A few years ago, the concept of self care was foreign to me. Work was all consuming. If I wasn’t working, I felt guilty. If I felt tired, I would simply push myself through the uncomfortableness. The only time I allowed myself to rest was when I passed out. And eventually I crashed, hard, in the form of a nervous breakdown. Some of us are just so stubborn that the Universe intervenes and forces us to listen. That’s me. I’m some of us.
The message was loud and clear: Self care actually keeps your batteries charged. Imagine driving your car without stopping for gas, or bringing it in for an oil change or a tune up. Those time outs for repair are what keep the car running. Without it, you’ll find yourself broken down on the side of the road. Our bodies work the same way. Whether it’s your muscles or your brain, we need time to recoup the energy we’ve exerted out into the world. Self care is how we keep going.
“There is one thing that must be understood: self care is about you, not anyone else.”
It doesn’t surprise me that I’m not the only one who had trouble understanding the concept of self care. Society demands so much from us. School, work, partnership, children, and family are priorities in most people’s lives. Sometimes those priorities become overwhelming and it’s easy to forget about ourselves. These are the times we must stop and think: What good am I if I run myself into the ground?
Self care comes in many forms. But there is one thing that must be understood: self care is about you, not anyone else. Self care is not doing something someone else wants to do. Self care is not putting your needs aside to take care of someone else. Self care is about your needs.
Self care is saying no to someone else when you already have plans for yourself. If you’ve started running a bath, and your partner or child calls for you to do something, you have the right to say no. You have the right to take that hour to just be without interruption. Unless there’s fire, flood or blood, there’s no need for you to stop what you’re doing. It can wait.
Same goes for plans. It’s true that some occasions call for you to suck it up and go, especially if it’s important to a loved one. But there is a line to be drawn. There is no reason to put yourself in a bad predicament for someone else’s enjoyment. Bad predicaments can be financially, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. If you don’t have money, don’t go. If you have work tomorrow and missing it would severely hurt your financial situation, don’t go. There is a measure of guilt, but at the end of the day, you’ll feel good about making the choice that was right for you.
“There is no reason to put yourself in a bad predicament for someone else’s enjoyment.”
Which brings me to my next point. Don’t wait around for someone to do things with. Trust me, I know it’s frustrating to always be alone. But it’s even more aggravating when you sit around wasting precious time you could’ve been using to do the things that you love. Whether that’s hiking, seeing a movie, eating out, or going to a museum or gym, it’s important that you don’t neglect yourself just because no one else in your life is interested in the same activities.
Take time for yourself while making your priorities a priority. This means getting your work done when it’s supposed to be done and not waiting until the last minute which results in a half ass product, or no product at all. Many people love to self sabotage with procrastination. All this does is continue a cycle of shame and guilt that keeps you locked in a cage of self hate.
You might lie to yourself and claim that trip or that date was necessary, but when it detracts from the goals you set for yourself all it becomes is a distraction. Putting in work to reach your goals builds self esteem and confidence. Neglecting responsibilities only drags you into despair.
“We are responsible for the choices we make.”
There are two polar opposites: those who give themselves too much, and those who deny themselves of everything. Neither one of these choices are healthy. An excess of anything is unhealthy. Someone or something is always on the hurt end of the stick. Whether it’s your credit, your parent’s retirement fund, or your goals, excessiveness will catch up eventually. Spending money on trips, clothes, and other experiences are nice and provide us with a sense security and well roundedness. Yet when it’s done to such excess that it negatively affects our day to day lives, the fun and niceties have become a problem.
On the other hand, making yourself a martyr and denying yourself any pleasures is just as bad and is no doubt hurting you. Making yourself a martyr breeds resentment. Eventually, this resentment is directed toward your kids, your spouse, or whoever it is you feel you have to deny yourself for. At the end of the day though, it’s more than likely no one asked you to forgo every little luxury. We are responsible for the choices we make. The key is to find a healthy balance.
Maybe you can’t afford much, but if none of your clothes fit, is it really going to break the bank to spend less than $50 on a pair of pants at Target or a thrift store? Giving ourselves what we need, be it a pair of pants, higher education, or a spa day, it necessary for our ultimate fulfillment so we can be our best selves for the ones we love.
