How Your Indulgence Improves Your Friendship With Yourself

Ann Morgan Guilbert as Grandma Yetta.

Image via Wikipedia

I remembered my grandma’s hair today.  She had this little vanity.  Used to roll it up at night and put her net over.  In the morning she was careful about it.

She had good hair.  In her 80′s it was still pretty full and it was white.  Really white like forgiveness.  Something about it carried a message.  “Here is a woman who has beauty.”

When my grandfather died, I am told that there were men who wanted to marry her.  Men with farms, a business or something to offer.  Grandma, when she thought the time was right, would introduce them to her four sons.  Big sons, with big bones and the quietness from working in the inconsiderate conditions of nature and element.  Sons who had a father once but lost him, like a ring that slips off your finger in the water without you knowing it was gone.  Worse than that.

It’s important to have a message when you live under working conditions, where horrors happen.  A little sister burns to death in front of you.  Your finger gets twisted off in a washing machine like a bottle cap.  You canned.  Canning was never a hobby for Grandma but I never had the sense that she disliked it.

What made Grandma’s hair stand out so for me and my brothers was that it was her indulgence.  Why an old woman with no teeth, in a wooden farm-house sleeping next to a man she didn’t marry for love, (although she loved him), would roll her hair every night as if she was going to have family pictures in the morning – just has to make you smile.

She used to leave her dentures in a cup of water by her bed and her mouth would leak a little when they weren’t in.  How good her kisses were.  I’m glad I didn’t know to think they were gross.  Even when Grandma got really old, smelled like medicine and her rotting insides, I didn’t think so.

Mom would go in and roll Grandma’s hair for her because her fingers turned at odd angles.  She couldn’t do her hair and she couldn’t play piano.   Later, when moved into a nursing facility, there was a beauty contest.  My mom found out about it and enrolled my grandma without her knowing.  She told Mom afterward that she won because of her hair.  I had never heard Grandma talk about her hair like that, even though the rest of us had, and my brother’s and I laughed until we cried.  And then we cried some more.

Question:  What is your indulgence?  What is the message in it from your secret self out to the world? What does it bring to your ability to be your own friend.  Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Tip – Celebrate your indulgence, acknowledge its message about you and see what it brings to your ability to be your own friend.

Premises of being a “Friend to Yourself”

English: Object of perception in psychology

This is the skeleton of what we reviewed over three days of 1-2 hour workshop sessions (which ended last week.)  We named these the unchanging premises of being a friend to yourself.

 Everything starts and ends with Me.

Freedom to choose is here.

 I can see Me using various paradigms such as the Jungian Typology and the biopsychosocial model.

These are tools, not boxes.

 Me is never alone.

 Essence.

Essence is the part of Me that is timeless and unchanging.

 Truth.

There is our perception of reality – from the wind to the whim.  Then there is Truth that like the other premises to self-care are not dependent on my beliefs, emotions or behaviors.

Questions:  What do you think of these premises?  Would you change anything?

Self-Care Tip – Know and name your premises to befriending yourself.

Workshops Anyone? I’m goin’ a’travelin.

We’ve just concluding another workshop on becoming a friend to yourself.

We rocked this.  Everyone was fully present with their whole person, eager for growth, interesting and interested and left wanting more.  Me included, of course.  :)

So… if anyone else wants a two-hour one day workshop during these dates in these locations, please let me know for year, 2012.

Orange County, CA – May 4, 5, 6

Tennessee – May 25-30

San Francisco, CA – July 26-30

Des Moines, IA – August 9-15

 

* In truth, I’m happy to offer workshop services to you and yours mostly anywhere within Southern California.  Keep on.

When To See A Psychiatrist

Singer Brandy Norwood in September 16, 2010.

Even car accidents happen for “good reasons!”

Wanda didn’t want to hear the reasons.

Anything could sound like a good reason for bad performance.  It is what it is.  Just own it!

And Wanda was out.  And just as quickly as she concluded, I flashed back to the quivering resident who messed up on internal medicine rounds.  I stood there with my spine like a steel rod.  My white coat felt heavier with my fair-weather reference books bulging in my pockets.

Keep your chin up and look at her!  I told myself.

This wasn’t the first time for me, so I had the “luxury” of practicing a previous well-described lesson from my attending on how to respond to feedback.  Those days seemed like a series of stings, burns and frost-bite, but I am grateful for that at least – the knowledge of how I’m supposed to “take it.”

Wanda came back into my mind’s focus as memories of internship faded.  Wanda wasn’t even mad at me.  She was telling me this story as an example of her difficulty coping with anger.  Here she was asking for help while justifying her position.  Don’t we all, though?

I saw the irony in her criticism of those who gave reasons for their foibles as compared to her own explanation for anger and medical care.  Yet again, aren’t we all inconsistent like this?  Wanda is not alone.  She even had good insight too.  Explaining away our mistakes is shabby, lacks class and is insincere.

Some time ago in a post, Please Don’t Say “But”, we talked about this, which later we termed “presence.”  But why see a psychiatrist about these things?  Because insight is only worth so much.  If the mechanics to respond to the insight aren’t well, then you’ll be able to withdraw from your self just that.  In Wanda’s case, it was spitting anger, hot to the touch and not much safe.  It had quite an effect on her interpersonal relationships and quality of life.

But Wanda was suffering in more than her apparent psychological and sociological selves.  She was also suffering in her biological self.  (See biopsychosocial model.)  Wanda, was ill.

When we find that we can’t do what we want, don’t respond the way we intend, have negative emotions and behaviors we didn’t invite, see the associated deterioration in our connections and quality of life – when we are suffering, we need to look for help.  It’s hard to be productive and survive without support.  Any bit of nature will tell you that.  Ask a peach tree if you don’t believe me.

Question:  Does it make sense to you that emotions and behaviors might be all we have to show us that we are medically ill?  If not, please tell us why.

Self-Care Tip:  When insight isn’t enough, consider a medical consult.  Be a friend to yourself.

Real reasons

Question: What are the real reasons you chose to be a friend to yourself in the first place?

Self-Care Tip: Remember why.

Self-Care Workshop Notes, by An Attendee

Sharon Profile

Image via Wikipedia

We have been meeting Thursdays, as you know, for our workshop.  Every meeting takes me by surprise by how well it goes, which may be a bad sign but that’s just how my nerves go – setting me up for some denuding catastrophe.  I don’t think Billy Graham or Martin Luther King had that problem.  Even so, pressing forward, I and the rest of the group have done the hard work to get ourselves there – and the inherent energy and brilliance natural to being good to oneself did the rest.

One of the attendees spoke for a couple minutes and I thought you might want to know what her prompt notes looked like.  This woman is one of the courageous.  She has been victimized horribly but she is not a victim.  She has chosen freedom.

I WAS ASKED WHAT IT MEANS TO ME TO BE A FRIEND TO MYSELF

  • Had no idea 
  • hadn’t thought about changes made in my life as if in doing them I was “being a friend to myself”
  • Only have learned what I need to do to stay emotionally healthy and balanced
  • Some of these things cannot be compromised and yes, I do catch flak occasionally, but as I stand my ground it becomes less frequent
  1. Friday group with friends
  2. Aftercare group once a month
  3. Meds (acceptance, cooperation with dr)
  4. Saying “No”
  5. Responsible for only me
  6. Reaching out (for myself and for others)/ Connecting
  7. Recognizing when I need help
  8. Faith (new)
  9. Setting boundaries
  10. Therapy as necessary

Starts and Ends with Me

  1. Don’t give power over myself to anyone else
  2. Always have a choice, yes or no, but consequences go along with each choice

Awareness of situations and circumstances that are unfriendly to me

  1. Drama: the friendly action => minimize exposure
  2. Confrontation:  When it came to Tall Poppies, I wanted to rip out at roots and crush into ground; 
    1. can’t allow myself to get to that point; 
    2. wait until not angry or just let it go; 
    3. use insight to figure out other person’s angle or underlying issue

My employment:

  • loved it
  • my identity
  • first priority in life
  • many years of discussions about it killing me and need to give it up but wouldn’t at any cost
  • after truck crash, priorities changed
  • few more years passed and realized time to give it up
  • still miss it very much but cost to my overall well-being is too high
Questions:  Since becoming a better friend to yourself, what has changed in your life?  What does it mean to be your own friend?  Please tell us your story.
Self-Care Tip:  Take inventory on what you have done for yourself differently when you were being friendly.  

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Calibrate the forces in your life

Calibration

Calibration (Photo credit: Kyle McDonald)

I’ve taken this week off, mostly at least. Besides a couple half-days, I’m living the non-income life, otherwise known as “vacation.” In any sort of self-employment, that’s what vacation is – a carefully calibrated force with another opposing, calibrated to keep me from mutating. All for the price of income.

It was getting close there, and just in time, after the significance of making wrong change and missing signatures finally broke through, I found myself here. Vacation. #gratitude.

But what does one do, “relaxing?”

Yesterday, someone asked what Adam and Eve did before the fall. I loved that question. What did they do all day? Reminded me about my thought-thumbing through what a heaven or eternity would be like. Where’s the delicious tension from living this way, dynamic and traveling persons? I’m very interested to know what will keep my attention for eternity.

Anyhow, vacation is like what one patient described as counting the days, either with anxiety or happy anticipation, of when you will be going back to work. I would say that it’s an exercise in calibrating the forces in ones life, before she mutates.

I remember as a little girl, with tangled hair in my eyes and muddied toes, hearing, “At the end of someone’s life, no one ever says they wished they worked more.” It scared me. I sensed the intent behind these words to threaten whoever was out there working and not spending time with their family. I was scared for them and at the same time for myself. This has replayed many times in my mind since then, in shifting sounds and shapes as my thoughts took on the years and experience of what family time offers/takes verses work time. And then finally one day, I said to my sister, “When I’m in the dying stage, I don’t think I will agree with that. I can’t imagine ever not wanting to work more.”

When one gets to do something as fun as work in psychiatry, with heroes and see magic and watch what all that does to their own person in a process no less than what a dreamers canvas would display – they don’t ask for less. They will always want more, and so will I. This is not a qualifying statement of how much of my family I want in my life at all. One of the major problems with the original scare is that it is based on assuming either-or, either work or family. That’s ignorant, same as my fear.

So tonight, after a pajama day cleaning out the toy room, kids and movie time, my flow was interrupted by thoughts of patients’ narratives and personalities, and I missed them. Vacation, against that, makes for a pretty relaxing time. #gratitude.

Self-Care Tip – Calibrate the forces in your life. Be a friend to yourself.

Questions: How do you relax? Do you enjoy your work? What will you still want more of when you are in the dying process? Please tell us your story.