What is Healing? Part 3: Self-care is Sexy
This is the third entry in a 4-part series. The series has one focal question: “what is healing?” The first entry defined healing, and distinguished it from curing. This second article discussed pain and suffering. This third article will be on self-care and its role in illness prevention, health maintenance, and human growth and evolution. The final part of this series will conclude with a discussion of the importance of sustainable health care practices, both on a national scale and on a personal, day-to-day level.
Self-care is Sexy
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
As my friend Reid Mihalko points out in this video about relationships and self-expression, success in the new “relationship economy” is not just built on duration, but on depth and authenticity. That being the case, he argues, the way to attract a potential lover is not to correctly perform the actions that will make you attractive, but instead to maximize your authentic self-expression; it is by showing the world who you really are that those who will want to be with the real you will see and recognize you.
“But Doc,” I can imagine you saying, “what does that have to do with healing? And what does that have to do with self-care?” These are excellent questions! I will say that in fact “healing” and “authentic self-expression” are synonymous! Remember the definition I offered for healing in the first article in this series:
Healing is the process by which all of the parts of a person (animal, living system) are brought into balanced expression and free use.
Under this definition, simply being, expressing and sharing who and what you are is healing. Remember also that, in contrast to curing, which is something someone does to you, healing is what you do. Assembling all of these parts, then, we get the following equation (real math nerds in the audience will forgive my broad use of the term):
What you do to become more free to express who you really are
Attracting the people you want to be with into your life
Let’s be real and honest, though: expressing your authentic self can be frightening. It is not easy or trivial to share ourselves, especially with strangers. This is where getting help from professional healers becomes really important. Good healing work with a skilled healer evokes the best in you by helping you to feel safe enough to risk being vulnerable and honest, first with yourself, then with your healer, then finally with the people in your life. Excellent self-care often begins with investing time, energy, and money into developing the skills and strategies necessary to share yourself fully with the world. It then transitions into practices and exercises you can continue on your own to keep evoking and sharing your real self.
“Doc,” you may now be saying, “what does that have to do with illness prevention and the maintenance of health?” To that I have to say that you ask really good questions! 80% of all illness is stress-related. That means that if you have a lot of stress in your life and body, then you are more likely to develop one of those stress-related illnesses, or worsen an existing condition. A common source of stress for all of us is the effort we expend on hiding who we are, pretending to “fit in,” or convincing other people to like us. Life can be much less stressful when we invest our energy into expressing ourselves instead of hiding ourselves. Being who you are, and sharing who you are, is good for you precisely because it is less work than hiding. Authenticity isn’t just more fun, it’s less stressful, and therefore more healthy and healing.
Finally, remember that healing is an ongoing process. Just as balance is not a static state that, once achieved, simply holds itself in place, healing is a dynamic balancing act, involving continual refinement and improvement. And there is no ceiling on our healing and self-expression, because who we are is constantly changing! When we are engaged with the healing process, we become archaeologists of our own selves, unearthing, cleaning, and displaying what we’ve uncovered. And it is this process of uncovering and sharing ourselves that draws others to us.
Join me for the final article in this series next time, where we will explore what it will take to build truly sustainable health care for ourselves and for our world.