“Whether it’s saying yes to more things, or saying no, it all starts with acknowledging what you need.”
So do yourself a favor, and take a deep breath in and slowly let it out. Know that no one is perfect and we are all spiritual beings having a human experience. We are here to learn, not have it all figured out. There’s a great deal of self control that comes with self care. Wherever you fall on the self-care spectrum, know that you have the power to balance it out and bring stability into your life.
Whether it’s saying yes to more things, or saying no, it all starts with acknowledging what you need. Be honest with yourself about what you really want, then take that first step. Once you do, you’ll be empowered to do it again, and again, and again. Next thing you know, self care becomes second nature.
Listen to your thoughts. Take a moment to feel the sensations in your body. Our minds and body tell us when something doesn’t feel right, when it’s time to relax, and when we must make a decision that is better for us in the long run. Follow your gut feeling; don’t ignore them. The sooner you start taking care of yourself, the quicker you’ll restore yourself to sanity.
Many people struggle with finding joy in the day to day. Life becomes so mundane that it feels as if they’re just going through the movements, forgetting to experience the little miracles of the world. Miracles that would bring life to existence. Some forget their passions. They stop making time for their hobbies, or maybe never made time for hobbies. Others are plain dissatisfied. Whether it’s with relationships, a job, or something unknown to them, they can’t deny a level of discontent with their position in life as it sits at this very moment.
You may experience one or many of the above mentioned issues at one time or another. Life is not constant; it moves in phases. One week, month, or year we could be up, and the next…we’re just not.
The sacral chakra, or Svadhishthana in Sanskrit, controls the joy and passion we experience in our lives. Svadhisthana translates to “one’s own place.” When we know and understand ourselves fully, we are able to set boundaries needed to have healthy, fulfilling relationships in all areas of our lives. This place keeps your higher self protected, while allowing others to see you fully in order to give the respect you deserve. It is the second chakra located in the pelvic area represented by the color orange. Water is the element of the sacral chakra, symbolizing fluid and changing emotions.
Emotional relating in the 3D world is formed during the developmental stages of childhood. If a child has untrustworthy or unavailable caretakers, a whole litany of issues will arise stemming from low self esteem. For example, a parent who does not allow a child to make his/her own decisions, develop a sense of personal identity, or freedom to express his/her needs will result in an adult who is unsure of his/her self. In psychological terms, this shows up as codependency.
Codependency has a very wide umbrella. Put simply, codependency is allowing the actions of others to affect your emotional wellbeing. That also means using another person or substance as a means of feeling better. For example, a man or woman who relies solely on his or her partner to meet all their emotional needs is codependent. An addict is codependent. Trying to control situations is codependent. A parent whose entire world revolves around his/her child is codependent. The people who accept sex in lieu of love are codependent. Jumping from relationship to relationship is codependent.
The list goes on and on. Basically, if you grew up with any family dysfunction, you most likely have some type of codependent characteristic. A full (and exhaustive) list can be found here. The effects of a skewed developmental stage in childhood leads to imbalances in the sacral chakra.
Signs of an Unbalanced Sacral Chakra
The most obvious is addiction. This can be addiction to anything— shopping, gambling, behaviors, people, drugs, alcohol.
Another sign is promiscuous behavior, or the other extreme, repression of sexual desire altogether. Sleeping around for validation and obsessive sexual thoughts or fantasies also fall under this category.
Codependency is a symptom of a blockage. Trust issues, low self esteem, people pleasing, controlling behavior, and manipulation are all signs of codependency.
Lack of joy or boredom: What’s stopping you from doing the things that you love?
Resistance to change arises with a blocked sacral chakra. Since water is the element that rules the second chakra, one that is balanced would “go with the flow” and accept change as a part of life.
Common Physical Manifestations
Lower Back Pain
Balanced Sacral Chakra
When the sacral chakra is balanced we feel balanced. We are able to process our negative emotions in a healthy way, and maintain an even temper even when things don’t go our way at work, home, or in relationships. Expression of our emotional needs come easily. We are in tune with sexual needs and express them in a safe, loving manner. A balanced sacral chakra is how artists create, relationships accomplish harmony, and mindfulness is achieved.
