"Work It Girl!" – Tania Doub

Self-Care Through Sacrifice

In Armenian Christian tradition, matagh is a lamb or a rooster slated for sacrifice to God.  

While extreme! And brutal! This offering is in fact rooted in deep tradition.  As Araxie Cass says in her post on matagh, “this practice of sacrifice, called matagh, has existed for so long that it was a ritual in Armenia’s ancient religion. When the country converted to Christianity in 301 AD, the church embraced this practice, redefining it as a way for believers to remember and focus on the blessings in their lives. It is often done after traumas, such as the illness of a family member, or around major events, such as marriages or births, so that the sacrificers can gain strength and healing through the act of giving.” 

Growing up as a first generation Armenian in America, while it was highly unlikely I would ever see this extreme practice at my own church, I do remember growing up with the unwavering belief that sacrifice was incredibly important and in fact a big part of our lives.  To give an offering of food, objects… anything, really… to a higher purpose, for a greater good, in exchange for your own inner peace and harmony.  Before her passing, my grandmother would quietly speak of the big sacrifices she had made over her lifetime in the form of matagh, after various trauma, pain, or illness.  And she had always found peace, comfort, and inner strength, as a result.

The ritual of matagh transforms your personal sacrifice into an act of self-care, one that heals you and gives you strength to take on life’s challenges. It takes you out of your ordinary life and engages you in an action that connects you to God and to others. This allows you to be mindful and feel gratitude for the gifts that you have been given.  And that state of mind is precisely what creates greater personal strength. 

While I can personally do without the actual sacrifice of any animal…personal strength…now I could use some of that!  But how the heck do you go about the pursuit of something so big!

A friend of mine had recently given me a journal for record keeping and organization in the new year.  I guess I could start there…

I cracked the cover and read through the introduction.  “Intention Setting” – and I immediately recorded “find happiness!”  “In pursuit of…” and I recorded “joy in my work and being awesome in my everyday life.”  And then it went through a bunch of general accountability questions and a ton of copy letting you know about the daily, weekly and quarterly reviews that were packed in the pages ahead.  “I got this”, I thought, “fun!”

Then I turned to page 8 only to find the very first benchmark exercise that simply said:

In the last three months I have – 

PUSHED MYSELF FOR MORE

I am proud to say I am a better version of myself than I was three months ago.

STAYED COMFORTABLE

I know I have not pushed myself as hard as I could have.  I am committed to leaving my comfort zone this quarter. 

REGRESSED

I feel frustrated because I’ve fallen off track. I feel like I’m not as strong (be it mentally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually) as I once was.

 

Well I could have zipped right through this exercise and fooled myself into a state of awesomeness.  But something stopped me in my tracks. If I’m really looking for the pursuit of happiness and finding joy in my every day, then why was my intention to “find happiness” and why was I “in pursuit of joy and awesomeness…”?  Wasn’t I happy and joyful and awesome already???? So rather than pick the easy road, I circled REGRESSED, and decided in that moment, I had some work to do. 

REGRESSED

I feel frustrated because I’ve fallen off track. I feel like I’m not as strong (be it mentally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually) as I once was.

 

OK so if I’m following all of this, then sacrifice leads to self-care; self-care is meant to heal; healing is meant to give you strength; strength is meant to make you more mindful; mindfulness is meant to make you feel gratitude; and gratitude is meant to give you personal strength, then…

I need to start with self-care!

So what is self-care, really?  Is it eating healthy? Going to the gym? Getting enough sleep? Being kind to others?  Gratitude? Yeah, I suppose it’s all of those things. Or some combination of those things.  But how the heck are those little things supposed to give me transformative growth and personal strength.  

By definition, self-care is any necessary human regulatory function which is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated that produces positive feelings that will in turn improve confidence and self-esteem.  

So on that day, January 1, 2020, I decided to take my first baby step and simply make a list of the things I consider to be my version of self-care:

  1. Make exercise a priority 
  2. Wake up refreshed before my alarm goes off at 6:30am
  3. Stop feeling so sluggish every day
  4. Love and appreciate my family every single day
  5. Spend my days doing things that bring me joy 

Then I decided to make a simple list of the actions I would need to take to meet those goals:

  1. Get to my CrossFit class every morning
  2. Go to bed before 10pm
  3. Eat clean
  4. Eliminate alcohol – instead drink 100oz of water each day
  5. Tell yourself you are awesome and joyful, until you feel awesome and joyful

And without giving it a second thought, or worrying about a bigger purpose, I just got going on this list.  

And 60 days later, this happened…

  1. Eight pounds weight loss
  2. T2B (Toes to Bar) which may not seem like a big deal but I’ve been working on this for the last 8 YEARS at CrossFit! No joke.
  3. Manifesting opportunities for my business
  4. Rekindling old friendships and relationships
  5. Eight hours of sleep every night!
  6. No bags under my eyes in the morning! (imagine that!)
  7. I booked a guest appearance on a podcast
  8. More time reading to my kids
  9. The ability to walk right by a pile of laundry without feeling a compulsive need to get it done, or else! 
  10. A new job!  

And while this list normally would seem too disciplined and WAY TOO HARD… this time, it felt… well, easy.  Focusing on my priorities gave me less time to focus on the negative. The noise.  

And the results were nothing short of extraordinary.  Turns out, the greatest gift I had given myself, is the knowledge that I have the power to manifest my very own dose of personal strength… to help get me through anything.  

 

Reference blog post: http://www.rebirtharmenia.com/blog/2018/9/14/matagh-self-care-through-sacrifice

2 thoughts on “Self-Care Through Sacrifice”

  1. Inspirational-I’m so proud of you! It’s motivating to me to read your words. I miss you & hope that you & your family are hanging in strong these days.

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