I have been learning about true self-care over the last 10 years and from putting simple self-care techniques into practice I have enjoyed my life, myself and my body more and more over those years. However, I recently realized that I had been overlooking an area of my life where I have not been truly caring for myself.
In the last 2 years, myself, close friends and colleagues have all been targets of cyber-bullying that seems somehow to be an acceptable form of expression in our technologically advanced world, under the banner of ‘Freedom of Speech’. However, what disturbed me more than the actual cyber-bullying, was my lack of outrage and motivation to stop this intellectual and emotional abuse to which we were being subjected.
In asking myself why I didn’t react with outrage, I realised one of the reasons was that I had normalized this type of intellectual and emotional abuse from when I was young.
It is really disturbing to find how common bullying via the internet is affecting people both personally and professionally. Cyber-bullying is another obvious abuse and since I have been the target of this abuse I have done my own mini research into where abuse starts.
I cringe at the way my siblings and I used to talk to each other in fights over the most insignificant things. We would literally sneer at each other, sling nasty names at each other and try and verbally hurt each other from our own reactions and hurt. We all used to walk away from these interactions emotionally bruised and we just hardened in our bodies to cope.
We are all born naturally sensitive, gentle and tender and none of us start off name slinging and criticizing when we are toddlers. Many children lose touch with this natural gentle tenderness as they get older. It seems like adults and parents accept as normal the competition, fighting and name calling that often goes on between siblings as they grow up. Kids do this in reaction to hurts they are not aware they have and in their hurt they lash out at others. This really is a form of abuse and it often starts at home when we are really young.
Years later I learnt that burying these hurts caused more emotional harm than a physical punch to the body.
I remember the occasional times when my brother punched me there was the obvious bruise so I could not dismiss the hurt – it would heal and I would accept that – after my initial reaction – and let the incident go. In hindsight I would have far preferred my sibling punched me rather than the deeper emotional hurt that I would bury and hold onto for years.
In my 30 years of working as a health professional I have learnt from thousands of clients that it is precisely these emotional hurts that are far more damaging than the physical ones. When they tell me about childhood emotional traumas – it can be 30, 40 or 50 years ago –they still cry as they retell these moments from when they were little.
As they talk about these events I have observed how old tension patterns in the layers of their soft tissue let go and soften. The body areas affected by this old tension become more fluid and flexible.
When do we numb ourselves from this type of hurt and virtually say to ourselves and others that this form of intellectual and emotional abuse is OK? This got me thinking; do we consider that in a fit of frustration, rolling our eyes and criticising our friends, family or colleagues could be labelled as abuse too – and that we have accepted it as part of ‘normal’ living?
15 years ago I had a pivotal moment during a presentation from Serge Benhayon of Universal Medicine, on the profound simple truths that were shared on living a simple, more self-caring and gentle way of life.
Over the last 10 to 15 years I have changed the way I live: I am less driven and critical of myself, I appreciate and care for myself more and now I enjoy my life, myself and my body more and more. The simple truths that were shared all made sense to me. These truths were for example:
• that we are all sensitive and feel things all the time – such as the moods others are in or what is behind their reactions to us, and
• that we are all in essence love – equally so, however we often don’t live from that essence but from our protections and emotional patterns.
I have listened to my body over the years by feeling how it responds to how I live in it, which has helped me to reconnect to this more natural, gentle way of living. I have learned how and why I do things, from observing myself and others in a detached and curious way. This has helped me understand old patterns of abusive behavior I had towards myself, for example, pushing myself to finish 30 laps of swimming when my body was feeling content at 20 laps. I have learned to appreciate that my body always gives me true messages about how I treat it.
As I have returned to being more naturally gentle and self-caring, I have started to say No to any emotional abuse – in the way I am with others and the way they are with me.
I can feel how self-loving it is to say no to a sarcastic or critical comment, as when I do I feel my body relax and the pockets of tension in my soft tissue release and unwind.
This has supported me to enjoy and respect myself and others again and to be able to say No to intellectual and emotional abuse. It has been a gradual and ongoing process and I am learning as I go how truly caring and loving this is for myself and others too.