Dear Beautiful Souls,
What does it mean to practice good self-care? Many of us pursue a certain way of life with the intention of nourishing ourselves. We feed the mind by reading and taking classes. We care for our bodies by eating healthy foods and exercising. We learn to say no to unwanted commitments, and we make time to rest. But many of us still don’t feel satisfied, relaxed, or fulfilled.
That is because we have not been listening to our true needs. We may believe we’ve been taking care of ourselves, when in fact we have been neglecting ourselves. The outside world distracts us with all of its conflict and chaos; it beckons us with false opportunities for self-soothing. We forget that we are humans with a role to play here on earth. Our lives tip out of balance as we neglect the being-ness within us that craves something more from this life.
To be truly happy, we must recognize the desires of the self that lies within. Of course we should take care to meet our physical, mental, and emotional needs, and to tend our relationships. But to be truly fulfilled, we must also nourish ourselves spiritually. This is where so many of us let ourselves down. It is the missing piece.
Each one of us carries compelling dreams and desires. There is a part of us deep inside that is driven to seek certain states of being, such as freedom, truth, exploration, serenity, joy, and connection to the Divine. That is the aspect of the self that generates our innermost desires to gives us a reason to live.
Even if we sincerely intend to care for ourselves, a form of self-neglect can take hold when we do not pay attention to what’s bubbling up inside of us. Nothing will truly satisfy us unless we are tending to the needs of the soul. Losing your inner self is like dying with your eyes open.
When you listen to the soul’s desire to pursue its unique ways of being in the world, you can achieve something far beyond a healthy body and a calm mind. It is possible to enter a space of total bliss, expansion, and fulfillment. But all of that can collapse the moment you deny the self its desires. You may judge your dreams to be silly, intangible, or unattainable and come to see them as a source of shame. You may fear that if you follow them, you will rock the boat or disappoint the people who matter to you.
Most distressingly, you may fear that your dreams will upset your Creator, when in fact you have been placed on this earth for the purpose of fulfilling them. Each soul comes imprinted with its own ways of being in the world. Your unique states allow you to reach a level of flow and mastery in everything you do. They enable you to give your best to the world. They are the essential ingredients for a life of joy and purpose.
If your dreams seem overwhelming, don’t worry. It’s not your job to bring every one of these desires to fruition. Rather, your responsibility is to acknowledge them, listen to their messages, and let them inspire your spirit. The role of the Divine is to give you opportunities to express them to build a life of meaning and contentment. So give yourself space to become the dreamer, the container that will tenderly hold the beauty of your dreams. Feed them ideas. Nourish them with your willingness. Then take actions that will give them form.
It’s important to note that your deepest desires don’t point you toward a destination of some sort. Don’t be fooled by the mentality that if you achieve such-and-such, you will be happy. The deepest whispers of your inner self point you toward states of being in which you will thrive. There is no goal, exactly, but instead a life that is designed in a certain way to provide you with the opportunities to be in those states.
To hear these whispers of the soul, you must take the time to pay attention and figure things out for yourself. I assure you that you will emerge clearer and more balanced if you give yourself the gift of distraction-free time.
Sometimes our dreams require some interpretation before we find the states of being that lie beneath them. Ask yourself why you want what you want. Suppose you daydream about wandering in the mountains, when in reality you live in the city and you have to work hard to earn a living. Your inner self is pointing you toward a state that you need to acknowledge and fulfill. It might be adventure, exploration, peace, or freedom.
Then give yourself the opportunity to explore this state. You may not be able to see right away how to reach it. Perhaps it seems impractical to move to the mountains. But you can take small steps like spending time in the park or taking a weekend adventure to experience what being in freedom would feel like. Once you know the state your soul longs to be in, the means by which you achieve that is an open sea of possibilities.
Modern-day life has boxed us in a certain way of living that does not necessarily match who we really are. All of our technologies and inventions do not guarantee that we will thrive as humans. They may even destroy our humanity that in its essence is a balance between the impulse to create and the need to coexist peacefully with everything that surrounds us. So let’s not neglect the self that wants something grander and more harmonious.
Living in our intended states of being feeds our soul. No amount of food or water, no worldly possessions could provide us with such nourishment for ourselves. True happiness comes from the bottom of our hearts. To find it, we must pay attention and then let go of the doubts and judgments that limit us.
Action item: Take time to listen to your deepest desires. What states of being lie beneath them? Then notice opportunities – small or large – to explore these states. How does your life change? Share your experience in the comments below.
Originally published at www.eimanalzaabi.com on August 1, 2017.