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 

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

  1. ‘Self-disregard: can we turn the tide of this modern day plague?’ – My answer would be a definite yes, but only if we are willing to take responsibility for our own choices and see how they in turn affect, not only our health and wellbeing, but everyone and everything around us. Nothing will ever change if we choose to sit around and wait for someone to come and save us or do the changes for us.

    1. I agree Eva. And you make a great point – that whatever we do, say or think there is always a ripple effect. We may feel that when we abuse ourselves e.g. over eat, or over indulge that it is only us that is affected – but the truth is that there is always a ripple effect that goes beyond our own physical flesh.

  2. We pride ourselves as being the most intelligent species on the planet, but I’m not sure there are any other species who have such high levels of self-disregard. The way we treat ourselves is quite shocking when you truthfully look at it.

  3. You have raised things here I know I need to look at in my daily living and I am living choosing to be aware so how many people don’t even contemplate what self-disregard is?

  4. Such a much needed conversation and really when we stop and look at all the statistics and rate of ill-ness and dis-ease we are actually being forced to look at it, that is why we are getting sick. So what will happen if we don’t listen the first, the second time and so on, what if we continue to compound in our being a disregard so strong and deep? Welcome to the multi symptomatic man/woman and how there is a regular issue that we are being presented with. What I love is how Serge Benhayon has been presenting since 1999 the body is the marker of all truth. So when are we going to start to take responsibility for our choices?

    1. Yes I agree Natalie. 17 years ago I didn’t listen to my body and in the end I was burnt out with 5 medical conditions – and my body had showed me so many symptoms yet I constantly ignored them. If I hadn’t ignored them it is unlikely I would have reached burnout. Our health really is in our hands.

  5. Self disregard comes in many forms, from ignoring the messages the body gives us to pushing ourselves in self abuse by misguided ideals. I find the present trend of the whole exercise industry is fuelled by self disregard. We are not listening to our bodies, but allowing our heads to take control and as a result, disregarding how the body is feeling. In my opinion as a health care professional, the body is not designed to run marathons.

  6. Tender loving care seems like a pretty good place to start turning the world around, in every direction, ourselves, others, everywhere. As we start to apply this to ourselves we become more aware of what is needed in a wider picture too.

  7. We all know that poor health is the result of poor lifestyle choices, yet we have not looked at what is underneath those poor lifestyle choices. What is underneath is self-disregard. So really addressing our self-disregard will go along way to turning around our current health crises.

  8. I feel healthcare systems are acutely aware that something has to change as they cannot be financially sustainable the way they are going. However, we the public do not seem so concerned about our rising ill-health, as having at least one chronic disease has become the norm. I also see that the way health professionals and systems deal with people hasn’t really changed from its paternalistic, experts who will fix-it roots. As Einstein once suggested, to seek answers from the thinking that caused the problem in the first place will only lead to similar solutions, as it’s all coming from the same thinking. This is what I see in health, that while we are not willing to embrace energetic responsibility, we will only have band aids not true change.

    1. Great points here Fiona. We cannot fix any problem from the place that started it, we have to go to another level, a bigger picture, a deeper awareness. We are in a world health crisis of bankruptcy if we open our eyes to see it, and we need self-responsibility more than anything else.

    2. Yes, using the same thinking to fix what that thinking created in the first place does not work. It explains well how solutions go round and round in circles. A new system is introduced as if it’s new but speak to old timers and they’ll remember when the ‘new’ system was in use years ago. But it was found wanting so another then ‘new’ system was introduced: now the soon to be old system. The changeover causes disruption which distracts us from having to accept no system works unless we addresses our lack of energetic responsibility.

  9. I agree Jane, this discussion is very much needed. Some many accidents, illnesses and disease can be prevented if we live with greater self- regard. Plus our relationship would also flourish because it brings out the fullness of who we are, with love, tenderness and care towards ourselves this will naturally be reflected out towards others and the world.

  10. My diet and way of life is so much ‘healthier’ than it has ever been, but I still find myself falling into areas of dis-regard. I use ‘healthy’ food to overeat or comfort me, and I find myself moving in a way that is dis-regarding. It’s a different level of awareness and refinement, but it’s still dis-regard. This is a big thing to knock on the head.

    1. I agree Rebecca – and it is partly difficult to knock on the head as it is seen as ‘normal’ in the world – so much daily self dis-regard is regarded as normal – so when we do change the way we live we feel like we are swimming against the tide.

  11. ‘ 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.’ So true Jane, it is completely and totally up to us.

  12. “What if the topic of self-disregard was a much-needed conversation amongst us all” I agree it would change so many things in life, as self-disregard is behind many of the ways we live life.

  13. I found it was easy to ignore the self disregard I used to live in my life because it was my normal, and the normal of all around me. It isn’t until we start to feel how that accumulates and we get an illness that makes us stop and look how we have been living that this is exposed. Our way of living is in our hands, we have free will to make our choices but the body will take the hit as a result of those choices when they are not loving choices.

  14. It’s a sobering but so needed conversation: what is the impact on my body, health and wellbeing of the disregard I choose to be in?

  15. ‘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?’ – It is certainly possible, if and when we are willing to take full responsibility for our own choices and own up to the fact that every choice we make comes with a consequence.

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