When you love yourself, you don't hurt people. -Sonia Sanchez
There is a lot circulating in social media and online about “self-care” and “self-love”. Sometimes I get concerned when something proliferates so much that the message gets diluted, distorted, or overly commercialized. While I do think that has happened with self-love and self-care, I also believe strongly in the vital importance of the underlying message, particularly when framed in the context of an extended and interconnected view of self. In many indigenous cultures around the world, “self” is not experienced as an entirely separate entity that exists independently. Self exists only IN RELATIONSHIP– to other persons, to community, to culture, to animals, to the natural world, to Spirit, to ancestors, to descendants, and to the dynamic rhythms of the entire cosmos. Thus, when we speak of self-love or self-care, it can be understood as loving and caring for not only our embodied selves, but also for our relational, communal, cultural, and spiritual selves. I like to talk about “soul-care” because it is at the deep level of soul that we experience the truth of our interconnectedness.
This is all about alignment! In this view, the ultimate self-care question is “How does this act of self-love put me in greater alignment with the interconnected energies within which I live?". This week’s quote reminds us that the stronger we have this kind of deep and interconnected love for ourselves, the less likely we are to engage in behaviors that harm others. Harming others is ultimately harming ourselves; AND harming ourselves by not caring for our own well-being is ultimately harming the interconnected web of life within which we exist. There are so many layers that can be explored, including the role of unintentional harm, and the necessary work of healing our emotional, somatic, relational, communal, and collective wounds. The bottom line is that self-love and self-care are important, particularly when experienced within this consciousness of interconnectedness.
WHAT WILL YOU DO TO LOVE AND CARE MORE FOR YOUR “SELF”?
With Peace, Love, and Soulfulness,
Dr. Shelly Harrell