Be Your Own Valentine

Valentine’s Day can be the cause of great joy and great stress. When we have a special someone in our lives we feel we have to work extra hard to keep them and when we do not have that special someone we feel we must spend all our energy trying to find them.

On Valentine’s Day, and truly every day, we can be so invested in keeping or finding our special someone, or being very sad that we have lost them or have not found them, that we forget to love the person who needs it, deserves it, and benefits most….ourselves.

Do you love yourself? Do you make you happy? Do you practice self love?

If you answer no to these questions, perhaps it is time to start changing that, right now, this moment, today. And to build in love for yourself on every day of the year.

If you believe that you do not or can not love yourself, why is that true for you? Where did that belief start in your life? You were not born not loving yourself. It started at some point after that. Experiences, trauma, caregivers who caused you to form this belief, internalize someone else’s beliefs as your own. We do not wake up one day as an infant and decide that we, ourselves, do not love ourselves any longer. We are conditioned to believe this. How were you conditioned to answer no to the question of do you love yourself?

Are you happy with yourself? If the answer is no, what parts of yourself are you not happy with? And why did you become unhappy with those parts? Again, who informed that belief, who gave you that belief? What experiences caused that belief to become something you now accept? You were not born unhappy with yourself. How were you conditioned to believe that you make you unhappy?

If you answered no to the first two, it is highly unlikely that you practice self love. When is the last time you did something to show love to yourself? Were you taught that to think of yourself and do things for yourself was selfish? Were you taught that you had to or needed to take care of others and care about their happiness before your own? When you were born your own needs were very important to you – food, care, clothing, safety. When did that change?

“Loving yourself… does not mean being self-absorbed or narcissistic, or disregarding others. Rather it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion.” —Margo Anand

Loving yourself is the most kind, respectful thing that you can do for you every single day. Repeat after me – I love myself, I am worthy of loving myself, I deserve to love myself, my love for myself makes me happy with myself.

Be your own valentine!

Until next time be well,

Deborah

Your Life Matters

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Your life matters.

In the last few weeks, many of my clients have expressed an increase of anxiety, worry, feeling a loss of control, and not taking care of themselves. Many have stated that much of their time is spent worrying about other people, other events and crises, and just about anything but themselves.

They often say that all these other things matter more than taking care of themselves and often add that if they do self-care or even think about self-care they feel selfish.

Self-care is not selfish. It is sustainability. It is resilience. It is rest. It is renewal. It is filling your vessel so that you have something to pour out to other people and things.

Self-care is immensely important. Especially in times like these. Just the overwhelming nature of anxiety and worry and adding serving other people and things is so great that we can easily find ourselves crushed.

We then feel hopeless, defeated, tired, empty, sick, and lost.

Many people push back at the idea of self-care because they think it must be some grand gesture or huge undertaking that they assume they have no time for. But self-care can be minutely small and still have a huge impact.

If you get up five to ten minutes earlier before anyone else and spend time alone just gathering yourself and your thoughts. You can have a cup of coffee or tea, read a short uplifting or motivational item, sit and watch the sunrise, meditate, deep breathing, a warm washcloth to your face, stretching, yoga, or anything you can put in just a short few minutes.

It can change your life.

If you schedule all this time for other people and their needs and events and other things or events and it is in your calendar of things you have to do, there is nothing stopping you from scheduling time for yourself in the exact same way except you.

Make time in your calendar for something just for you. Again, it does not have to be grand or huge and does not have to consume a lot of time. But it does have to be just for your, to serve to fill you up, to build you up, to give you strength, to reset your mind, to feed your body. Something to relax you or invigorate you as you need.

Plan for your self-care. Schedule it. Follow through with it. Accept it. Know that it is for your good and therefore the good of everyone and everything around you. When you are filled and cared for, it is so much easier to fill and care for other people and other things.

Vary your self-care to serve all the parts of yourself. Sometimes you fill the creative you. Other times you fill the physical you. Still other times you fill the mental or spiritual you. And even still other times you fill the you that just wants to take a power nap.

Try something you have always wanted to do but felt you had no time or that it was selfish to do so when so many other people and things needed your attention. Have you ever wanted to paint, or learn to crochet, or mix essential oils, or make a body scrub, or try a something active, or start a journal.

ANYTHING works for self-care as long as it is about filling yourself up in some way or replenishing some part of yourself.

Do not wait until you think you will have more time. If you have time for other people and other things you have time for yourself. Choose to love yourself because your life matters.

Self Care Is Not Selfish

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Many times during sessions when I work with clients on the importance of self-care, they respond that they feel doing things for themselves is selfish. Self-care is never selfish, it is essential for your mental and physical health.

Some people have never considered self-care at all. Through their own traumas and negative beliefs they have been taught about themselves, they feel that they must always be taking care of others.

Smoothing over any chaos or anger in others to keep the peace. Making other people happy so more trauma doesn’t happen.

Many times people who have suffered trauma feel that they must always say yes to everyone around them to keep them happy. Again, to keep the peace, avoid more trauma.

And then there are those who are codependent feeling they must ensure others are taken care of, especially those who do not take care of themselves such as people with addictions. People can feel that they are responsible for everyone else to make sure they are safe but provide no safety for themselves.

In many relationships, when people do attempt self-care, others can make them feel selfish and even tell them that they are being selfish and thinking only of themselves. Toxic and abusive relationships are filled with those who will make others feel badly for wanting to take care of themselves or wanting to change their lives.

Self-care is absolutely imperative for your own mental and physical health. If you do not take care of yourself, you will be worn down in your mind and your body. You will constantly feel worn out.

