Self-disregard: can we turn the tide of this modern day plague?

By Jane Keep, London, UK 

Look at any headline in the news, or on social media and you will likely see that the NHS and other healthcare services world-wide are under continuous pressure due to the ever-growing demand from rising illness and disease in their local populations.  And more and more we are learning that illness and disease is linked to lifestyle. Given this, what is the trajectory looking like? If it continues to increase as it is, due to the way we are living our lives, the rising tide of illness and disease will overwhelm healthcare and bankrupt governments, reducing the productivity of our cities, nations, and the world as we become a society dependent upon needing care for our ailments and woes.

There are definitely times when we need to call on the support of healthcare, and my observations of working in the NHS for 38 years now, show that healthcare professionals work exceptionally hard to deliver the best services they can.

One of the issues healthcare professionals face is the tiny amount of time they have with each patient. Often appointments are booked on a continuous conveyor belt of one in, one out, with little time to discuss anything beyond the presenting issue. All the while during their busy days, healthcare professionals will observe patients and they will likely be aware of some lifestyle factors that may be contributing to their patients’ lack of health and wellbeing.

In this, it is highly likely that doctors, nurses, dentists, and all healthcare professionals will observe time and time again patients in whom there is a level of self-disregard.  This self-disregard could show in many ways – let’s take an example:

A hygienist in a dental practice I know sees a lot of self-disregard in the mouths of her patients. She feels that that information – her observation of what she ‘reads’ in the mouths of her patients – is not ‘hers’ and when the mouth of her patient is showing something, she raises the issue gently by asking them a question about the way they are living to get a sense of whether the patient is aware of what is going on. Where there is an opportunity, she will also gently discuss how self-disregard is impacting on their mouth/dental care, and overall sense of wellbeing. She leaves it with them to consider, no force, just sharing what she observes.  The only time when she is firm is when she sees something serious in their mouth and she needs to refer them on for further care (e.g. potential mouth cancer). She has seen young people in their 20’s with potential mouth cancer and she is more and more concerned about the way we are living, and the level of self-disregard she observes in patients’ mouths.

In this, we could say self-disregard is any number of things, e.g. not cleaning our teeth regularly, eating foods that do not nourish our body, drinking beverages that do not truly support our hydration, grabbing food on the go with little or no time to digest it, pushing our body to the extremes on over-rigorous exercise or not partaking in any exercise whatsoever, ignoring our body and the signs and symptoms it gives us, not wearing warm clothes on a cold frosty day.  All of which affect the quality of our health, our hair, skin, teeth, eyes, posture, all aspects of our anatomy and physiology, and our general sense of wellbeing.

This raises a question: if we observe self-disregard in a patient, as a practitioner, who does that information belong to? Is it for us only, to know but to ‘live and let live’, or is it something to be expressed to the patient? Where does a duty of care begin and end in this case?

And what if part of that duty of care also lies with us as citizens, as patients – are we open to receiving those observations and to discussing self-disregard, with a view to understanding that the way we are living can lead to illness and disease or true wellbeing, and making true changes to our daily life?

What if the topic of self-disregard was a much-needed conversation amongst us all – whereby we started to look at and understand not only how much self-disregard we are currently living in, but also the impact this way of living is having on our health, on our healthcare services and on our world?

Maybe in time to come we will choose to live openly, transparently, and honestly – where we appreciate the observations of others including our healthcare practitioners about our self-disregard, or where we feel we can openly talk about this not just in our healthcare appointments, but also in our daily lives.

In the end it is us who turn the tide of change, and we have to start somewhere – where better to start than with self-disregard? When we start to heal the level of self-disregard we have been living with, and begin to regard ourselves as truly worthy of tender love and care, and treating ourselves with this deep self-regard, we will collectively turn the tide of illness and disease that is currently threatening to overwhelm us.


Read more:

  1. Responsibility and Dental Health
  2. Letter to my body – from trash tip to temple 

744 thoughts on “Self-disregard: can we turn the tide of this modern day plague?

  1. These are truly wise words and expose our society for the lack of love and care that we have for ourselves and each other – and so it is a start for us to begin making a chance and collectively so: “When we start to heal the level of self-disregard we have been living with, and begin to regard ourselves as truly worthy of tender love and care, and treating ourselves with this deep self-regard, we will collectively turn the tide of illness and disease that is currently threatening to overwhelm us.”

    1. The threatening is now a full-blown attack that is overwhelming us all, not just medical professionals. The time for discussion has passed. If we leave things as they are we will all be taken by the riptide.

  2. How important is it to explore the words ‘Regard’ and ‘Dis-regard’ in terms of understanding what they really mean! Disregard to me is simply when we choose to be in a way or do things in a way that is not supportive in some way or another. What I have also come to realise is that people have different degrees or levels of regard/dis-regard. As we grow and learn to care more deeply for ourselves our basic way of being can be one that no longer supports the growth, and so something that may have seemed fine before the growth, can be very unsupportive with the new phase of growth. And so regard is an ever-evolving process of always tuning in to find out what is needed next to truly support.

