What does communicating with the self mean?
Updated: Jan 13
A big part of self-care is bringing awareness to your mind and body - understanding what it wants and what it needs.
This month's BlissBox is centred on bringing you into your body and getting to know your body a little more so you are able to communicate with it and be able to give yourself what you want and need - empowering you with the skills and tools to create your very own tailored self-care routine.
But what does communicating with the self actually mean? How do we communicate with the self and why should we do it?
What is communication with the self?
Communication with the self isn't something that is widely researched. There seems to be lots of information, research and books readily available around the art of communicating with others - as part of being in sales for 12 years, I have been on numerous training courses explaining this very topic. With set guidelines based on theories, psychology and various experiments, it seems, we pretty much know how to communicate with others or at least have easy access to materials that can help us...But what about communicating with ourselves?
This is a topic which hasn't really been explored in any great depth - at least not yet. In the past, if it was ever conceived, it was viewed as this mysterious and spiritual (almost laughable) skill that the ordinary person wouldn't bother themselves with. But as awareness of mental health, self-care and well-being is spreading and people are starting to realise the importance of taking care of themselves, this is starting to change.
So here it is, in plain and simple terms:
Communicating with the self is the awareness of, the listening to and then acting upon the wants and needs of yourself physically, emotionally and mentally to ensure that all three of these elements operate in a healthy and balanced state together.
What are these elements?
Lets look at what each of these elements are and what they consist of...
The physical self is just as it sounds - your skin and everything underneath it! So, your head, neck, your shoulders, arms, hands, fingers, chest, back, abdominal area, pelvic area, legs, feet and toes. But also your bones, organs, blood, veins and facia.
Along with your actual body, there your five physical senses - sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Your energy levels, how you feel physically, your heart rate and your breathing. Your need to eat and drink - when you feel hungry and thirsty and what you crave as a result...Also your need to pop to the loo.
The emotional side of yourself is how you feel. This is all based on your experiences, how you interpret situations, how you react and respond to circumstances, people and energies.
Our mental self is made up of our thoughts, attitudes, judgements and beliefs. How we process information, how we learn and understand things on an intellectual level. It is also how we perceive the world around us and what worth and value we think we have within it.
What does healthy and balanced look like?
What is the ideal?
You know when your physical self is feeling balanced because you feel energetic, open, flexible and free of pain.
We all know when we feel good, when we feel balanced – we are empathetic, open, honest, non-judgemental towards others and we give more freely. All emotions are normal and healthy as long as they are processed in a balanced way.
A healthy, balanced mind is a mind which is clear, calm and able to be used as a tool easily. The ability to problem solve and have helpful thoughts come to us easily. To be able to process and resolve emotional and physical issues in a gentle and supportive way.
What does unhealthy and unbalanced look like?
What happens when we tip that balance?
Usually, if there is something physically wrong, your body will generally tell you. And if you ignore it, you will quickly see a decline in your physical health which becomes more and more apparent.
This can be in the form of pain, break down of bodily functions, exhaustion, premature ageing within the body, fluctuation of weight, illness and various other defects and disruptions.
You can go the other way where you are too obsessed about your weight, your strength or beauty which also has negative impacts on your physical self.
Those who are under emotional will find it difficult to feel emotions, they will feel a lack of trust, have little intuition and little ability to connect to and read other people.
Those who are overly emotional will be quick to change their emotions. They can be passive and then aggressive easily, they will likely be obsessive, irritated, overly anxious and their emotions can both overwhelm them and others around them.
Very rarely will we find that our mind is calm, clear and balanced. We can overthink, we can have low self-esteem, we can lack purpose, we can suffer from mental lethargy, confusion and we can easily lose mental concentration. Or, we can be the opposite - ego-eccentric and narcissistic.
How can we communicate with the self?
How can we communicate with the self to ensure we keep all of these elements healthy and balanced...
Your physical self is the easiest to communicate with and is the best place to start.
