Throughout my recent travels I have been meeting some amazing women that have had much to share with me. One common theme that has been emerging in my conversations is the experience of physical symptoms of overworking. I was fascinated to learn about, mostly women, who have experienced their body shutting down in dramatic ways.
It appears that these individuals became so emerged in their work, that they became disconnected from the messages from their own bodies…until they couldn’t ignore them anymore. These women were experiencing what is known in alternative health communities as a “healing crisis”—a way the body attempts to grab our attention after we have been ignoring the signs and signals. These women were grabbed by the message and now realize that they can no longer continue on living the way they were. Along with this realization comes grief, disappointment, and often a feeling of failure. They wonder why they can’t continue to maintain the pace demanded by their work any longer. They question their self-worth, as they try to re-imagine their contribution to the world. If they are not able to be in the world the way they were, how on earth will they show up in a new, but meaningful way?
This phase of the journey is at once disillusioning, but also empowering. Now that they stepped away from the conditions that were making them physically ill, they begin to notice a new level of energy and begin the self-inquiry into how they will channel this freed up energy.
However, some individuals I’ve spoken to are planning on stepping back into the den—not quite ready to abandon the role they had created for themselves. And, I share these stories because I can relate big time! It took me several years to walk away from a job that was causing me the physical repercussions of stress. I tried to talk myself out of it. Summer break was always just long enough to recover and then head back in, thinking I just needed to rest, practice more yoga, or meditate more. In reality, I needed to listen to myself—to honor my experience and take care of myself. I spent so much energy attending to others, I was not able to take care of myself effectively. And the thing is that it was not my fault. I was never taught, giving permission or allowed the space to explore my own relationship to self.
This is part of the reason I begin Mind-heart-space. I needed to create a safe place where I could explore my own awareness, how I carried myself, the thoughts and beliefs I held, and how those shaped my own self-perception and freedom to be in the world wholeheartedly.
In fact, until fairly recently, it never occurred to me that I even had a relationship to myself—at least the full extent of what a relationship to myself really means. What I’m referring to is the idea, that most of us, including myself, are in an unconscious relationship to ourselves. Probably, like me, you were not encouraged to think about relating to yourself with the same regard you would another person. And, I am not sure, but this seems to be largely a symptom of how many women are acculturated. In a relationship, I tend to give more weight to the other person—this was part of my identity, and a part that was causing me to undermine myself by always putting others first.
This unidentified behavior pattern was causing me havoc both emotionally and physically. But you can’t address what is not conscious. If it’s always, already been that way, how can one hope to distinguish they unhealthy ways of relating to oneself? The only answer I have is that I became sick and tired of not feeling good in my body. So, I slowly built a new way of relating to myself through the medium of meditation, yoga, and other healing modalities. I slowly begin to refuse to make myself uncomfortable for what I imagined to be other’s people’s comfort. I began to notice the inaccurate ideas and beliefs about the world and my relationship to it. I began to slowly put myself first in my life, instead of showing up second. And this opened a whole other door, which I will dig into in the next edition.