Life with The Eden Alternative:
Caring for Ourselves Heals Others
Self- care is more than just medical appointments or pedicures. It is as much about feeling self- expressed as it is about feeling good. When you think about it, self- care can be a window to one’s soul. Ask someone what they like to do for themselves—that’s just for them—and you’ll learn a lot about who that person really is. Take me, for example. When I’m wearing my professional hat, I wield my writing, project management, and instructional design skills, but when I need to unwind and get in touch with me again, I dance like nobody’s watching (and sometimes, like a lot of people are watching, honestly). When I’m dancing, I feel most fully myself… most whole, most authentic. Self- care indeed.
Identity and Meaning are listed among the seven Eden Alternative Domains of Well-Being ™ . When our true selves are acknowledged, we feel seen. Our place in the world is affirmed. We count. Self- care, then, is how we give ourselves a nod and say, “I see you. You matter.” Typically, this sense of ourselves is further defined by those things we find meaningful.
Try this: Make a list of your top ten simple pleasures. These are those things that just make your day, the little rituals that renew, refresh, and inspire you. Drawing a blank? Well, then it’s time to resuscitate your self- care mojo. Start small with 1 or 2 ideas and then make a commitment to weave them into your week. Share them with someone who will lovingly hold you accountable for making them a part of daily life. Offer to do the same for them in return.
When we teach others about the power of care partnership at The Eden Alternative ® , we share that genuine care is not possible without first knowing someone deeply… what do they love, who have they been, who are they now, what do they need? While we may become adept at asking such questions about another, how are we at seeking to understand the same about ourselves? Life moves at a quick clip. Busy lives can leave us feeling out of touch with who we are and what our souls are truly craving. Enter self- care, which offers us the opportunity to come home to ourselves again.
Our job, then, is to be stellar care partners to ourselves first and foremost. Only then can we be completely present for another human being. Recall the request of the flight attendant before take- off: first, place the oxygen mask on yourself, and then offer it to another. By connecting with the self, breathing life into our own being first, we are better prepared to make a difference in the lives of others. The quality of the relationships we build with other people becomes stronger, healthier, and more attuned. Connectedness, like Identity and Meaning, is considered another vital aspect of well-being. Add Security, Autonomy, Growth, and Joy and you have all seven Domains of Well-Being, all of which are vital products of self-care. Nurturing ourselves teaches us how to ask others for what we need with confidence and courage. And as we grow and change, so, too, do the things that feed and soothe us. By recognizing the ebb and flow of our own interests and needs, we are also poised to respond more freely to the same in others.
A self- caring world is a world wired for healing… like turning ripples into waves. Imagine the possibilities. ■