Here at ABQ Mom, we care about your self-care! It’s so important as moms to make sure we are taking care of ourselves. Since it’s a brand new year, we want to get it started off right by focusing on you. Each Sunday in January we will tackle a different aspect of self-care. This week’s topic is soul care. Caring for the soul is a piece of the self-care puzzle. We hope this post inspires you in your journey.
You’ve heard about self-care, but what about soul care?
“We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.”
There’s a lot of talk in mom-world about self-care, and rightly so! We certainly should take care of our physical, emotional, and social health. But I believe you are not just a self. You are a soul.
We’ve heard of soul mates, the window to the soul, soul food, soul music, and selling your soul. But what exactly is our soul?
Writer Dallas Willard says, “What is running your life at any given moment is your soul. Not external circumstances, not your thoughts, not your intentions, not even your feelings, but your soul. The soul is that aspect of your whole being that correlates, integrates, and enlivens everything going on in the various dimensions of the self. The soul is the life center of human beings.”
If my soul is my life center, I had better take care of it. I’ve come to understand that if my soul is healthy and cared for, no external circumstance can dismantle my life. There’s a peace, a sense of restfulness, and an integration of your will (your intentions), your mind (your thoughts, feelings, values, and conscience), and your body that happens internally that is difficult to put into words.
Red Flags for the Soul
In my experience, I haven’t been taught (and I think this is true of most people) to recognize when my soul is in trouble. We often don’t notice what matters most because we can’t necessarily perceive the problem with our five senses. But it’s usually something we can sense in our gut if we just get still for a bit. Below are three ways our souls can dis-integrate (rather than integrate). A really important part of soul care is receptivity and self-evaluation. See if any of these hit home:
1. The Hardened Soul
Life is full of hurt and disappointment. And if we aren’t careful we can allow the hard things of life to make us cynical, bitter, and suspicious. When we are so wrapped up in our struggles and live as a victim rather than a healing human, our souls will grow hard. As someone who has been in this place, trust me. It’s no way to live. If we decide we won’t be vulnerable with others so we don’t get hurt, we also turn off the ability to love and create and connect in deep ways.
2. The Shallow Soul
Writer Richard Foster once said, “Superficiality is the curse of our age.” As a high school writing and literature teacher for the past 17 years, I have seen this firsthand. It has become increasingly difficult to help my students dive deep in their thinking. My soul becomes shallow when my thoughts never reach past myself or past today. A soul has depth when it doesn’t simply go through the motions, but rather deeply reflects on understanding others, the world around us, and the future.
3. The Cluttered Soul
I’m not talking about ridding our lives of the physical clutter á la Marie Kondo. I’m talking about the spiritual clutter. The busyness. Sometimes our busy soul gets attached to the wrong stuff. Wouldn’t it be horrible to mistake our clutter for life? If we’re so preoccupied with doing that we forget about the being, we aren’t truly living.
Steps Toward Soul Care
Did you see yourself in any of the above? Not gonna lie. I’ve been on this soul care journey for a long time, and I do! But I won’t be complacent. I’ll continue to grow in all of these areas. Below are some things that help me care for my soul.
Part of dealing with bitterness and cynicism is forgiveness. The lack of reconciliation in your own life has so many undesirable ripple effects. We can forgive others, even when (and maybe especially when) they don’t deserve forgiveness. This is a huge part of healing.
2. Becoming Over Achieving
Learning who I am, who I’ve been created to be, has been life changing. I am not the sum total of what I do. Do you know why you have worth? Because you are human. What you do, what you’ve accomplished, what a great mom you are don’t define you. Your humanity does.
Dallas Willard instructs that we must “ruthlessly eliminate hurry.” Easier said than done! However, we can be busy without being hurried. Hurry is an inner condition that happens when we squeeze the important things, the eternal things, out of our lives.
Brene Brown writes, “Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.” I couldn’t agree more. I’m going to say something pretty bold here, so if you’re easily offended, put your seat belt on. I do not think complete soul care can happen in isolation. This isn’t something you can strong arm into reality. Soul care (healing, vulnerability, depth) occurs with trusted mentors, reliable companions, and the foundation of millions of people over thousands of years who have walked this road before us. It’s downright arrogant to think we can have all the answers when most of the time we can’t see our own faults. If soul care is truly important, we must dedicate ourselves to finding a trusting community of people with whom we can be truly open.
It almost seems ridiculous and cursory to write a blog post on such an important and complicated topic. So hopefully, reading this is just one step in your soul care journey.
Originally published July 2019.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.