this week’s work

I’m working on some pretty complicated self-care stuff.  My therapist is unaware of exactly what I’m doing, but after my last session, I really started thinking about a) why self-care is SO hard for me, and b) how to change that pattern.

My normal way is to just come up with a big list of shoulds.  To come up with timelines and 100 ways to beat myself up–mostly because that old mode of being brings out the inner perfectionist and control freak.

I watched or read something, somewhere, about the idea that bad self-care reflects low self-worth.  And that caught my attention–felt right to me.  The funny thing is–I’ve known for a while that I must have a worth issue–and yes–it showed up when I moved out to California–but it’s also something I disconnect from.  I have a hard time feeling that pain.  I know it exists, but it’s buried so deep that it’s hard to keep it in a spot where it can be healed.  I think that has to be the focus of my future therapy.  But until we start that work, I really want to focus on setting up practices and a way of thinking about self-care that breaks that old taskmaster way I’ve always embraced.

A funny thing happened recently–after dealing with all this dental pain.  I realized I really didn’t like being in pain.  Even small amounts of pain.  And it was all preventable.  So, I got a mouthguard to stop some of the grinding damage (until I can get a custom one).  I bought a ton of holistic things to help support dental health.  I bought a new, awesome water pik.  I vowed to get a really high end electric toothbrush.  And instead of brushing 2x a day, I started brushing 2x a day plus after every meal.  I took my time instead of rushing.  And that practice led me to other really good self-care practices that I’d gotten lax about–like remembering my medicine and taking care of my skin.  Doing these things really help me with stress, and I’m not grinding my teeth as much.

I realized that this practice stuck because I had immediate consequences if I didn’t follow through.  I understood the impact.  And it tapped into a core value for me.  Fix it mode was in place too, but it was those other things that drove fix-it mode.  What if I could figure out how to activate that motivation before the crisis hit?

So, after reflecting, I decided to focus on the various aspects of self-care.  I even researched what people in “helping” professions did–or were trained to do–to help them keep sane and healthy.  That helped me organize my thinking.  So, now, I’m doing the following:

  • Creating an overall vision for self-care.  Creating visions for various aspects of it.
  • Breaking down my needs into categories.
  • Breaking those down into sub-categories.
  • Using my visions to create milestones/goals.
  • Identifying layers of urgency.  Meaning–what is the bare minimum I need to survive–all the way up to what habits support thriving?

All of this is being tackled from three perspectives–the artist, the scientist, and my functional adult–so everyone has a say.  Shoulds are not allowed.  But I am identifying core values and looking at what the consequences are–what are emergency things I can do?  How do I hold myself accountable in loving ways?

For me, it’s about empowering those parts of myself that feel unheard–including them in the conversation.

There’s a lot more there.  And I will share.  But one need I’ve identified is definitely writing oriented.  So, I may start writing more here.  I’ve got to think about that, though.

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