To make sure your physical self is healthy and balanced, you need to communicate better with this side of yourself. This can be done by bringing your awareness to your physical self and the different parts of it.
Checking in with yourself is a good technique to use. Begin by mentally scanning down the length of your body - just becoming aware of each area in turn, starting at your head, down through the neck and shoulders. Your arms and your individual fingers. Through your back, your chest, your stomach and your pelvic area. Then down your legs until you reach the end of each individual toe.
Ask yourself - what does this area feel like today? Is it heavy or light? Comfortable or uncomfortable? Neutral? Is there any pain? Can I make this area feel any better? Would a massage help, stretches or some form of exercise? What about a rest? What does this part need? And then most importantly, following through.
For example, if your feet are tired, give them the rest they need. Give them a massage or a little soak in a foot spa. We use our feet all the time, they literally support us, so take the time to be kind to them so they continue to do so. The same goes for other areas of your physical body - we rely on our physical bodies to live, we need them to be working at their optimum level to keep us functioning as we want to.
Then you can concentrate on your energy levels and ask yourself what you are capable of doing today and then do no more. Over exerting the body leads to burnout which is no use to you or anyone else for that matter!
Focus on how your body feels in general, what is around you, using your senses one by one. What is your heart and your breath doing? When I have caffeine, my heart and breathing rate goes up dramatically - what does yours do?
Are you hungry? Thirsty? What do you fancy right now? What does your body crave right now? What do you like and what don’t you like?
Simply asking these questions and bringing awareness to your physical body and other physical senses that effect your body, will help you see this side of yourself, understand it and be able to give it exactly what it needs and what it wants.
Your body is an extension of you so it is important to communicate with it and treat it right.
Tools I find useful:
Repetitive, slow movements, with purpose
Stimulating your senses (see, hear, smell, taste and feel things that you feel are pleasant)
When it comes to emotions, the best way to keep these healthy and balanced is to accept them, feel them, release them and move on.
When you know you are feeling an emotion (positive or negative), understand what you feel and why you feel that way. Accept the way you feel – no matter whether you want to feel that way or not.
Once you have accepted the emotion, you can then feel it. And just sit with it and really feel it – nothing more, no thinking about it, no justifying it, just simply feeling it. If you need to release the emotion then do so – whether it be by crying, shouting, screaming, laughing or dancing (as long as it is safe for yourself and others of course) whatever you need to do to express how you feel. Depending on the emotion, it can be quite unpleasant, but soon, with a little time, you feel the intensity of the emotion lessen as you move on.
A really great tool to go through this process with is an emotions journal. You can explore what you feel, why you feel that way, understand your emotions, connect with them, accept them, feel them, express them and then move on.
By having this emotional intelligence, you will be able to understand yourself and your emotions better. You will be able to give yourself a way to process and release your emotions in a healthy and balanced way. You will also have awareness of how you feel and know what you are capable of doing and giving to others in an emotional capacity, so in turn, you can meet your own emotional needs.
Tools I find useful:
Emotions Journal, Meditation and the book: Emotional Intelligence by Gill Hasson to help you recognise, face and accept your emotions
Physical exercise, Crafting, Reading, Watching/doing something light hearted/fun, Anything that allows you to be focusing in the present moment, Yoga to help you focus on something else and move on.
"Be careful how you talk to yourself because you are listening"
The only way to get a good picture of what is going on inside your mind is to, well…Go inside.
Going inside your head can be daunting, it isn't somewhere where we normally like to linger. Usually, we would rather to anything else other than to be left to our own devices, with our own thoughts - but why?
One reason can be, our inner chatter - what we are thinking. The unforgiving voice in our head which gives us a hard time, says horrible things about us and our capabilities. Haunts us with things we did wrong 10 years ago and reminds us how worthless we are. All our worst nightmares are present in this part of the self - the fears, the anxieties, the problems and the worries, real or not. And the over thinking. It truly the scariest part of the self!
In contrast to the physical self, this area of the self is probably the hardest to communicate with. The mind can be wild and can feel like it is untameable sometimes. But, with a little bravery and a little work I promise you, your mind can be a more welcoming and pleasant place to be.
