The Unintended Consequences of Self-Care

This year, I ran two rounds of my 11-week course designed to help people actually do the things we all know are the absolute basics of self-care: things like getting enough sleep, eating more plants, sitting in silence, moving our bodies, self-massage, and managing stress.

Each week we focus on a super-basic habit and we all take one, doable small step in the direction of “better.” Pretty soon, that becomes the new normal. Then we take the next step. And as we rinse and repeat, we end up in a totally different place than we’d been heading health-wise. That’s how we Level Up. And as you’d expect, people felt energized and more focused. Their pain levels and weight went down and felt more comfortable in their bodies.

But on the way to automating these simple body habits, bigger changes were brewing for people. The kind of transformation that people were experiencing went way beyond the physical. Here are 7 ways people in my Level Up course evolved:

  1. Shifting from a “fixed” to a “growth” mindset. If you believe that who you are is fixed and you don’t like your current reality, it’s easy to feel hopeless. One of my course members, Diana, fundamentally shifted her belief about her ability to evolve. She’s been struggling to shift her patterns, but she’d bite off more than she could chew, feel like a failure, which would reinforce her belief that change is out of her control. “Deep down, I didn’t really believe I could change. After all, nothing I tried had worked in the past. Now I know better! I am making healthier choices in my daily life. Even better, I’m confident that I can continue to do so.”
  2. Increased self-compassion and less negative self-talk. Rather than slapping our hands away from the proverbial (or literal) cookie jar, and castigating ourselves for our lack of willpower, for example, we get curious about the payoff our current habits are having and try to address what we’re really after. Though it might feel counter-intuitive, self-compassion helps people get back on track more effectively than self-flagellation. Most members report treating themselves with more kindness in thoughts, words, and deeds.
  3. Less perfectionism and black-and-white thinking. Because changing habits is hard, we focus on small changes and giving ourselves credit each time we do them. We recognize that successful people aren’t perfect, they’re just great at bouncing back after missing the mark. Rather than beating ourselves up, we learn from the slip-up and give ourselves credit for what we have been able to accomplish, because even a small change repeated over time becomes the new normal, and that’s how sustainable change happens.
  4. Massive de-cluttering and room re-purposing. Our living spaces reflect what we do in them. So as our habits change, our spaces morph too. Closets became meditation nooks.The bouillon cubes with MSG, the rancid soybean and safflower oil in those gluten-free crackers, the sugar-laden ketchup got tossed. Members took dozens of bags to goodwill, shaping their closets and homes to be more in line with present values than the past.
  5. Relationship Evolution. Just like when you start eating clean but then eat something fake and sugary and immediately notice how yucky you feel, members started to notice how the people in their lives made them feel. Many identified relationships that felt stagnant, that were coasting by on momentum, but which were no longer mutually fulfilling, and are choosing to spend less time with those people. Some drew new boundaries with friends who do drama or constantly complain. Others identified patterns that could become healthier, like meeting for walk instead of a drink. Two might be leaving their jobs at some point soon. Meanwhile, deep friendships are forming amongst the course members because they truly inspire each other, and are working towards each others’ freedom. One described it as “a true spiritual community,” something she’d been missing for a long time.
  6. More happiness, confidence, and capability When you focus on your nourishing your body, you develop a more interconnected relationship with yourself on all levels. Most members describe feeling more present, stronger, and more confident and capable on all levels. For one member processing a past trauma, the course was part of reclaiming a sense of safety in her body, helping her show up with more presence. Another consciously stopped taking on other people’s negative energy, and assuming she’s likely responsible for it.
  7. Ripple effects on the next generation A single mom who wanted to move more is now having morning dance parties with her kids. They all drink water together to make sure they all poop. In the evenings, the whole family is winding down with stretching before bed. These kids are learning the basics of self-care habits that will set them up for a lifetime of health and thriving. Even some spouses and partners started eating better and being more inspired to exercise.

In Chinese Medicine and yoga philosophies, the body, mind, and spirit are inseparable – what happens on one level affects all the others, so these changes weren’t exactly surprising. But they were eye-opening and deeply inspiring. How about you? What are you wanting more of? I’d love to hear about it. If you’re serious about wanting to show up differently in 2018 and like the idea of having community, support, and accountability, click here to see if we’d be a good fit to work together

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