What is the Difference between Self-Care and Soul Care?
I started to distinguish the difference between self-care and soul care when I was working in social services in a government corporation. Myself and others were not finding the known strategies of eating well, sleeping enough, and exercising regularly effective in alleviating the kind of stress we were under.
Many of my co-workers became disillusioned about being able to help others and ran on adrenaline and medication boosts to get through the day. I just kept pushing to get everything done and make everyone happy, while neglecting my own needs.
Self-awareness taught me that I had the inner reserves to deal with difficult situations. I just needed to shift my focus from all the external stimuli and tap into those inner strengths. Soul led me to keep my inner light alive, motivating me to find purpose and passion for my work again.
Many people have issues with taking time for self-care as they are either too focused on others to find the time, or they fear that loved ones will see it as being “selfish”, and ‘all about me”. When in fact, if you are power full- that is full of Spirit, pure energy and in tune with your higher self, you give so much more to others. You give the best of you, and not the, “tired, cranky, let’s just get this done” version of you.
Trying to Survive or Willing to Thrive?
In the Seven Sacred Pauses, Marcrina Weiderkehr explains, “Our days are frenetic- filled with activity. Although some of this is nourishing and replenishing, much of it is draining and numbing. All of this takes a toll on the soul. “I don’t have time” has become a frequent part of our dialogue and we find ourselves multitasking just to get through the day with a sense of accomplishment.”
Do you resonate with that? Being too busy to engage in any kind of self-care or soul care and just trying to get through the day in one piece?
Let’s look at self-care from a higher perspective. Abraham Maslow, a psychologist was well known for his hierarchy of needs. Does anyone remember that pyramid? In the 50’s the original version was brought about that focused on physiological needs, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization. Then a decade or so later, cognitive needs, aesthetic needs, and transcendence needs were added.
Society tends to focus mostly on the esteem needs. The ego self that is concerned with achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance/control, prestige, and respect for self/others. This perspective creates a fear-based motivation that drives us from not wanting to appear deficient or incompetent. It directly feeds into the beliefs that, “I’m not good enough” and “I’m not worthy”.
So What’s the Difference?
Let me now point out some of the differences in taking care of our Self vs taking care of our Soul.
As I’ve been mentioning, self care focuses on exercise, eating well, and sleeping right, taking care of our basic hygiene. We are trying to control our body’s rhythms and functions.
When we are stuck, overwhelmed and exhausted, we keep going out of a need to please, and a need for approval (esteem, safety needs). Vulnerability scares us and we start to get strong again (survival of fittest).
When looking at self-care, there is a tendency to get back to the basics. Getting back to caring for those biological/physiological needs to have shelter, food and sleep. Although those needs are very important, it doesn’t really get us anywhere. In this case, as we start to go up, we get knocked back down if our Spirit isn’t intact. Thus, it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.
If we were to look at Soul Care, we are working to tune into our natural rhythms, and remember our core essence. The Soul is where the sacredness of life is revealed and accessing that remembrance, brings us peace, clarity and sense of purpose once again.
With Soul care the soul leads. We access intuition, innate wisdom to discern, instead of the voice of tradition, authority or the majority. We take responsibility for having our needs met, rather than expecting someone else to fulfill them. It gives us the courage to respond without defences and with authenticity and integrity.
Keeping your spirit intact is at the core of soul care, as many of the things that stress us out, also dispirit us and our energy can become dark and heavy, making it harder to cope with the increasing demands on our time and energy.
Deep Healing Transformation
Sometimes there is a deep healing taking place beneath the surface that can leave you feeling depleted. Perhaps you are even feeling the need to sleep more, or to get away. You may also feel lethargic, unable to focus or and inability to concentrate. At times you could be feeling like you can’t have certain people in your energy space and tend to overreact or become impatient when they are.
The beginning of transformation is often a spiritual crisis or awakening that brings us to our awareness of what or soul needs. You then start choosing ways that are life supportive for you. To keep on the spiritual path it’s important to focus on what nurtures, heals and guides you to fully engage in the highest expression of your self, your gifts, and your abilities.
Maslow described self-actualization as realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth, and peak experiences. The goal here is to be happy and fulfilled.
Instead of the voice of tradition, authority or the majority telling you what to do, you can access intuition and innate wisdom to discern what situations and decisions are right for you. By taking responsibility for having your needs met, rather than expecting someone else to fulfill them, you reclaim your power and sovereignty. It gives you the courage to respond without defences, and with authenticity and integrity.
An Act of Self-Love
Allowing spirituality into your life leads to an increased sense of self-fulfillment, contentment, and a deep sense of belonging. Here, we are motivated by growth needs, rather than deficiency needs. Spiritual wellness focuses on our growth needs leading to self-actualization. This is where you really get to thrive.
What are the costs of not tending to Soul/self care?
It’s okay to care, just don’t carry! Living an unfulfilling life can lead to regret and resentment as well as increased conflict and discordance in all types of relationships. Setting boundaries is an act of self-love.
How many of these would you currently check off?
- Physical ailments
- Mental and cognitive blockages
- Feeling of disconnect
- Feeling like life is meaningless
- Feelings of anxiety and depression
- Feeling like nothing makes sense anymore or becoming numb
- Feeling frazzled and overwhelmed
Have you been reacting to life instead of embodying it?
If you checked off one or more of the above symptoms, it would be even more useful now to start engaging in spiritual self-care. Using spiritual wellness strategies and maintaining conscious connection helps you build resilience and keeps your spirit intact. It is an act of Self-Love.
Here are some spiritual wellness strategies that may lead you to feel more fulfilled as more of your needs are met:
Notice what you are tuning into. Listening to your own feelings in evaluating experiences instead of the voice of tradition, authority or the majority. Which area of your life do you feel needs are not being met? In what areas of your life do you feel most fulfilled?
Venture into something new and edge out from your comfort zone a little. Expand beyond your limits.
Be authentic in all your communications and watch your relationships thrive with honesty and integrity. Some relationships will grow while others will dissolve. Tend to relationships where it’s safe to share life experiences. Align with those who encourage you to live your heart’s desires.
Do more of the things you love to do! Engage in those activities that bring about contentment and joy for you. Watch for what lights you up!
Create conscious connection. Align with your higher self/higher power through meditation and prayer, or by way of oracle cards or some other divination tool.
Connect with your creative source. Draw, colour, build, write, or paint as this will shift your consciousness and help you access different parts of your brain that will also more easily find you the solutions and answers you were looking for.
In a world of instant gratification and communication brought in by technology, there has been a growing sense of urgency and hypervigilence. Don’t get sucked in! Instead pause and breathe into the space between tasks and create space between a demand and a response.
Not sure what your soul needs? Try this!
Write down one experience that you can remember that brought you so much joy that it almost makes you cry now thinking about it. This is a clue to knowing what your soul wants and needs. This is what opens up your heart and soul.
Self-care actually causes you to do more and push yourself more. Soul-care encourages you to do less and allow you to naturally re-calibrate. You’ll find over 20 more tips for soul-care in my book, Embrace Your Power: A Healing Journal of Self-discovery.
One last tip! Practice self-love every day. Start with self-care first thing in the morning, before you do anything else, connect with your Higher Power/Self first. End your day with intention to rest your Soul.
Jennifer Regular is a Soul-Centred Empowerment Coach at Lighting the Path helping Multi-passionate Entrepreneurs find focus on their soul’s path and align with their vision to fulfill their mission. Get your free guide to living with passion and purpose here. She is also a regular contributor to Our Sacred Feminine Community Blog.