Not practicing self-care can lead to depression, anxiety, anger, and physical illness. You cannot pour anything into others from an empty cup. Self-care is essential to filling your own cup.

To have a cup to pour from you must fill yours first. It is not selfish, it is self love. And self love is always the right thing to do.

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. ~ Buddha

Until next time,
Deborah

How To Love Yourself More

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For many of us, so much of our time is spent in things we do not love about ourselves. Things we think are true about us. Things we think others think are true about us. The way others make us feel about ourselves through words or actions or the lack of them.

It becomes so much easier to live in the world of what we do not love about ourselves that it becomes automatic.

Contrary to what we may believe, there are things we like about ourselves and even things we love. We just have to ask our brains the question. What do I love about myself?

It may take some time for the brain to go through all the data in our minds and sift through what we do not love to find the things that we do, but it will find them. The brain hates questions and loves answers.

Before writing this piece, I asked myself the same question in an activity with clients this past week. I found that it was very hard at first to come up with things I love about myself, and I also found that quite shocking. I thought it would be much easier than it turned out to be.

At first, there were just a few things that came to mind quickly. But over the course of the week that I worked on this with clients, my brain found more and more things and presented them to me. Sometimes in sessions and sometimes randomly. But my brain did find them and it will also find yours.

Some of mine were my organization, my determination, my artistic side, my objectivity, my eyes, and on and on it went. My brain is still finding answers to the question and as long as I continue to ask the question it will continue to look.

It can be very helpful to write these things down and then use the things you have written down as affirmations. Placing the list where you can see it daily and reminding yourself of the things you love about you. Repeating them throughout the day. You then create new automatic thoughts of self-love.

Find some time to try it out and teach yourself how you can remind your mind about the things you already love about yourself. They are in there.

Love yourself and the rest will follow.

Reduce Holiday Stress With Self-Care

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Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

Self care is one of the most important things you can do to take care of yourself. It can also be one of the most difficult for many people.

The great majority of people it seems are consumed with taking care of others. Making sure that other people are happy. Allowing people to treat them in any way they want in order to make sure the other person is happy. They don’t want to rock the boat and make someone upset, so they go along to get along.

Peoplw who have suffered trauma of any kind are even more likely to do for others instead of themselves. These people many times do not feel they deserve or are worthy of care or that they should take care of themselves instead of others.

We all deserve to love ourselves and take care of us. The things we do to take care of ourselves do not have to be big things. Having time to ourselves. Enjoying a cup of coffee or tea. Getting a massage or a new hair cut. Writing or keeping a journal. Taking a nap. Taking a walk. The list is endless.

It is also okay to say no to other people. No to doing things you don’t want to or don’t feel up to. No to things that make you uncomfortable or feel under valued. No to things that damage your mental health. In truth, you can say no about anything. If you can get past the need to please or pacify others and accept that it is okay to do what you need, what you want, what helps you love yourself.

Everyone needs self care. Including counselors. It can be very hard for counselors to feel okay about taking time off and taking care of themselves. But it is important for them and for their clients.

The holidays can be stressful for many reasons, but not practicing your own self care doesn’t have to be one of them. Take time for yourself this holiday season to refresh and renew your own spirit, so you can feel up to giving the Christmas spirit to others.

Until next time,
Deborah

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I Love Me

Over the last week with Valentine’s Day included I worked on an art therapy project with most all of my clients entitled I Love Me. Valentine’s is generally about someone else loving us or that we are loving someone else. It is almost never about loving ourselves.

In fact, loving ourselves isn’t something many of us do with any regularity. We are very good at not loving ourselves. When we look in the mirror, we almost always find faults with ourselves. Things we do not love about ourselves. In our automatic thoughts, we are generally focused on the negative about ourselves. We think that these thoughts are our own but they all start somewhere else. Let me repeat that, all negative thoughts we have about ourselves start somewhere else. They come from what others say or don’t say, what others do or don’t do, what social media provides, etc. Not one of them originated in our own minds…not one. But these are what we think about, not loving ourselves.

When I came up with this project I thought it would be easy to think of six things I loved about myself. It was not easy. In fact, it took several days. The rules were that it couldn’t be something someone else has said they love about it and it couldn’t be something I think in relation to others. It had to be exclusively, only about me loving me. Not an easy thing to do. But eventually I did it.

Working through the week with clients I found that most had similar difficulty coming up with their own six things. Some had trouble coming up with even a single thing. So ingrained are the things we think we don’t love about ourselves that seeing anything we do love is almost impossible sometimes. We even weigh the things we do come up with against our ingrained lies. As if we do not deserve to love ourselves for anything. Another lie.

As the week went on and after several clients, I found that the pathway I had opened to things I love about myself that more things then came to my mind. Once we allow our brains to move in a different direction, it will find more information along the way and bring it to our attention. Once we push aside the negative and the lies, we discover that there is truth to be discovered if we can only allow ourselves to see it and then to accept it.

What do you love about yourself? Is it difficult to find? Do you have to have a discussion with yourself against the negative and the lies to feel that you can love anything about yourself? I know it can be difficult because we don’t get up in the morning and look in the mirror and say to ourselves, “I love this about me or that about me.” But we should.

Take a few minutes after reading this and truly think about the things you love about you. Do you love your sense of humor, your courage, your creativity, your determination, or any number of other things about you? Write them down, put them where you can see them daily, repeat them to yourself, and add to them as more of them come to your mind. Say to yourself daily, I Love Me.

Until next time,
Deborah Horton

I am currently accepting new clients (girls and women) for counseling. Call 406-413-9904 or email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com to set up a FREE initial consultation appointment.