Move your mind, Move your body, Move your soul.
This is a topic that I have been thinking about, embodying, and journaling/creating/doodling for some time. As with many "outlandish" topics that I dive into, I felt like I needed EVIDENCE before I share my thoughts with others. Today, I've decided to share this post as a work-in-progress. It's not perfect and neither am I. And if I practice what I preach, it's the perfect time to share and be vulnerable.
In my experience, the key to happiness, health, joy, connection, peace -- is love.
Stay with me.
I have worked in the healthcare industry since 2000. I know, I know, it's broken. We all say this. We can identify the challenges, the things we don’t like, the high costs, the fact that coverage doesn't seem to cover very much, the long wait times, the list goes on.
Today, I work in the area of health care quality. Outcomes. We look at programs and data to evaluate whether or not our interventions are making people healthier. Spoiler alert: they are not.
Early in my career, I worked at an AIDS hospice and saw first hand that the basis for improved health starts with food & shelter. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs indicates that people try to move forward to satisfy their needs, starting with food/shelter, moving towards safety and then on and on towards self-actualization. I personally think that "Safety" includes emotional safety and unconditional love is included in that line. I believe that love is foundational to our well-being and engagement in life.
It's really tough to feel physically well when you don't have a place to sleep or aren't sure when you will eat again. At the house where I worked, we saw immediate improvement in T-cell counts after a few weeks of regular meals, timely medication, and shared safe space.
The health care "industry" is finally starting to think about the other elements of human's lives that contribute to health with the new buzz around on social determinants. The irony in all of this is that, of course, we can't solve these problems from our tiny little boxes and silos that we put ourselves in.
And the big behemoth industry isn't going far enough to solve social determinants, and we need to work together across education, local government, social services and non-profits. Patience is not my number one virtue; I cannot wait for someone else to figure it all out. We can't rely on one president, one doctor, one guru, one smartie who will tell us all what to do (and then we'd better do it). I don't like to feel helpless in solving the problem.
The challenges we face in our world are all related. It doesn't stop at health care - you can see similarities across the climate crisis, racism, addiction, gun violence, the school safety issues, the corruption, the corporate greed.
The connection is the myth that we are separate from each other.
Spoiler alert: we are not separate from each other. On the contrary, we need each other. We share fears and failures. We share emotion and the need to feel love. We share humanness.
When we judge others, blame others, mock others - we dehumanize them (and ourselves). We make them separate from us in an effort to protect ourselves, when all it does is feed this story of isolation. We pick sides. We fight to be right. Separate, isolate, repeat.
We also attempt to numb our feelings, hide ourselves, and self-isolate with drugs, alcohol, work, exercise, television, scrolling FaceBook.
We keep telling ourselves stories that we are not enough. That we will feel better once we have the house, once we lose 10 pounds, once we have a husband, once we get divorced. And then, there we are. And turns out it wasn't enough.
We try to take what we can, for ourselves. We fear that if you get it, then I don't and there's never enough to go around.
(Of course, there is plenty to go around. But more on that in a different post.)
It's an inside job, Dr. Lissa Rankin says in her Ted Talk on resolving feelings of loneliness. And we have to do it together. We all have internal work to do, childhood traumas, baggage, and unresolved emotions. So it's yours to do. And it's mine to do. We all have work to do. So while it is an "inside job", it's also collective and humanizing and communal.
The primary relationship in your life is with yourself. When that relationship is in tact, when you have your own back, when you love yourself (all the parts - even those you would prefer to ignore), you will be able to share that love, compassion, and connection with those around you.
Science agrees. Do you need proof that self-love and compassion isn't just woo woo? (it's ok):
Today? Here's what you can do:
1. Decide to do the work. If you want to make a change in this world, in your own life, you must decide. Choose it.
2. Notice what comes up. The shame and the blame. Pay attention to how you judge yourself and others. (This doesn't need to turn into a blaming cycle, but a noticing and letting go cycle. Be kind to yourself. We are all there, too)
3. Anchor & Embody. Come back to yourself with gentleness. Practice compassion for your humanness. Let go of the story you tell yourself - it is only a story. Breathe. Get quiet. Connect with nature, the divine, your breath.
4. Express. Get it out. Create, speak, use your voice. Say what you are here to say. Be vulnerable with yourself and test it out with a few close to you.
5. Rest, renew, restore. Celebrate your work. This is effort and it's worth it. Notice what happens.
We have the tools we need to heal ourselves. When we feel connected to ourselves and others, we will find the well within.
You gotta feel it to heal it.