Continuing on to #17 on the 25 obvious and non obvious
17. Biggest problem I have is remembering that I need to give myself more attention and love. Rather than continuously giving it all to others.
This is Judy’s perspective. I really like it but it is not my perspective so you get different views of the same concept. https://theprojectbyjudy.wordpress.com/2017/12/05/self-care-17-of-25/
I approached this differently. Struggling back to health I outlined a program of 7 simple changes. One of the things I did was include service as part of my self care. It feels good for me to give service. While I was sick, I learned that giving service to my family and myself counted as service. Also helped me that my husband had healthier boundaries than I did and he made it clear early on in our marriage that if I wouldn’t do something for our own family than I shouldn’t be doing it for someone else. So for me, service to others is part of what I do to feel good therefore I do it for me. In fact, I learned to recognize that somethings I did for other people they didn’t need done. I check in with myself if I am doing something because the other person needs it or because I need to feel helpful. Well before counseling I was working on balancing doing things for others and taking care of myself. I just didn’t know what taking care of myself looked like. I still struggle with allowing myself to go to the bathroom when I need to or choosing healthy meals because without healthy fuel my body can’t keep going.
I learned in a lesson years and years ago that you can’t pour water from and empty vessel. My daughter found an interesting book called “How Full is Your Bucket?” https://www.amazon.com/How-Full-Your-Bucket-Rath/dp/1595620036/ I read it cover to cover and other books along the similar idea. So this particular issue is one that is on the long term project list. Just last week DH pointed out that I willing did things for someone else that I won’t do for myself. I am working on changing that. I actually bought fabric and cut out a skirt for myself. After orchestrating over 200 costume pieces, making on outfit for myself seems like an appropriate reward. But I do know from experience that more than one occasion I put all my effort into staying at work, then when I come home my body completely collapses and I can’t do anything for myself or anyone else. (Back to the Spoons issue https://ptsd-acceptingcopingthriving.com/2018/01/28/multifaceted-challenge/) Since helping others is part of how I refill my bucket I look at this as more of a balancing challenge.
One of thing things I learned in counseling is evaluating what I do for others if it was something I would willing do for myself. My therapist was the one that taught me to recognize when I needed something and to experiment with the fact that people will actually often give me what I ask for if the request is reasonable. The first step I struggled was know what I wanted or needed. (He had me watch Runaway Bride and how the main character struggled knowing what she liked rather than mirroring what each of her fiances did.) I programed myself to only ask for and want what I was told I would need. My counselor was highly amused putting me through my paces to be able to say, “I want….________________” Hard stuff asking for things for myself. He watched me struggle with the idea that at a restaurant I could ask for bread sticks and get them. My counselor pointed the store gave anyone extra bread sticks. I followed up with, “I actually asked for them.” He was floored that something as simple as asking for something and getting it had me so delighted. Took several sessions to explain that my childhood experience that asking for what I wanted usually earned me a lecture, including asking to go to the bathroom. (The humiliation of asking the teacher if I can go to the bathroom and the lecture of having to say May I go to the bathroom.)
Service to me is part of my self care because I feel happier giving service. The things I watch for is my motivation. Am I doing it from a fear based, if I don’t do this they won’t love me or love based, I love helping people and this is what I love doing. I try to make sure I am always giving service from a place of loving the other person and not doing so much for someone else that my own needs aren’t met. It is an interesting problem for me but not my biggest. For me by biggest issue was knowing I had the right to have my needs met. Treated like a 3rd class citizen in my growing up years made it difficult to think of myself as deserving to be a 1st class citizen as an adult. My counselor delighted in showing how I was a person of worth and deserved to be treated that way. He taught me by example. He consistently praised me on my efforts to change and consistently praised me when I thought I was failing. He consistently praised me real compliments that were things I was improving on. His attitude helped me change how I viewed myself. I am thankful he cared he enough to go beyond what he usually did for clients. (Most clients only worked with him one to two years. I worked 7 years with him.) Learning to value myself was the first giant step to loving myself.