Pillars of Health: Sense of Self

Purpose, Love, & Energy

“You cannot be selfless without first being selfish”

sense of selfHealth starts and ends with your Sense of Self. In layman’s terms: You are no good to anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself first.  A lack of Self- and ensuing self-care- tends to be an area of opportunity for many: When you are constantly prioritizing the needs of others or other tasks above your own, health gradually declines and it becomes increasingly difficult to focus on one’s own goals. Retaining a Sense of Self within the context of your environment is quite often the rate-limiting step before things like movement and nutrition can be true priorities.

 

Does each day start with taking care of you or are you putting on everyone else’s life jackets first?

The concept of Self also involves love: something absolutely essential to overall health despite those who find it too “new age” to believe. Research has shown that simply having a loved one nearby reduces symptoms in chronic pain patients and aids early stages of recovery from surgery.

When it comes to Self, basing daily decisions on love – for oneself and others- is fulfilling on a deep level and encourages healthier behaviours. Basing decisions on fear, anger, or punishment breeds anxiety and creates problems and resentment. We can be our own worst critics but none of our failures, real or perceived, should place conditions on love.

Do you move, eat, take time, and act out of love for yourself or punishment?

Further to a Sense of Self is a sense of purpose. What is your “Why?” in life & in health? Having a purpose has been shown to increase longevity: Who wouldn’t want to get up each day feeling like they have a driving force and vision to work towards? A purpose gives meaningful direction to daily actions and helps to prevent us from making decisions that can ultimately create chaos, sabotage, and emotional dissonance within our lives.

Do you have a purpose or “Why?” behind your goals and daily drive?

All told, if you’re taking care of yourself before helping others, and if you're loving (yourself) unconditionally and living with purpose, the cascade into overall health is immeasurable. So where does energy fit? In truth, everywhere. Caring for yourself and saying “no” when needed maintains personal energy for every important “yes”; loving yourself conserves energy while fear drains it; purpose gives you the energy to get through the sticking points.

Take daily notes of the things that drain you and equally of the things that "fill your cup"

How To Enhance Your Sense of Self

If you find yourself constantly prioritizing others and without spare time for you, here is a simple 3-step approach to help you start making more time for your Sense of Self:

  1. Open your calendar and schedule in a recurring appointment with yourself. Start with 5 minutes daily & ONE 30 minute slot per week.
  2. Be sure to set an alarm and/or leave yourself a note so that you don't forget. We all need reminders, particularly with new habits, and this helps make sure you never miss your appointment: honour it with the same respect you would show your closest family member or friend.
  3. During this time there is only one rule: You have to do something for yourself outside of mindless technology. This can fall in line with the other Pillars of Health (Stillness, Movement, etc.). As long as you're doing something that makes you happy and fulfilled, you'll be enhancing your Sense of Self.

A strong Sense of Self with a true understanding of your purpose and needs will always trump willpower when it comes to taking care of your health on a day-to-day basis.

“As a doctor, let me tell you what self-love does: it improves your hearing, your eyesight, lowers your blood pressure, increases pulmonary function, cardiac output, and helps wire musculature…this isn’t just some frou-frou new age notion. This is hardcore science.”
- Dr. Christiane Northrop

pillars of health

Read more about the Move Daily Pillars of Health here.