By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP
Treating patients every day is an interesting look into the human condition. When I started my acupuncture schooling, I thought I was getting into medicine, but really, I was getting into a career that would teach me about people. Their struggles, their pain, their illnesses were what I would see every day at work. In my first few years as an acupuncturist I was amazed at the things that people would tell me in our sessions. I was amazed at all the difficult things that people were dealing with in their lives. It was humbling, and helped me to be more empathetic to the humans that I encountered inside and outside of work.
On the way to work in the morning, when everyone looked so tired and grumpy, I would sit on the subway and imagine what was happening in the lives of all these people who often looked so exhausted, like they hadn’t been living life, it had been living them. Based on the things that my patients were telling me on a daily basis, I knew that everyone was dealing with hard things, and that although this is a part of life, it is so important to not only be kind to others, but it is supremely important to be kind to ourselves. We all need a little self love, baby.
Eating properly, exercising, drinking clean water and getting enough sleep are what we all know we need to be healthy, but they are only one part of a much larger picture. How you feel, and how you treat yourself are just as important, and these are the parts that are most often neglected. Most doctors aren’t going to tell you to be kinder to yourself because its good for your health. There is no test that can be ordered that will determine that you are deficient in self love. But, I can tell very quickly when someone comes into my office if they are in need of self love. And the interesting thing is that this is sometimes the cause their illness.
One of the things that I tell my patients who are in need of some self love is that they should do one nice thing for themselves every day as part of their treatment. This can be as simple as having a bath, going for a walk, making yourself your favourite meal or curling up with a good book. And I ask them to really think about these things. What makes you happy? What gives you energy? What feeds you? That is what you should be doing. Taking some time every day to do it, and doing it MINDFULLY. :)
As we move into the future, life becomes increasingly complex and difficult for many people. There are increasing pressures on people to survive and thrive in our society. This struggle takes its toll on us as a species and as individuals. This can be seen in the terrible news stories about school shootings, escalating violence and a rise in mental illness. We live in a society where populations are exploding and we are living in huge cities, but we have never been more isolated or alone. I am not suggesting that a little self love will solve these global problems, but I believe that it is the foundation of many of the problems we presently face. A little empathy for your fellow human being, the people in your community, your family, your friends, strangers you encounter day to day and perhaps most importantly some self love would be a step in the right direction.
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