The Spiritual Self


I don't know about you, but there have been (admittedly, many) times when I've felt numb or empty inside. Like there's no joy, meaning, or pleasure in life. It's the same ol' thing, day in and day out, while you try to keep up with life's demands as you watch the world crumble around you. 

Sorry. That got rather dark, rather quickly.

Anyway, a lot of us try to compensate with things like alcohol, shopping, gambling, gaming, binge-eating, social media scrolling or some other pleasure stimulant. And while these things do feel pretty good in the moment, they typically leave us feeling just as empty as before....if not emptier.

And this emptiness is one of the reasons why I want to talk about our Spiritual Self.

So, today we're gonna get into what the Spiritual Self is, how it affects our wellbeing, and how we can give it the juicy, tender love it deserves so our days can feel more pleasurable and purposeful.



Welcome to Creative Self Care. I'm your host Crystal McLain, and together we're exploring creative ways to care for the mind, body and mother-lovin' soul so we can live healthy, empowered lives, individually and collectively. 

If you enjoy this content, would like to support my work, AND score some sweet self care goodies, please consider a Patreon Membership for as little as $3 a month! Yup, three bucks…it’s like buying me a cup of coffee, but helps me pay the rent. To learn more about memberships and how funds are making a positive impact, you can visit:

And, if you like to read along WHILE you listen, you can access this feature through the blog version of this podcast. I’ll leave a direct link to this episode in the show notes below.

Alright. Let's get to it.


Before we talk about what the Spiritual Self IS, I want to quickly highlight our propensity to over indulge in pleasure-seeking habits. Especially those that don't actually serve or satisfy us.

I've spent most of my life feeling a fair amount of shame and guilt, simply because I existed. The details are too personal to share here with the whole free world, but I'll get into it more with my Patreon members. Anyway, these feelings kept me stuck in pleasure-seeking cycles which held me back from living a healthy, fulfilling life.

I also got hung up in people pleasing and external validation, which are also pretty soul sucking.

Anyway, when I finally did feel like becoming an active participant in my life, and decided to break away from those soul-numbing habits, my efforts were almost always met with resistance and resentment. That is, until I started paying attention to my Spiritual Self.

But HOW do we get stuck in these self-sabotaging habits in the first place?

Well, when we are faced with shitty feelings like shame, guilt or fear, our subconscious brain kinda freaks out because feeling BAD feels like a threat.

Our brains want us to feel better, because feeling GOOD means you're probably SAFE. So, we reach for familiar mood soothers that can quickly distract or numb us from those shitty feelings. And when we do this we also score a micro-dose of the feel-good hormones, like dopamine or serotonin. 

Now, if we regularly cancel out those shitty feelings with a quick hit of dirty dopamine, we reinforce this behavior. When we reinforce behaviors, we create habits. And eventually our habits become a lifestyle. And in my case, it was a lifestyle of numbing, distracting, and emptiness.

Cue the sad trombone.

Anyway, this is actually pretty normal. I think most of us do this on some level at some point in our lives. There's a lot of crazy, scary shit going on in the world, and I don't know too many people who've been untouched by trauma. Our brains need a way to cope, but sadly, we're not always taught the healthiest tools for the job. We also live in a culture where vulnerability is seen as a human failure, so we force ourselves to appear strong, productive, perfect or happy (even though we're not). 

We ignore or suppress our feelings.

We score hits of "happy" hormones with things that don't actually nurture or nourish us. 

We feel shitty because we're left feeling empty. 

So we ignore or suppress those feelings, and score another hit...and the cycle continues.

And that's why we're gonna talk about our Spiritual Self.


Alright, let's be honest. We actually DO need to find coping tools that help us escape from all the doom and drama in our lives. And we DO need quick and easy access to feelings of safety and security. But, there are ways of achieving that without leaving your soul feeling quite so empty. And you're gonna call on the wisdom of your Spiritual Self to do that. I'd also like to mention that you do NOT need religion to do this.

Religion will claim to provide a framework for developing one's Spiritual Self. BUT, the Spiritual Self isn't actually bound by any specific dogma or doctrine, because hello, there are more than 4,000 religions in the world, and not everybody is a subscriber- including myself.

YOU get to define your Spiritual Self, and determine what it needs to feel fulfilled.

Now, defining your Spiritual Self is a bit more subjective than, say, defining your Physical Self, where there are hard identifiers like a heart and a brain and skin, which all have certain functions that try to keep you in homeostasis. No. The Spiritual Self is...personal, and has more to do with your character than your tangible meat-suit, or a set of rules written by someone else. 

Essentially, the function of your Spiritual Self is to create deeper connections with yourself and the world around you.

It's the part of your being that seeks meaning, purpose, and connection BEYOND the material world. It's the deeply personal and introspective part of you that focuses on exploring your innermost thoughts, feelings, and beliefs while considering your values and ethics.

It's the part of you that challenges the narratives that have been set by capitalism, colonialism, the patriarchy, and maybe even your family.

And it's the part of you that should be making decisions about your (and the collective's) health, wellness, security and satisfaction.  

