It's not so obvious to us in the day-to-day, but we spend pretty much every single moment of our lives trying to make ourselves feel better. As humans living in the world today, we experience a constant onslaught of stimulation, stress and suffering. Of course, being alive is great and a large majority of us on the planet as quite blessed to not be fearing for our lives or living in a state of survival mode. But, in life, no matter how good it seems, we're all still existing in a space of flux. Which means, ultimately, that being alive is a constant state of trying to re-calibrate, trying to stay in balance. And so, what is this process of rebalancing? How do we do it? And how come we don't seem to notice it?
It's called self-soothing. Its your way (and there may be many!) of keeping yourself calm. It's your way of re-focusing yourself. It's your way of getting through the world each and everyday without totally shutting down, mentally or physically. Each of us has our own method, or methods, of self-soothing. When we're in traffic or we're running really late for a meeting, some of us breathe. Some of us talk to ourselves. Some of us scream at the driver in front of us. When we've just gone through a bad break-up, some of us eat a lot of ice cream. Some of us go out and party hard. Some of us lock ourselves inside for weeks. And when we've just had an uneventful, but long and tiring day at the office, some of us indulge in alcohol when we get home. Some of us watch television. Some of us exercise. No matter the technique, each of those options is that person's attempt to soothe, to let go, to calm down. To deal with the feelings and emotions inside. Some of us, of course, are better at it then others.
Our ability to self soothe is a fundamental developmental component of being human. And, interestingly, it is learned, not innate. The self soothing techniques that we use for ourselves today, we learned somewhere. Most of us, from our parents. That's why some of us choose to be angry, or drink, or become addicted. Somewhere we learned along the way that those are resources for comfort; those are things that can make you feel better when you're not feeling so great. It is only with our awareness and understanding of how to take care ourselves that we can begin to form better self-soothing habits and find alternate techniques for feeling good.
As a yoga teacher, doula and ayurvedic practitioner, my days are filled with an unlimited variety of problems, people and tasks. Ultimately, however, my work always, always boils down to the same thing: my job is to help people learn how to make themselves feel better. My job is to teach self-soothing and self-care. Really, that is it! And this is the message that I pass along in all my workshops, classes and to my clients. Their goal must be just to focus on feeling better, nothing more, nothing less. In the case of my yoga students, I work with them and teach them how to use their practice to feel good. In the case of my ayurvedic clients, I offer services and treatments that offer only an intention of feeling better. And with my doula clients, the goal is always to be as comfortable as possible for as long as possible. And what this does is serve to get people thinking about the right things and re-learning, as adults, what was really never taught to them.
Taken further, this concept becomes extremely important in childbirth and child-rearing. First, you need to take good care of yourself so that you can pass those things along to your child! While you're trying to self-soothe, they are learning. And their ability to self-soothe will be directly related to who they become as a person and how they interact in the world. Not to mention self-soothing can help to make your labor and delivery easier on you and your baby! And for those of you not having children at the moment, don't forget that our youth is learning from you too! The calmer, more stable you are in the world, the calmer and more stable the world can become!
Looking to change the world or make a big time contribution? Learn good habits of self-soothing!