How to Balance
- Create! Make time for a creative endeavor whether it’s cooking, singing, painting, or jewelry making. It doesn’t matter if you’re good at it. It only matters that you enjoy it. Practice makes progress!
- Practice yoga. This can be done for free with a YouTube video or join a class.
- Wear orange. Orange is a symbol of happiness and job. It is our creative force.
- Eat more orange fruits and vegetables.
- Practice sound healing. The sacral chakra is associated with the key of D. You can sing, play an instrument, use your own song bowl, or have a sound healing done professionally.
- Practice meditation with healing crystals. Guided meditations can be found for free on YouTube, or on apps like Calm, Headspace, and others.
Healing Crystals for the Sacral Chakra:
Did I like you or lust you?
We’ve all been there. You meet someone and feel there’s a genuine connection. You vibe with them; your energies mix creating a blissful aura of peace and harmony. You think this encounter will flourish into partnership because you both like each other. But the universe had a different plan for you. Now you’re left wondering what you could have done to have the outcome you so desperately wanted.
I learned that what we want is not exactly what we need, and what we have, in that moment, is not always reality. Sometimes reality is skewed by the things that we lust and crave. We focus on how that individual is making us feel, not so much who that person truly is. It blinds us from the fact that we may be craving human attention and affection.
I recently found myself in the situation of like versus lust without even realizing it. I was so drawn to the idea that I could be in a relationship, I lost sight of what was important– me.
This past year I have been on a committed journey of self love. Loving myself has been a difficult thing to do but I found that fearlessly setting boundaries and directing my energy on what I really need, and how someone’s actions make me feel, helps me to understand what my best interests are. For the first time I’m asking myself, “what fulfills you.” I am actively practicing self awareness.
As I break free from my own binds of insecurities, I am learning to distinguish what is meant for me and what is not. This is the challenging part, because the old me is always in the shadows trying to seduce me into old patterns of behavior of accepting lust when what I really want is a genuine connection. It’s easy to beat yourself up for even having these thoughts. I know I struggle with it. But I have learned to appreciate that I can catch myself thinking those thoughts, and turn it into self empowerment.
Understanding what is meant for you also means understanding your self-destructive patterns of behavior. Only when I was brave enough to see these destructive tendencies was I able to begin replacing them with healthy behaviors and responses.
For example, I met this guy over the summer. Let’s call him Kyle. Our time together was short lived, but this person was able to teach me so much about myself in a brief period. Kyle and I met via a dating app (not surprising huh) and upon our first encounter I was instantly attracted to him. He was tall, not dark, but definitely handsome. Here’s what my experience with Kyle taught me about myself: I ignore red flags just so I can deter feeling lonely.
I wasn’t aware of this at the very moment. It took me a minute to come back to reality and realize that I was ignoring my own intuition about the red flags. Something didn’t feel right. And when something doesn’t feel right, chances are you are so lost in the sauce that destructive patterns of behavior are clouding your judgment.
I was lost in the sauce. Not one, not two, not three but five red flags I blatantly ignored despite the fact that something didn’t feel right.
The 5 Red Flags
Red flag #1 is something we can all relate to. He started texting and calling me less than usual. Trust me, that is a red flag especially if you and that individual were talking on a regular/daily basis. I found myself overthinking and actually justifying his lack of effort with the good ol’ “Oh he’s probably just busy.” You say to yourself “yeah he’s busy he will get back to me,” only to go on Snapchat and realize he is blatantly ignoring you. People make time for what is important to them, period.
Red flag #2: I saw him using a dating app and my initial reaction was confusion, then of course a justification for him “We are not officially dating, he does not belong to me, he can be on a dating app, I am okay with that.” Truth is, I was not okay with that! Even though it ate at me, I remained silent and did not bring it up immediately. After evaluating my feelings about whether or not I had the right to feel this way, I mustered up the courage to talk to him about it. His gave me a lame ass excuse that I naively believed.
Looking back, I can’t believe I actually questioned whether or not I had the right to feel. I had a right, and so do you. The right person respects your feelings and can meet you with clear, honest communication.
