“It is never too early or too late to care for the well-being of the soul” –Epicurus
As I was away on vacation this past week, I spent some time reflecting on what my definition of self care truly is — as well as what it represented to me in the past. I recently found an old journal entry from years ago that listed out many of my blessings at that time. My kids were babies then, and just a few moments of solitude (and the opportunity to pluck my eyebrows in peace) were hugely important then… Seems so basic now! But, times do change and personal needs change as we travel along in life. Part of what makes life so dynamic is identifying the ways we navigate into new territory and integrate parts of ourselves that were once dormant (possibly dormant for substantial phases of our lives). When these parts of ourselves (again, these patterns within us are called archetypes) make themselves known, we experience all of their complexity.
For example, when I first became a mother, I came to the realization that I had a strong advocate archetype within me. When my children were babies, they had colic – and since they couldn’t advocate for themselves, I had to do it for them. I had to push hard on their pediatricians (research in hand — yes, I have the student archetype as well!), and eventually I got somewhere and was able to get some prescriptions and some progress. From that point forward, I informed anyone who seemed to be going through the same problem what I had learned from my experience. I used to teach before becoming a mother, and also have a teacher archetype that is now a companion part of me even if I’m not in the classroom anymore.
All of these examples are just some of my archetypes that have evolved and changed over time. From what I’ve studied, we have about 12 going at any given time. In fact, when we first meet people, we do so with certain archetypes that represent what we want (or don’t want) them to know about us! Food for thought, right?
The important message is this: the more we know about our own archetypes, the more equipped we are to care for ourselves, and others. Personally, I’ve learned that as life circumstances have changed and as I have dug into new (or maybe old?) places within myself, I have a different orientation regarding how I approach my self-care. This realization spurned on some questions:
How have I gained ground in discovering / managing the signals my soul has brought to my attention? Are they authentic, or just distractions?
If they are real (and would help me to grow), have I ignored them? Why?
These are questions that are often answered when we spend time quietly with ourselves. No need for long meditation sessions…just a bit of time in reflection often brings to the surface the needs we have within us that may or may not have been witnessed otherwise.
Here are some ways I’ve found can help the clearing process: