Today’s article is an example of how we can learn to care for ourself by observing nature. To watch live footage of this personal growth adventure with a mother fox and her kits, click to see the YouTube Grow Show–and subscribe if you’d like to receive weekly shows.
A poem to invite mother-like care for ourself:
A knowing look
She’s always there
Explore? You bet!
Without a care.
Where are we when we need us?
Do we look to others to support our physical, mental and/or emotional well-being? If so, we may not know how to “be there” for ourself.
What is “being there” for ourself?
“Being there” for ourself means the same thing it would if we were to “be there” for someone else, plus more. By being there for ourself, we care for our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. We take time to listen and care for our thoughts, feelings, needs and wants–not just the “good” ones … all of them.
“Being there” for ourself feels safe and secure.
By being there for ourself, we give ourself feelings of safety and security that someone cares. Instead of criticizing and punishing ourself, we choose to learn, accept, guide and support ourself. And consistent inner acceptance, guidance, support and love make us feel safe and secure.
“Being there” for ourself builds trust.
By “being there” for ourself, we build inner trust that we will always “be there” to walk ourself through whatever we may experience—any emotion, any situation, any thought and feeling. We build trust with ourself by staying present with our experience, no matter what. We build inner trust by not abandoning our experience. We build inner trust by not burying our experience of suffering alive with food, drink, drugs, sex, sweets, gambling, porn, work or whatever. We build inner trust by standing tall in our truth, like a tree—not making ourself small so others feel better (aka enabling their fear).
When we trust ourself, we experience more of ourself and life.
When we know that no matter what happens, we trust ourself completely to be fully present and our best, we are free to experience all of ourself and life without fear. Even if we were physically in bondage, no one could imprison our thoughts, emotions or our inner experience of life, because we are there to care for all parts of ourself. When we’ve built inner trust, we are free to experience our whole self and life fully.
When we’re afraid, we may not know how to “be there” for ourself.
Can we remember a time when we may have felt afraid? When we feel fear, this is when we need to be there for ourself the most! To learn to “be there” for ourself now, we can observe an example from when we felt fear in our past.
How we care for ourself says volumes about the character of our soul. Do we lack basic care for our own needs, wants, thoughts, feelings and dreams? Do we abandon our own thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams in an attempt to “keep” others close? Are we unaware of our thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams, nearly assuring that they become a reality?
How do we approach “being there” for ourself?
Being there for ourself can be the most rewarding and empowering thing we do. The first step to learning to be there for ourself is to be wholeheartedly willing to stay present to curiously observe all our thoughts, feelings and situations, without escaping or criticizing them. When we do, we provide ourself with the most basic type of compassionate care.
Steps to “being there” for ourself.
Step #1 Be willing to observe ourself–in all ways.
Being wholeheartedly willing to fully and honestly observe ourself is required to “be there” for ourself. We are the source of all information about ourself. If we are unwilling to observe our thoughts, emotions, needs, dreams, fears, “good,” and “bad,” etc., then we may stay stuck in cycles of blame, shame, drama and addiction.
Step #2 Observe ourself.
What we observe about ourself can be a tool for personal growth. We may observe, for example, short and shallow breaths, inability to make eye contact, tightness in our heart or throat, irritable tone of voice, and other characteristics.
Step #3 Compassionately care.
After observing our state of being, we can learn to “be there” and care for ourself in ways that bring our thoughts and emotions, needs, dreams, etc. into a balanced reality. For example, if we observed that we were short of breath and had trouble making eye contact, we might take time to do some deep breathing techniques to steady our breathing. We might take time to journal to learn, acknowledge and validate our experience, and explore options for self-care. We might ask ourself some questions and listen to the answer. Questions like “how do I feel” “what do I need” “what do I really need?” The answers may be different for everyone. However, compassionate care involves making choices that increase long term joy and vitality by add life to our life! Care does not involve making choices that provide a quick fix, or intense pleasure followed by pain or death.
Any step adds life.
By taking any of the above steps and learning to “be there” for ourself, we add life to our life. It’s not a game of perfectionism, all or nothing or comparison to others. Learning to be there for ourself is all about giving ourself the solid foundation of staying present with our experience of life and providing optimal care in each moment.
Nature can teach us how to “be there.”
I recently watched a mother fox as her three kits played. The mother fox was a great example of how to “be there” for her little ones. She did not scold or overreact. She simply let the kits be, running, jumping, playing and exploring life’s terrain. She sat on a rock. The kits would run and run until they were out of sight of their mother. She stayed on the rock. They played some more, she stayed on the rock. When the kits wanted to make sure that mom wasn’t gone, they would return to her, nuzzle and prod, roll around in the grass, and then leave again to play and explore some more.
Being there for ourself provides comfort, connection and compassion.
Learning to “be there” for ourself, as the mother fox was there for her kits, we feel safe to live, play and explore. Learning this skill need not be difficult. For example, the next time we feel irritated, rather than pretending that we are “fine” and lying to ourself and others that we are not irritated, we can refuse to abandon our experience. We can observe our irritation. We can accept our irritation. We can ask it questions and learn more about it, and what we think, feel and need. And we can care about our long-term wellbeing by making healthy choices. And, we can do all this without taking out our irritation on others, or expecting anyone (even ourself) to change.
No one can learn, observe, accept or care for us the way we can. The more we choose to observe what we experience in our inner nature and what’s out in nature, the more real-life comfort, care and compassion we will experience in ourself and life!
If you’d like a fresh perspective as you learn to observe nature, accept life as it is, and allow more wonder into your world, explore how a complimentary conversation or a package of conversations can invigorate your growth.
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Always with love,