Red flag #3: I deadass asked this man to take me on a date and his response was “I will let you know.” If you could see my sour facial expression as I am writing this! First of all, someone who is with it would have responded with “When is your next day off we will do something then.” Actually no. Scratch that. I wouldn’t have to ask someone who was actually with it. He would’ve just done it from the get go. Period.
Red flag #4: He stood me up. You’re probably thinking “Sis, he stood you up after you told him to take you on a date, sheesh.” Yes he did and I am not even upset about it.. Ok, well I am a little bit. I am more upset about how I once again defied my intuition.
You see, the day of our date I woke up with a gut feeling that it would fall through. I remember thinking to myself “Jessica dont wait on anybody to take you out, take yourself out, leave without him and do your own thing.” I gave him the benefit of the doubt and I waited. And waited. Then waited some more.
I was so disappointed in myself. Disappointed that I did not listen to the intense feeling my body was giving me to just go. I chose him over myself. It is at this very moment that I started to observe the destructive patterns of behavior that I was so desperately trying to change. I had to take a step back and reflect on this situationship I was in and how it was blinding me from the reality that this dude made me feel like shit.
Red flag #5: He used substances regularly. He posts himself drinking daily, he is open about popping pills every so often, probably more than he led on. He text me while he was drugs. This is such toxic behavior and a clear indicator that this guy is suffering internally. If he can’t cope with his own feelings without numbing it, then how is he supposed to cope with mine?
What I Learned
I took this time to self reflect. I thoughtfully analyzed all the red flags I tried to ignore because I was too occupied lusting over him. Red flag number 1 made me realize that he was most definitely ignoring me which made me come to the conclusion that communication is a two way street and all I could do is reciprocate the same amount of effort he was giving me.
Red flag number 2 was difficult for me to dissect because I was torn between feeling like I could or could not express myself based off of the fact that we did not belong to each other. This made me understand that you don’t have to belong to someone to vocalize how you feel. Setting boundaries means doing just that vocalizing what you will and will not allow from a potential partner, friendship, acquaintance, parent, etc.
Red flag number 3: what in the actual fuck was I thinking?! I had to actually ask a man to take me on a date, wow. Nobody should have to ask someone to spend time with them, and if you do, homie is just not into you. I knew I deserved someone who wanted to spend time with me without me having to ask. Period.
Red flag number 4 was eye opening because it showed me that I still had a lot of learning to do. How could I possibly choose someone I barely knew over myself?
Red flag number 5 was a no brainer. I know better than to try and fix someone. Other people’s issues are not my problem to fix.
This experience with Kyle was important to me because it forced me to think about my old patterns and how easy it was to ignore myself when lusting over someone. Don’t get me wrong, I had a difficult time differentiating whether or not I actually liked this man or was simply blinded by the lust I felt for him. I told myself I had a genuine connection to him, it was a vibe. I was experiencing emotions that I had not felt in a while. I was wrapped up in a blissful love spell and for a brief moment, I was not being true to myself.
I knew I had to detach from Kyle because I was not ready and in reality, neither was he. Old Jess would have berated herself and blamed herself for a failed attempt at a relationship. She would’ve felt unworthy. The ascending me is accepting what is truly meant for me and graciously letting go of what is not. I took this moment to reflect not on what I lost, but what I gained. I am growing, I am learning, I am unlearning, I am healing, I am receiving, I am reflecting, I am deflecting, I am choosing me. Always.
The universe expanded, the stars aligned. Lady luna remained a balance of dark and light. I had a vision of him shooting for the stars, but now I see it’s me who floats along the milky way.
Imagine building a house without a solid foundation. It doesn’t matter how beautiful a structure you’ve built, how high the walls, or what stone counters or floors you’ve installed, it’s basically a house of cards that can be blown apart with even the slightest upset. The root chakra is the first chakra because it represents your foundation. Balancing the root chakra provides stability and secure survival patterns. It provides a safe environment for all other chakras to open.
Located at the base of the spine, the root chakra, or Muladhara in Sanskrit, is responsible for feeling grounded and safe. The name Muladhara translates to “root support.” Only when we feel grounded are we able to feel safe in any situation. Without a root, plants would have no means of support. This is the primary difference between someone who is calm and collected even when they have very little versus someone who has it all, yet constantly struggles for more. The element of the root chakra is Earth, symbolizing the solid ground in which we securely plant our being.