    1. Great point Henrietta – these are words we don’t often seem to discuss, or explore, whether at work, or in our daily lives. And, in my experience when we do talk about disregard sometimes we don’t want to realise the degree of our irresponsibility or the ripple effect it has caused not only us but those around us.

      1. What is interesting to note here is the level of disregard we have accepted as the norm now makes any level of regard be consider ‘weird’ or out of the ordinary.

  3. How much of what we hear in the media can we trust to be True and we should be hearing about the dis-regard that is the start of this modern day plague. So is this plague made by the irresponsible way we are living? Then if living in a way that holds us, True care, self-loving and being responsible are the keys to us returning to our essence.

  4. The season of gluttony and self-excess is upon us once again! Tis the season of the tsunami of self-disregard! Without this giant wave, there would not be a reason for the new years resolutions! What if, we did not imbibe and see and feel this period as a repose to appreciate where we have come from and where the next door leads us.

  5. It was interesting to read about the difference for all healthcare practitioners between having a ‘live and let live’ approach or actively, with love and care, expressing what has been observed during the treatment session. And it occurs to me that when a healthcare practitioner is seen for whatever ailment or procedure, we as ‘the patients’ are very vulnerable. And so, the skill in how to express with love, to me, seems like something that any practitioner must take in to every aspect of their life and that this is an absolute that must not ever be taken for granted. For to be a true practitioner who facilitates true healing, surely there has to be at least a lived quality of love that is brought in to the treatment room for love to be expressed.

  6. If we started to talk openly about self-disregard, our own and that which we observe in others, would we become more aware of the downward slide it sets up and the enduring impact on our well-being?

  7. This is an amazing article sharing so much about the way we live our self disregard and the simplicity of change that can occur with taking responsibility for ourselves.

  8. In my experience self regard and caring for ourselves is the cornerstone of all else. It allows us to build a foundation on which we can build a healthy ever increasingly purposeful life for ourselves

  9. There is a great simplicity in discussing self disregard yet it is vast and opens up doors that naturally lead to other aspects of our lives, so by addressing one thing, in this case our mouth hygiene, there is the potential for so much more to unfold in terms of our lifestyle choices. Thus I agree what a practitioner observes is valuable and it is necessary for the person to hear as whatever the behaviour is, it is likely to be considered as normal. The sharing gives us an opportunity to stop, reconsider and make different choices – if we choose – to bring true changes to our health and well being.

  10. I think one of the first steps in turning this tide is to be truly honest with ourself, to recognise when we’ve been dis-regarding, often signalled to us by our body, so then we give ourselves the chance to be open to doing things differently…

    1. …and also to be honest with ourselves about why we have chosen this disregarding behaviour. There is always a reason behind it that needs to be uncovered, understood and healed before we can truly change our choices.

  11. Self-disregard is pandemic, and there is on offer now, without any apology, a new way to see self-care and what that means for us as humans. A way that incorporates us as souls within a body, a body that needs to be deeply honoured so our soul can deliver the work it needs to in our life.

  12. It is indeed time to ‘turn the tide on this modern day plague’ – self-disregard has become normal… and it is so not normal when we consider we are innately and naturally all-loving soulful beings.

  13. The subject of self-disregard is definitely one conversation that we need to urgently begin and will need to keep on having for a very long time. Unfortunately, I feel that most of humanity would not even consider that they are being disregarding to their bodies as this way of living has become an accepted normal, one where if you become unwell you simply look for someone to fix you. This is one very destructive normal that needs to be very quickly dismantled if we are to save our valuable health systems from collapsing under the weight of disregard, demand and debt.

  14. I used to live, work and socialise in a consciousness where self-disregard was the norm therefore it wasn’t questioned and the attitude was oh it won’t happen to me, as our mates were dying around us or falling ill. It is time to make healthy living and healthy lifestyles our main focus so everyone has the facts therefore having a choice.

  15. ” Self-disregard: can we turn the tide of this modern day plague? ” Yes, the key is to work on self and recognise the ill one is in and then work on how one would support an ill person.

  16. It will take us to hit to rock bottom to realise that this is not the way. And that The Way, is not to improve or better what we have but to pioneer a new way forth that supports humanity in all aspects.

  17. In some ways each and every illness and disease is some kind of a disregard of a deeper knowing of how to live life in the true sense of the word – if we deviate away from our natural and innate connection that guides us to live life in a caring, and deeply respectful way, then the body at some point must clear this out – be it in this lifetime or the next, and hence the purpose of illness and disease. It is not something to fight nor resist, but it is about embracing it and taking full responsibility for our choices. It is clear that the vast majority of illness and disease is life style related so there is much to take responsibility in a very obvious way, but an important part of the healing is also to explore why it is that we make choices that are un-supportive when we know better…it does not make sense from a pure temporal level as people are not stupid…hence there must be some other governing force that has an influence on us – and it is super important that we realize this so that we can then begin to understand how to overcome it.

  18. To live in a way that does not allow self disregard not only hugely supports us as individuals but it also supports everyone else. People are inspired just by what they see and feel, often unknowingly so, and often make changes in thier own lives as a result.

