Part I of "Life School" was posted on 7/22/2011. This picks up where that posting left off!
How we care for ourselves is reflected in everything that we do, how we speak and all of our choices. Radical self-care means we honor and respect the deepest aspect of ourselves in all that we do. In order to perform radical self-care it is necessary to come to know ourselves well. Knowing ourselves well is a lifetime journey of understanding. Spending time alone - with self - is one of the most effective ways of self-discovery and one of the most radical counter-cultural activities of today. Many individuals believe that there is something wrong with wanting to be alone. And many of us aren’t consciously connected to the discomfort that comes from being constantly molded and inwardly driven by the culture. Today, this molding is essentially connected to the media, promoting value systems that we are being shaped by unconsciously. In order to become conscious of our self-care habits its ideal to begin to keep record of how we spend our time in activities where we are solely attentive to ourselves, developing time beyond the basics of self-care (washing, grooming, eating, and sleeping).
Parenting How we are/were parented is critical to our well-being. As we come into adulthood, any weaknesses in our parenting process emerge as deficiencies in our ability to connect and communicate optimally. It is through these primary relationships that we first learn how to connect and communicate, so naturally our future relationships emerge from these early imprints. As we become conscious of the relationship aspect of our lives, as we desire change, it becomes our individual responsibility to make changes to our patterns in order to develop the quality of life and relationships we inwardly desire. Finding new parental figures/role models and learning to re-parent ourselves as we grow stronger and clearer are effective ways to begin to shape our current relationships into the quality we deeply seek, or find new relationships as we learn and grow. As we develop the skills of re-parenting ourselves, healing the weak areas of our communication/connection patterns, we are laying the groundwork to become strong and healthy parents in the future. Conscious parenting means we grow even more healthy and aware patterns of connection and communication with our children, passing on new habits that enhance everyone’s well-being.
Work life What do you do? In our culture we seem to get defined by this aspect of our life. This does not mean that our work does define us, but it can be one way of how we express ourselves in the world. If we are unhappy in our work life, it spills over into the other parts of our world, causing stress to us as well as for those with whom we share our life. Honoring who we are through finding well-fitting work can be a wonderful life quest. Developing our strengths through our work life can be an avenue of personal fulfillment. Thinking of work life as a life-long journey that evolves as we do individually, will help keep this part of our life vibrant and alive. When we stagnate in any work, we feel this as a sense of “little death”. “Little death” is the experience of loss, when something we have known or loved is gone. If we lack a sense of satisfying self-expression in our work, we often feel as though something in us is lost or gone. We can revitalize this aspect of ourselves by remaining conscious to our work in a day-to-day kind of way, knowing how it is fulfilling for our self-expression, moving on when it no longer fulfills.
Recreation Recreation, I like to break this word into its parts and then the meaning jumps out at me - “re” and “creation”. “Re” means new or again, and “creation” –means to give new life. Recreation is about how we recreate our energy, how we refresh ourselves. Recreation is a vital part of a healthy life. We may not be in touch with just how vital to our well-being recreation is, thinking perhaps it is a frivolous investment of time. It is important to consider what we are doing as recreational activities, because this is what we are doing to recreate ourselves. Without bringing consciousness to this aspect of our life experience, we may be mindlessly engaging in activities that are not really supporting well this aspect of individual refreshment in healthy or meaningful ways. If television is a mainstay of recreation, considering how this impacts our well-being and whether it provides true refreshment can bring more conscious choice to how we invest any free time.
When we feel like our life is not in a good place, when we feel a sense of frustration or dissatisfaction, it is helpful to consider life in the main categories listed here - money management, time management, relationship health, self-care, parenting, work life, and recreation. Taking time to assess your skill level in these areas and then considering investing time into enhancing any deficient areas can mean an overall improvement in the quality of life. Not to mention feeling stronger and more authentically powerful inside!