Security in the 3D world is formed during infancy. In psychology this is called attachment theory. A child who is securely attached to his or her parents feels safe. The parent has met the child’s needs. For example, if baby cries, the parent will do his or her best to quell the baby’s nerves. The parents have the baby on a routine for feeding, sleeping, etc. The baby is well taken care of. The baby learns that he or she can trust that its needs will be met and therefore the baby feels safe.
Babies who have parents who are fickle or neglectful develop insecure attachments. They learn that their needs will not get met all of the time, or in extreme cases, not at all, and consequently the babies learn that the world is not a safe place. From birth, their root chakras form an imbalance that can affect the relationship with themselves and others for the rest of their lives.
Root Chakra Imbalances
This shows up in myriad forms. The one most familiar is anxiety. I’m not speaking of the normal doses of anxiety that you get when there’s a big project due, or you’re getting evaluated for a job or a promotion. Chronic anxiety flares up when we don’t feel safe. These feelings make it hard to deal with reality. You don’t believe you can accomplish a task no matter how small or big. You are consumed with worry to the point you don’t even start. Concentration and focus become nearly impossible. This is a clear indication that the root chakra is imbalanced.
Another tell-tale sign that the root chakra needs balancing is insecurity. These behaviors show up as extreme shyness, inability to say no, fear-based thinking, and carry a scarcity mindset. In other words, nothing is ever enough.
Greed also arises with a root chakra imbalance. When materialism becomes the most important facet to a person’s life, it is a clear indication the root chakra needs work. Think of Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.
Anger and irritation are additional behaviors of a root chakra imbalance. We become annoyed that we don’t feel an inner sense of security and lash out at others unintentionally. The lack of control we feel over our own lives triggers insecurities.
Common Physical Manifestations
- Lower back pain
- Low energy
- Leg pain
- Feet issues
- Colon problems
- Eating disorders
Balanced Root Chakra
When the root chakra is balanced we feel confident. We are able to take responsibility for ourselves and feel secure that we are in control of our destiny. Feelings of calm blanket our lives regardless of the circumstances. We feel at peace with what we have, yet do not let fear get in the way of our goals. A balanced root chakra is how children are able to leave home and create new adult lives, how people go back to school, begin new hobbies, start businesses, and travel the world.
How to Balance
- Get back into nature. Hike, camp, lay in the grass— anything to reconnect with the earth
- Practice yoga. This can be done for free with a YouTube video or join a class.
- Wear red. Red is a symbol of strength and power. It is our life force.
- Eat more red fruits and vegetables.
- Practice sound healing. The root chakra is associated with the key of C. You can sing, play an instrument, use your own song bowl, or have a sound healing done professionally.
- Practice meditation with healing crystals. Guided meditations can be found for free on YouTube, or on apps like Calm, Headspace, and others.
Healing Crystals for the Root Chakra:
It’s the weekend. You’re home alone. People are all over social media posting their adventures while you sit home with a silent phone. It’s like you’re the only one not doing a damn thing. Sound familiar?
There are two things you can do in this situation: feel sorry for yourself, or take care of yourself. Contrary to popular belief, scrolling through social media for hours on end is not a hobby, it’s a waste of time. It is great entertainment for a reasonable period of time, but if you find yourself staring and scrolling more than looking into another person’s eyes or being productive you’re treading on thin ice.
Social media does not replace human interaction. That’s why it’s so unfulfilling. In fact, it’s widely known to cause anxiety and depression because people don’t typically post boring nights, or nights they come out of their skin, or sit alone crying. And if they do, they are judged harshly. We all know it. No one wants to see that shit. So we post happiness and fun. We post inspiring quotes and funny videos. We post our triumphs, not our tribulations. Then the people who are in a slump view all the happiness they are not currently experiencing, a term called FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), and internalize this as not being good enough.
