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  • Writer's pictureHeather Koubek

Self care part 3: our neurology

This post may be hard to digest, but here it is: your relationship with your own body supersedes any health interventions you may seek out. It supersedes your own genetic map. What does this actually mean? Let me explain.

There are so many wonderful choices for us now in regards to taking better care of ourselves. Yoga. Psychotherapy. Acupuncture. Bodywork. Supplements. Meditation. The list is long, diverse and amazing. Choosing one or many of these for yourself is a wonderful thing! It means you have begun the journey to a different daily existence. So bravo!

The reason why many of these interventions end up plateauing for us is because of a more profound issue: our relationship with our bodies. Our deep, unconscious belief system about how our bodies function, how they look, what we feel they are capable of. This belief system was created long ago, with huge influences from our families, societies, educations, cultures and religions. Our unconscious brain, the emotional and survival parts, makes up 90% of how we process the world. That means that so much of how we see ourselves lies in this vast expanse in which we have very little conscious awareness. UNTIL WE DO. When we begin the practice of taking a look at these processes, and how they affect the outcomes of all of these things we are trying to do to feel better in our own skin, we can fully embrace these self care interventions.

Many of us, particularly women, have been given so many contradictory messages about our bodies that have been deeply ingrained within our unconscious psyches. We have been given messages that our value lies solely within our ability to give to others. Our hearts, our time, our minds; the deeds to these belong externally. This hard wires into our unconscious brain that taking care of ourselves, being connected to our bodies, is not a safe space to inhabit. This can make us physically uncomfortable when taking time to care for ourselves. Moments in which we are not doing for others registers within our nervous systems as unsafe. So we disengage from our own systems. This wiring keeps firing efficiently and consistently. So we read our self-help books, seek out new ways of eating, sleeping, breathing, moving. And still many of us feel stuck. Many of us abandon these interventions after a short time.

This neurological wiring, this deep sense that connecting to ourselves makes us less valuable or worse, will cause harm to those we care for, allows us to only embrace this journey reluctantly and with much unconscious resistance. Because our wiring maps out these outcomes.

So then what can we do? As I always say, in every single post, we can begin to explore curiously how we feel about your own bodies, how we feel in our own bodies. How do you physically feel when you take time for yourself, to read, exercise, etc? How do you talk to yourself internally? What words do you use to describe your health to others? How does your family of origin relate to their own health? Do you feel it is your destiny is to feel unwell? Do you feel your body will inevitably fail you? Make this a curious journey. Note when you feel the most uncomfortable. Pay close attention to the quiet moments in which you put yourself first; where does your mind go, how does your body react physically? In the beginning, alleviate any pressure and just notice, without judgment, anger or fear. Just. Observe. Bring the unconscious, automatic responses into the conscious. Once you do this, you being to physically re-wire these old pathways- this is what neuroplasticity is.

The ability of our nerves to light up new pathways, and darken old ones. This is mindfulness. THIS is how we can begin to fully embrace this wonderful world of self-care that is being thrown at us at every turn. Having these things available to us is great. Being able to invest not just our money, but taking a deep dive into our underlying belief systems is the key to true success.  Our conscious brain gets it! We need to value ourselves more!  We need to prioritize our overall heath more! But since the conscious brain has 10% input into how we roll out through the day, the unconscious parts need much more attention, because at the end of the day, this is what has final say in whether or not we can make true progress in this journey of self-care.

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