  19. There are always new levels of self dis-regard that we can uncover, from the more obvious what we eat and how we sleep to the way we think about ourselves, how we prepare ourselves for sleep and the details of how we dress, how we walk, how we touch a door handle – absolutely everything matters.

  20. Self-regard and self-care becomes more and more refined. For one person it may be a big change like quitting alcohol. For another it may be something seemingly small like the amount of a certain ingredient that they use in cooking. The more we take care of ourselves the more we feel the effects of unloving choices and the more sensitive we are. Refinement and adaption is necessary the deeper into self-care we go.

  21. It is indeed us who will turn the tide… when we develop an honest and true relationship with ourselves – one that is self-loving, joyful and harmonious within us, then we will be offering that same quality in our relationships with all others.

  22. I love the word ‘Self disregard’ as immediately, it brings ones awareness to check-in and self-assess on the way we live with ourselves… prompting the question… Do I regard or disregard my body? Is there a more loving way i could live that honours my body? These type of questions are medicinal to the body

  23. Learning to be self regarding and self loving for ourselves is a responsibility that is well worth the choice to make as the reflections we can offer others, especially our younger ones can be immeasurable.

  24. I recently saw a snippet of a documentary into the ‘state’ of our NHS, and what struck me is that they were showing a very full accident and emergency department and a wait time of around 12 hours to be seen, due to the enormous amounts of patients and a shortage of beds/staff… Instead of using the ‘shock factor’ of this to show humanity that healthcare needs more funding/attention, should we not be looking at why there are so many of us visiting the A&E in such a short space of time? How are we living?

  25. Disregard runs through us like a fine or not so fine lace and we either give in to its ways or we stand up for ourselves and make a choice to act with regard for ourselves and others. If we give in it strangles us all in the net it provides and creates pandemonium. When we make a conscious choice to take responsibility for our own health and well being then our lives change and we begin to reclaim authority in our lives and feel the power that this brings.

  26. It is very powerful to turn self-disregard around to self-regard, self-worth… and in the process you wonder why you ever lived in such disregard because the love, joy, vitality and pure yumminess of nurturing and honouring you is exquisite… and naturally inspires others.

  27. Simply by virtue of being aware of our own self-disregard and actually taking that on board, by turning it around and addressing where we neglect to take care of ourselves, we will naturally deepen our own understanding of the many layers that contribute to this behaviour. And by changing how we are with ourselves, others will feel this ripple effect for themselves.

  28. If we are honest about what we see, disregard is everywhere.
    It is like, everybody is doing it so it must be ok.
    If we get honest with ourselves and take real responsibility for our lives, this Is the start of changing this pattern of disregard in the world.

  29. When I did my nursing training years ago, we were taught to do care plans highlighting the patient’s main issues/problems that need to be addressed. I would say that self-disregard could easily be a standing item on the care plan of almost every patient. Disregard and abuse of our bodies has become the norm and is seriously in need of a turn around to support positive and effective lifestyle change. The key ingredient in this turn around will be building genuine care and love for our bodies and ourselves, rather than seeing it as going to the gym or being on a diet.

  30. The observation and what each health professional reads in their client in their specialist area, like your example of the dentist, is insight for the patient that if shared with them will have a very far reaching effect on their health and well-being – not just on the localised part of that patient’s body that is being observed and read.

  31. Quite phenomenal Jane, that if we each started to undo the disregarding behaviours we’ve developed, we would by the same stroke begin to turn the tide of illness and disease that is currently overwhelming the Health System.

  32. ‘Often appointments are booked on a continuous conveyor belt of one in, one out, with little time to discuss anything beyond the presenting issue.’ This is so true of our health systems, but what hope have they got if we constantly crowd our hospitals and doctors waiting rooms because we live in away that disregards and depletes our body. And then we are so willing hand over the responsibility that we ultimately have to care for our own health and well being.

  33. When we live in disregard and irresponsibility we place such a burden on our health care system. To the extent where it becomes more about acute crisis management rather than medicine offering its full breadth of knowledge and care.

  34. To really start to address self – disregard, there has to be an honouring of our bodies. In other words, we have to feel that we are worth taking care of.

  35. Jane I volunteer at my local hospital and quite honestly I’m in awe of the nurses and medical staff that run the hospital, the patients have nothing but praise for them. So I would agree with you that the NHS despite the melt down it is going through, somehow still seems to provide an amazing service to the patients. But we do need to find a way to educate people to take more care of them selves. We seem to think we are invincible especially when we are young and that we can treat our bodies in the most disrespectful way; until that day dawns and our bodies show us otherwise.

  36. This plague lies at the root of the whole human dilemma i.e. that the human spirit incarnated to have fun trashing the body because it knew that it was immortal and would never die and could just get a new one – so let’s do whatever we please (under the illusion that this is a real freedom). The only true freedom on earth is to be able to be in contact with multidimensional Love and Intelligence, and to do that we have to be in regard to ourselves and our body big time.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s