and care for yourself, you have to accept your whole self — the good, the bad and the ugly. Self-care, when it’s done right, opens the door to let that happen. It gives you the tools to cope with things you don’t like — even if those things are within you. It allows you to look at them honestly without judging yourself. From there, you have the true ability to move forward, to grow or to heal — whatever it is you may need to become a healthier, stronger person.

Self-care has helped me in my own journey in understanding my shadow self. I’ll admit that it has taken some time, but I’m making progress. I fought it in the beginning. Things started coming to light that I didn’t believe or maybe I just didn’t want to believe.

At some point in the process, when I had gotten my body to the place it needed to be, my diet where it needed to be, I was able to open up and investigate the shadows. I began to talk to a counselor to deal with some of the emotional challenges I have had in the past.

I figure if I put that much work into improving the outside, then I need to put at least as much effort into improving the inside. Otherwise it’s just a good paint job on a jalopy.

Now from the beginning, my self-care has included mindfulness and trying to achieve inner peace. Now, it’s going deeper.

My journey has brought to light that I was traumatized in some way. I’ve also learned that I’m not alone. We all suffer some trauma. You simply cannot get through life without it. Human beings are flawed, they make decisions, and sometimes those decisions impact those around us — positively or negatively. The impact varies from person to person and so does the level of trauma, but we all experience it.

Lesson 1: Self-care lets you embrace all aspects of yourself and to accept your shadow elements without judgement.

I’m still in the discovery phase of all this. It seems to be more small, ongoing things instead of some large traumatic incident. Trauma is trauma, though — no matter what form it takes.

I’m not sure how much detail I will share here — I’ll figure that out as I go. What I will share, though, is how self-care is helping me cope with the process. How it led me to a path to improving myself on a level I didn’t even realize I needed.

Trauma, you see, works on the subconscious level. I’m learning that I have developed behaviors (don’t know what those are at this point in the process) that affect various aspects of my life that I’ve struggled with. Where I thought I just had bad luck or that God didn’t like me very much or I had done something that resulted in some very bad karma, I’m starting to see it’s my shadow self lurking behind the curtains at the talent show sabotaging my performance.

Self-care will never erase trauma. I will never fully understand my subconscious or what’s buried there. But I can start to see the emotions certain things bring up and see what behaviors I present as a result of some subconscious messages. From there, I can manage my emotions more. I can change my behaviors. I can grow as a human being, and maybe by sharing some of this, I can help others grow. You see self-care has also given me the strength to be more open about this and try to help others cope with whatever they need to cope with.

Lesson 2: Self-care doesn’t erase trauma, but it can help you manage emotions and change behaviors that result from it.

And although I think of myself as a loving person, I hope this process allows me to become even more loving. If it helps others do the same, then it’s even better. See, I want us to be more than just a loving world. I want the world to be one giant support group. To be a world that loves and cares for one another without preconceptions and judgements rather than just a mass of people who happen to inhabit the same planet.

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