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.

Fear of Being Alone

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One of the things that comes up again and again when working with people is the fear of being alone. In many of these instances this fear can be traced back to childhood trauma with chaotic family dynamics and lack of self worth and feeling loved. As the child grows they continually seek out this self worth and love from both the family, who may or may not be able to provide that, and from relationships with others. And because people find themselves in damaged places emotionally they can often make poor choices in those relationships.

In these relationships people often gravitate towards partners who are emotionally unattached in some ways. Someone who really doesn’t show that they need them or want them. Someone who doesn’t want or accept any children they may have. Someone who can easily let them go or cheat on them. It provides a kind of constant chase or work to get these people to be invested in them much like they would have had to do with family who wasn’t emotionally invested in them. The other kind of relationship people who fear being alone gravitate to is one where the other person is extremely controlling and seemingly very invested in them. If the partner is constantly questioning what someone is doing, where they are going, who they are with, wanting them to be with them 24/7 then the person who feels alone will think they are getting all the attention (love) from their partner when it is actually abuse.

Once people become involved in these kinds of relationships, they may also have a tendency to excuse bad behaviors of their partners to hold on to the relationships. This is usually also a learned behavior from childhood trauma. Excusing family for bad behaviors so that the family might still love them and see them as valuable by their defense of them. Also, in order to try and hold on to those damaged family relationships people try to avoid conflict at all costs even accepting physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse in order not to lose this relationship. This translates to older relationships and the same patterns occur over and over.

Another byproduct of the fear of being alone is holding on to past relationships in order to have a back up if the current relationship ends. Because many people who fear being alone have no self worth or self esteem they feel they must have someone else to validate that in them even if it is negative validation, it is still someone whose attention is on them. Something they did not get in their childhood traumas and family relationship chaos. These past relationships become the fall back even if they are abusive, it is still someone to pay attention to them, someone for them to chase, someone to provide them with a false sense of self worth.

So, how does one avoid falling into these relationship patterns and fighting this fear of being alone. There is only one way – working through, processing, and accepting the childhood trauma so that there can be understanding of the choices they are now making in their relationships and to work on building their own self worth, self esteem, self love.

It is not an easy path to change. The fear of being alone and the childhood trauma have been a part of their lives for a very long time, years, and it has become an automatic behavior. It can take a very long time to rework and replace those thought and feelings and build a new way of thinking and feeling. It takes a lot to create a life for yourself that you do not need another person to make it okay for you.

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.

Be Proud Of Yourself

As humans, we are so very quick to criticize ourselves, have less faith in ourselves, create negative beliefs about ourselves. We are even more quick to allow others to criticize us, lose faith in us, say negative things about us. The negative is easy. It’s like slipping into a stretched out pair of old sweatpants – it’s easy. We become comfortable there. We believe it is who we are and what we deserve no matter what good things we are doing, believing, creating.

If we spent even one tenth of the time that we spend on putting on the negative on the positive things about ourselves our lives would look completely different. We would be amazed at the positiveness of our lives, of our minds, of our spirits. When we focus on the negative our focus becomes negative. It prevents us from recognizing the positive in ourselves and in others. What we slip into is what we become.

For just one moment, think of one positive thing about yourself. It can be anything. A part of your personality, something you are good at, anything you do well, choices you have made, anything that is even minimally positive, anything that creates even minimal steps forward, anything that makes you smile and feel good about yourself.

Every time you do something make a positive choice, that you choose to be kind, that you accomplish anything and anything can be as simple as getting out of bed, when you think something positive instead of negative, when you feel good about anything you do or anything you don’t do. If you do something well at school or at your job be proud. If you choose to get up and get dressed be proud. If you choose forgiveness over anger be proud. If you choose to be positive instead of negative be proud.

Acknowledge yourself. Pay attention to your positive self. Notice each individual good no matter how small. Allow yourself to be proud of you. It is okay to be proud of yourself. In fact, it is necessary for a positive life. If you are always waiting, looking, expecting to find someone else to be proud of you until you can feel proud and happy you need to stop and look at yourself.

Be proud of yourself – not just in the big things – but in everything.

Until next time,
Deborah

I am now accepting new clients (girls and women) for counseling. If you would like to make an appointment for a FREE initial consultation call 406-413-9904 email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com or click the Book Now button on Facebook