So, with that, let's figure out your personal brand of Spirit...

Something I've come to learn about life is, it's a lot easier (and enjoyable) to get through if I can find satisfaction within it...kinda like food.

While foods like Doritos and ice cream are delicious in the moment and super fun now and then, neither pack the nutrition my body needs to sustain a healthy life. And though foods like kale and lentils are super, duper good for me, living on them alone is going to be a total drag. Living on either end of the spectrum is NOT going to satisfy me. There's a big gap between what I want and what I need, and it's up to ME to find something in between that's both delicious AND nutritious. That's how satisfaction happens.

Spirituality is kind of like delicious nutrition for your soul. And how you GET that nutrition is by creating meaning and purpose in your life. And how you do THAT is by injecting your values, morals and interests into your daily routines. So let's do that.

The first thing you're going to want to do is determine what your values  are. Now, this may seem like a silly thing to advise, but, it's REALLY important that you are HONEST about this. 

As someone who was a chronic people pleaser, and operated from a place of guilt and shame, there was a time when I chose my values based on what I thought other people would find virtuous in me, and not the stuff that truly blew my skirt up. 

Choosing your values based on external validation is going to keep your soul-tank empty. 

What you're looking for are intrinsic motivators; the shit that's gonna grab your attention, spark your interest, and keep you feeling satisfied for the long-haul. It's the stuff that's truly important to YOU.

We can find value in things like family, education and community. Freedom, kindness and respect. There are LOTS of concepts that we can find importance in. But what I'm interested in are the the things that make you FEEL something. 

For instance, something I value is knowledge. I've been working intimately with folks and their self care since 2009. They come to me with some sort of stress, be it physical, mental or emotional. And through conversation, we discover the source of their discomfort. Once that happens, I share insight on how and why their body may be responding the way it is. And every time a client understands the physiological response of their brain and body, to their stressors, it puts them in a place of power

When a person has an understanding of how their body works, they become better equipped to take care of it. 

And this is true for EVERYTHING. The more you legitimately KNOW about something, be it the origin of your thoughts, your cell phone, or social constructs, the more efficiently or effectively you're going to be able to navigate it.

And that's why I get so fucking excited about knowledge.

Knowledge is also the thing that has saved my life. And that, my friend, is a true example of an intrinsic motivator. 

So, I encourage you, whatever your values are, take the time to really sit and think about what each one means to YOU. Let it crawl around inside your heart and feel it.

By the way, if you're a Patreon Member, part of today's bonus content is a list of more than 80 values to explore, as well as journal prompts, a purpose planner, and those personal stories I mentioned earlier. 

If you've been here at CMC for a while, then you know that we've explored the multiple aspects of self; the physical, mental, emotional, practical, social, and now the spiritual. You also know that each part of the self needs specific things in order to thrive, and that these selves depend on one another to maintain your wellbeing. WELL, when you are using your values to make decisions for the care of your physical, mental, emotional, practical, social and spiritual selves, then you are creating wellness practices that are going to feel more accessible, practical, sustainable AND satisfying. 

SO, what you're gonna wanna do is take a good hard look at how you're caring for each aspect of your self, and determine where you're already applying your values, and where you could start doing that. Bonus points if you write about HOW each of these values are affecting, or will affect your self care practices. 

Some of the most important places for our values is in our recreation, relaxation and pleasure.

Enjoying your favorite show with a cocktail isn't bad. Neither is scrolling on TikTok, playing your games, or eating a giant meat lover's pizza. You're totally allowed, and encouraged, to indulge in life's delicious offerings. It's when we use these things in excess to numb ourselves and check out of life, that I get concerned. It's when we've gotten sucked into a lifestyle that leaves us feeling perpetually empty and unsatisfied, that I worry about.

You deserve to have a life that has FEELINGS. And you deserve to know how to work with them.

So, think about the things you like to do, or would like to start doing. Think about the topics that interest you, hobbies you're drawn to, and the people and places that make you feel like your best self. How can you add your values? How can you make your rest, relaxation and pleasure-seeking moments more delicious, nutritious and satisfying?

Alright, my friend, remember, your Spiritual Self is the part of you that creates a deeper connection with yourself and the world around you.

It's the part of you that takes the time to explore your inner most thoughts, feelings and beliefs, and creates meaning and purpose in your life by using your values as your compass. 

When your daily actions and self care are aligned with what your soul truly needs, you feel...good. And when you feel good, you do good. And, collectively, we need that right now. 

One of the reasons I encourage folks to get creative with their self care is because we desperately need to feel whole again. We need to be able to see what's right and true and healthy and supportive, and stop literally buying into corporate or political shenanigans. I can't help but think that if we all just pause for a moment and listen to our heart, we'll find our way to a better world. 

I love you. 
I appreciate you. 
Thank you so much for taking the time to be here. 
I'll see you soon.

If you appreciate this post, would like to support my work, and want to become a part of a community of allies and advocates who are making a positive impact on the world, you can become a Patreon Member for as little as $3 month. I hope to see you soon. 


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