Often when we are hurting, we find ourselves reaching past the healing we need toward means of comfort and distraction. It’s easier to distract from pain than feel it, and that distraction can move swiftly toward indulgence that becomes something more. Walking a path of distracting instead of feeling and indulging instead of healing, is a treacherous journey that often leaves you feeling worse after every redirection.
So where do you go from here? When your impulse is to distract or indulge, how do you make choices that look or feel better for your wellbeing? Is self-care the way forward or self-nurturance? Will it require more pain for you to make a different choice?
What does it mean to nurture yourself?
To nurture yourself does not mean to make yourself comfortable. In fact, it often means the opposite. Nurturing is a way of caring for ourselves in the challenging moments as much as the ones that come easy. We nurture ourselves in the moments we are afraid and push through; we nurture ourselves when we pursue something that we aren’t sure we will succeed at. We nurture ourselves especially beautifully when we allow ourselves to sit in emotions that are messy or situations that are uncertain.
Nurturing is the act of giving the whole self holistic care. Much like parenting is to a child, nurturing yourself is the persistent and compassionate belief in your ability to overcome.
Self-care vs Self-nurture
The much-lauded practice of self-care is everywhere in one form or another. That bath? Self-care. A pedicure? Definitely self-care. Yes, read that book, watch that show, indulge in that chocolate- it’s self-care, after all. But self-care is so much more than we are often shown. It is not all easy, and it’s certainly not the indulgent picture painted so often in media. Self-care can be difficult, rigorous work. The acts of care that help us move forward and progress in the world—like rising to a challenge—is self-care just as much as taking a shower often enough to feel clean and productive.
Self-care is the verb to the self-nurture’s noun. Care is what we do, and nurturing is how we frame our thoughts about it. We nurture our thoughts, our needs and our worth. We care for them too, but first, we must nurture them into the certainty that they are valid and deserve to take up space. Though we need self-care to self-nurture, we must learn to nurture before we can offer ourselves true care.
Are you prone to self-indulgence?
Ah, indulgence. To sink into the wanting instead of the needing, and allow yourself to truly know decadence. It’s something special to be able to appreciate the finer things in your world- from small brief delicacies to extravagant ones.
When indulgence becomes a form of coping instead of confronting, it becomes a substitute for nurture and care. Emotional pain may be difficult or confusing to feel. Often, it’s not clear what we’re meant to do with those feelings, and as society sweeps the messy things under the rug, we may want to as well. Indulgence can be something benign like an extra show, an extra scoop, or an extra hour- or it can seep into substances or habits that can become dangerous. Indulgence may become addiction if it’s not curtailed when it moves past an occasional treat into a daily habit.
Re-writing your healing
Stepping into the uncomfortable spaces to shape the way you nurture yourself can be difficult, but you are more than capable. Spend some time with yourself, considering the ways you approach your inner child. Give yourself the space to think about what would feel best in a variety of situations or emotional experiences.
What would feel best when you’re afraid? When you’re angry? How can you celebrate your wins? Where do you look for clarity when you’re confused?
Focus on these feelings and the authentic places you react and then apply them. Listen to your intuition for what you need, and move toward the nurturing habits that will allow you to give yourself those things.
Ways to shape your nurturing
The hows of nurturing yourself are always going to be highly specific. Just like your fingerprint and your self-care, it’s entirely unique to you. Shaping the nurturance you offer yourself is a delicate dance of identifying the unconscious needs that drive your emotions and sitting with them long enough to hear what they’re really saying.
You can shape your nurturing through:
- Inner-child care
- Moving your body
- Practice radical honesty
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it never could be. You are so beautifully unique that the chances for nurturing yourself will bend and extend as often as you do. No matter where you are on your healing or recovery journey, it is never too late to learn to nurture yourself, and we’re always here to help.