The place to start is - being brave. Plucking up the courage and making that journey inside your mind and just listen. You don't need to fight it or resist what is going on - just simply sit, for short sessions of a few seconds to a few minutes (whatever you feel comfortable with) and listen and notice what is going on. What are you thinking? What is your inner voice saying? Become aware of your mental state.
When you are ready (could take weeks or months so be kind!), you can start to notice how many times a day you have one particular thought or how many times a day your inner voice tells you something bad about yourself. Again, just notice, no need to resist. This will give you a good idea and understanding of what is going on inside your head. Yes it is scary and even horrifying in some cases but it will allow you to see what is happening.
Once you start to see what is going on, you can then begin the work - like your emotional self, just noticing, accepting and moving on is all that is required...You don't need to do anything else. When you notice something coming up - an unpleasant thought or your inner chatter is up to it's usual tricks - just notice it, accept it and carry on with whatever else you were doing. Your mind will try and strong arm you into thinking about it again and again, but persevere and keep repeating this process and soon you'll forget all about it.
I named my inner chatter Debbie - after someone I didn't like at the time - and whenever she spoke, I would laugh and say "whatever Debbie!" - Things didn't seem so frightening after that. Thoughts are just that - thoughts. You do have ultimate control over these thoughts. If you don't want to think about something, then don't. You do have that choice.
The general misconception is to reason with the mind, to think about what you are thinking about and to try and change it but that's just more thinking, more energy that you are using. Just notice - accept - move on.
Sooner or later, you will have a little free space in your mind where can begin to grow your ability to control and train your mind so you can begin to plant little seeds of positivity. You can look into a mirror and complement yourself, do something wrong and actively show compassion for yourself and be able to know when to switch off the over thinking and focus on other, more important things. You can go so far as to changing the way you see things, how you perceive things and your entire belief system - you do have that power!
This is communication with your mental side. To be able to understand your mind, how it works, realising that it can be a scary place and that's OK and when to move on to more positive thoughts or pursuits.
"Your mind is a garden. Your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds". Ultimately, the choice is yours but I know which I would choose!
Tools I find useful:
Meditation, Affirmations/reminders to be positive and present, Therapy and the book: The Power of now by Eckhart Tolle to help accept your mental state.
Physical exercise, Crafting, Reading, Watching/doing something light hearted/fun and Yoga to help you move on.
Can I just communicate with just one element?
In the beginning, I would certainly look to concentrate on one element at a time. Focusing on all three can be rather overwhelming and draining. So yes, one element after another - physical, emotional and then mental is the order in which I did this process. But you can start anywhere you feel is best. The beauty of this process is you get to decide. This is your very own tailored self-care routine.
You will find, in time, that all three of these elements link together. Your emotions will have an impact on your mental and physical state, your physical state will have an impact on your emotions and your mind, and your mental state will effect your emotions and your physical self. So in order to keep one healthy and balanced, you will need to check in with all three.
Why should I communicate with myself?
Knowing and communicating with the self physically, emotionally and mentally will allow you to take better care of yourself, become healthier, more satisfied and ultimately happier in your every day life.
Learning to accept your wants and needs, accept yourself physically, emotionally and mentally will help you to accept yourself as a whole - to be more content and more comfortable within yourself.
Communication with the self is paramount to our health, well-being and happiness. By simply accepting the way you are, the way you feel and the way you think, you will be able to gain an insight into yourself that you never knew existed. To have the knowledge, understanding and ability to give all of your self what it needs and what it wants, including any changes that may need to be made, will help you to be more aware, intuitive, and compassionate and will ultimately lead to a healthier and better balanced life.
Wishing you love,
*Some of the tools that I have listed above are available in the BlissBox shop - such as the emotions journal and the communication cards (in this month's BlissBox) which have been specially created for these tasks. Or the books mentioned above are also available - head to www.yourblissbox.co.uk/shop for more information*