The truth is, everyone goes through periods of loneliness. It’s necessary in order to grow. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. It’s supposed to be. But the more you try to numb that discomfort with distractions, the more frequent these periods of discomfort become. Distractions come in many forms. Here are a few:
- Endless scrolling
- Binge watching an unhealthy amount of TV/ video games
- Compulsive shopping
- Drug abuse
- Smoking copious amount of weed
- Texting or calling anyone and everyone just to feel like you’re not alone
- Eating your feelings
- Getting involved in other people’s problems
- Compulsive online dating
Another method of distraction is maintaining friendships that don’t feel right just for the sake of not being alone. These are one-sided relationships where the give and take is so unbalanced you leave the interaction feeling uneasy and more doubtful than if you had just stayed home alone in the first place. Or you leave annoyed, angry, and upset.
One thing I have learned is that if you allow people to take their issues out on you, they will. Excuses about unhealthy family dynamics are only viable during childhood. There comes a point when you are responsible for your healing, for setting boundaries with friends and family, and taking control of your life. You can’t change someone. What you can change is the amount of time you spend with that person.
Getting involved in other people’s problems is another common distraction. When we focus on what someone else is doing, or not doing, it shifts the focus off of what we’re capable of controlling. The person might be in a situation that seems awful to us, but each person has their own bullshit tolerance level. What is intolerable to you, is tolerant to them, at least at the moment. Everyone has different life experiences and paths they must follow in order to grow. And if they want to complain every now and then, that’s ok. We all do it. But going around in circles and constantly complaining day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, without any solutions is toxic behavior.
In the popular psychology book Games People Play, author Eric Bernie names this social transaction Why Don’t You—Yes But. It’s a self- victimizing strategy where “the purpose of the game is not to get suggestions, but to reject them.” We’ve all been on one side of this game at one time or another. A person aires their grievances while another wracks their brain thinking of solutions only to be met with an excuse for each suggestion. When the person offering solutions gets tired and can’t think of anything else, the complainer feels justified in his or her victimization and thus their “whoa is me” demeanor is reinforced. To the people offering suggestions, the WDYYB game is emotionally draining and unpleasant to be around.
Sometimes people vent and don’t want a solution; they just want to be heard. This is why offering unsolicited advice is frowned upon. When you do, you could be unintentionally playing into a victimizing game or participating in codependent behavior. To obsess over other people’s problems is to avoid dealing with your own. Be mindful of how much energy you’re putting out for issues that aren’t your problem.
The goal is to stop the distractions altogether. This is super hard with entertainment right at our fingertips. The minute we feel uncomfortable with our own thoughts we reach for our phones to give us a distraction, any distraction, to take our mind off of the fact we can’t be left alone with ourselves. Stopping distractions in its tracks takes a great deal of awareness and mindfulness. And the only place to start is at the beginning.
Next time you’re alone and uncomfortable, keep track of how long you can sit without searching for a distraction. Look at the time. How many minutes went by? When we practice awareness it helps train the brain to recognize self defeating behaviors. This time alone shouldn’t be lonely, but at first it will feel that way. Once you’re able to accept there’s a distraction issue, you’ll be able to turn loneliness into empowering moments of self fulfillment.
You don’t have to be bored and lonely when you’re alone. Actually, looking to others to entertain you is pretty unhealthy. No one is here for your amusement and you’re not here for theirs. Think of ways you can entertain yourself without distractions.
What are some things you like to do or have always wanted to do? There is nothing stopping you from doing those things yourself, or joining a group that shares similar interests. You may be thinking, “But you just said to be alone.” And you’re right, I did. Alone doesn’t mean you can’t be in groups. Some people are extroverted and love to be around people. What’s important is that you’re around the right people.
Others are introverted and enjoy being alone. For instance, I am an introvert. When I’m alone, I like to go on hikes. I play the guitar. I listen to foreign language lessons. I read books; I write. I meditate; I listen to music. I read tarot. I’ll even take myself out to eat or to the movies.
Being alone means you are taking care of you in a healthy way without participating in unhealthy distractions. Being alone means you are engaging in activities that make you happy.
Alone time is so beneficial for self exploration. It doesn’t have to be isolating and lonely. But it certainly can go there real quick when we engage in distracting behaviors instead of sitting with the feeling in order to change the course to a healthier route. We can’t find ourselves in other people. That’s just not how it works.
So the next time you feel yourself cringing at the thought of being alone, I challenge you to sit with uncomfortableness. What can you find out about yourself? And how can you change the narrative to create a more fulfilling you?