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 

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

  1. Disregard is so overrated, sometimes it is even seen as almost heroic if you disregard yourself in order to achieve something. And that attitude doesn’t usually get reverted until something drastic happens. It doesn’t even feel to be a choice, it is more of a posture towards life whether we afford care and love to ourselves.

  2. Indeed we can only ever step up our own level of self care, but interestingly others always seem to notice and there in lies the opportunity for others to make their own change.

  3. I used to have a great GP in Oxford, and although we only had ten minutes, you never felt like you were being rushed. Often he would go over time and wait longer for your appointment, but I didn’t mind because you knew that you were going to be listened to.

  4. It seems I am being constantly reminded in my workplace of the levels of disregard and uncaring or careless behaviours. I suddenly realised that the only thing I can really do is to step up the level of care I have for myself, by doing this I will feel so much better and it’s possible that some of this will rub off on my workmates too.

  5. such a great example to look at the mouth and what’s going on in there, huge signs that we could care for ourselves, but we ignore them..I did for a long time….to care for ourselves we need to care…how do we get to that place of caring….well one great support is, small steps to be honest, about why we do not and why we do not consider ourselves worth caring for…never assume, it is well worth asking ourselves questions and seeing if the answer lies within.

  6. The behaviours of self disregard are so normalised that we often don’t register that they are actually not doing us any good. I have often found seeing others role model another way of living that is more loving to be super supportive

  7. I do find that if I open up to somebody about something eg a disregarding way, it can open up a conversation and with a deepening awareness all round giving the opportunity to make changes, and quite often leading to others in conversation too. I agree being open and honest about this subject helps us all to make those changes.

  8. I recently sat waiting for some colleagues to join me in the lobby of a hotel and as I sat and watched the world go by what struck me was how many women wore extremely high heeled shoes. They seemed un aware of how this was affecting the physiology of their bodies which were seemingly bent out of shape to accommodate the forward body tilt that walking in high heels seem to produce. This is a small sample of how we abuse our bodies without even realising it.

  9. We’ve made self-disregard into a subject that is our business alone and are putting out the signals that we can do what we want regardless of the consequences, but there are consequences as the health service is buckling under the pressure of lifestyle diseases. Lifestyle diseases that can easily be reversed or improved upon if a person was, to be honest with how they are living or at least consider their choices.

  10. The level of self disregard and the abuse we inflict on ourselves in the world is really frightening to observe and see considering it is so opposite to the love we all are and it must take some huge force to inflict upon ourselves. An important sharing as is the answer offered “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.” Absolutely.

  11. Why is there no self-disregard in the animal kingdom, except with us humans? We are meant to be the smartest ones, top of the tree? The strongest and oldest living animals are vegetarians: gorillas, elephants and tortoises. Nature is always a reflection for us, so why don’t we open our eyes?

  12. When we look at this trend of self-disregard on the global scale, is it possible we need to consider why as a race of beings we are so abusive and disregarding of ourselves – almost as if there is a seed of dislike in ourselves towards our very bodies which we need to address and heal – what is it that the body offers and has the potential to offer that we are so focused on disrupting

    1. I’m familiar with that Rebecca, I know my body is the most precious thing now, yet have spent years in disregard of it. It wasn’t until I learned from the presentations by Serge Benhayon about the body being our key to expressing soulfully on earth that I could see the reason for the disregard – it provided a sure fire way to remain in the comfort of set ways and irresponsibility. Yet that way heads directly into ill health and disease rather than the vitality and value of a loved and nurtured body and soul.

    2. well said Rebecca – great question – why is it one of the most common things almost 7 billion of us seem to share is self-disregard? – no matter what context it seems to be in every corner of every society.

      1. Exactly – I have found the only person to provide an explanation that also has a way to heal the root cause and choose differently is Serge Benhayon.

    3. Rebecca a stunning consideration and pondering on something that by all means makes no sense, why abuse ourselves? It feels really sinister when I think about it and feel what that abuse is doing to each person as well as society.

      1. I agree – there is a sinister nature, especially the casual disregard and normalisation of the abuse.

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