Over the past 2 years I feel like I have gone through another metamorphosis. When my mom passed, my favorite unrecognized self-soothing capability left earth. I would call mom daily to verbally process and metaphorically have my hair played with to soothe my soul and the aches from the day. When she passed, my grief was thick, and I felt adrift and alone. There was no one to soothe me the way she had. To all the wonderful souls who have helped me verbally process and self-soothe during that period by listening to me, my sincere thanks while I figured it out.
I realized in October, during my sabbatical, that I kept looking outside of myself for soothing. I wanted what my college roommate and I called the “poor baby special” which meant someone would listen, make you tea, stroke your hair and say poor baby. My mom was the best at that. Now what? I had to learn to develop a grown-up way to soothe.
In October, I spent a ton of time getting to know myself in a deeper way, what would soothe me, what felt nourishing and what helped me heal. Yes, radical self-care is one aspect – like Epsom salt baths, palo santo wood, essential oils, massages, energy work, lymphatic massage, yoga, qi gong, meditation, journaling and the list goes on. While all of these helped me care for myself and contributed to soothing, what I found I most needed was to meet my more internal needs for love and psychological soothing.
Our needs change day-to-day so what works one week may feel like a chore the next. All self-care can soothe but only if it doesn’t feel like one more thing to do. Now I ask myself daily, what do I need today in the form of the question what do I want to do. I have found baking myself a treat and enjoying it warm is soothing. Taking a walk alone - soothing. Discovering new art forms that allow me to just be – soothing. However, if they feel like I have to, then the soothing part for me is diminished.
My most consistent self-soothing method that I crave is time alone. Time to just be without the pressure “to do” anything. This space lets me heal and soothe. It really helps me unwind that feeling of being overwhelmed and the negative emotions overwhelm stirs up. I might decide a nap is in order or pulling oracle cards or journaling until I run out of words is best. Often, I stare out the window until the overwhelm leaves. And yes, sometimes I call my spirit mom or a friend to verbally process and soothe because that’s how I am wired. However, my intention is no longer desiring a “poor baby,” it is more “I’m working something out and I need to mastermind it to get it sorted.” Then I ask, do you have time/energy for that?
I no longer feel adrift as I ground and fill myself daily, and I have learned I am the only one who can truly meet my needs. There is freedom in this because I no longer look to others to fill my needs and feel disappointed if/when they can’t. No one can give us lasting happiness or peace; it is an inside job.
Usually, I find some quality alone time to think of what I want/need is a great place to start. No TV, no music, no one else but me. Sit with yourself and see what you want to do. Today, I took a quick nap to reset my tired brain. It was heavenly and restored my creative energy. Yesterday, I skipped doing laundry and had a cup of coffee with a friend. (I also skipped the gym and did some gentle stretching because I wanted to.) What soothes you? Perhaps now is the perfect time to learn to tap into soothing methods and employ them daily. Where do you look to others to fill your needs that you could meet yourself?