Owning Our Choices Is Self-Care Even When It Feels Painful To Do

Repost.Take that for a grimace

Self-Care Tip – Own your choices, even when they feel painful.

She was leaving after twenty-two years of marriage.  Eva married young and says that about one or two of those years were pleasant.  The rest of the time she disappeared in her service to her husband’s ever-growing list of needs.  Although he was employed, she considered him otherwise disabled by choice and mental illness.  It was the choice angle that hankered  to bleeding in her and she wasn’t going to tolerate it any longer.  Or maybe she would.  Stay, leave, stay leave.  She’d been straddling those for several years although she didn’t realize it until recently.  And that’s when she told him she was done.  But was she?  …They both decided to give it one last try.

How many of us have sabotaged ourselves like this.  The sabotage hides in the bit that says things like,

I’m sorry, but….


I have to do these things!  If I didn’t he couldn’t function!”

We are naturally self-preserving and it’s not a moral issue when we try to defend ourselves.  It just happens.  However, we are misperceiving what is in our best interest.  We misperceive what is self-reserving.  We misperceive what we need to defend ourselves against.

The self-sabotage Eva was doing came out more clearly when I echoed her, asking if she had chosen to give her marriage one last try.

You’d think the answer would be as easy as, “yes” or, “no.”  But in Eva’s marriage, she was using points of action, outside of herself, to explain her emotions and behaviors.  Eva had the gift of freedom right in front of her, wrapped and unopened.  Her freedom was hers however, whether she chose to take it or not.  Eva’s freedom to self-care is one of the natural laws.  It doesn’t change with her perception of what is real.

I am, but I’m not sure about him!  We’ll see!

I asked her if she heard the barely hidden way she was justifying her current limited engagement in their “last try.”  The “but” behind her emotions and behaviors was sabotaging her friendliness towards herself.  She was stuck, because of it, in her victim role.  This decision to stay or leave was not evidently her choice but rather the choice of her husband, she was saying.

We talked some more about this and when I asked her if it made sense to her, this freedom of owning her choices fully, she slowly and quietly said,

It does, but I’m not sure if I’m willing to do that.

When thinking about Eva’s self-sabotage, it’s reflexive to say that it was because of her ambivalence (i.e. two strongly felt opposing forces.)  Ambivalence may not be helping, but the real damage to herself is done with her victim role.  She is free to choose or not to.

I’m hoping that this discussion will also hanker in her – put up a little fight for space against the other hankering bleeds she’s got flowing.  We’ll go at it again when or if she comes back in to see me.

Questions:  What was it like for you when you started owning choices (any) that felt painful?  How do you see this as self-care?  Please tell me your story.

11 thoughts on “Owning Our Choices Is Self-Care Even When It Feels Painful To Do

  1. The martyr syndrome. Cultural to Latins. Owning my problems is easy once I understand, but owning the problems of others, even intimates, needs liberation training for the said afflicted.


  2. My sister has never understood my emotional breakdown and the reasons for it. After all, they were her parents, too. So making the decision last year not to spend what has become an annual several days in October with both of my sisters was incredibly difficult. I understand where they are coming from but the constant need, by one of them especially, to bring up my pain kept backing up my healing process. Owning my own self-care and bowing out of the weekend was, for me, a necessary survival thing…at least eight years later than it should have been. It makes me sad that I had to do that. It makes me sadder that I had to do it because I don’t seem to be able to handle the stress. But, then again, was bowing out finally me handling the stress? And what about next year? Like Carl, I find that it’s owning the problems of others that is the difficult part.


  3. Owning our choices is one of the most difficult and life affirming actions we can take. It allows us to move on and move ahead (yes, I think there’s a distinct difference between the two.).


  4. I love that concept: Owning Choices. I learned that at an early age.. Sometimes it is hard to do, but when you do, it is soo healthy feeling even if those choices were wrong.. those were the teachable lessons of choices. I wish every one could grab a hold of this!


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  6. Another thought. I have self sabotaged I think because I have not fully gone beyond my “not OK child” With mother I was always the bad boy so now in adulthood I make unreasonable or detrimental choices so that I will continue to be punished. And feel miserable. I own my choices but think I was programmed to so act and continue to learn how to not let that not be a dynamic from which I operate.


    • carl, these r tough thoughts to have. i hear your proposal that your behaviors came from adjustment issues. i would add that your temperament plays a big role and some of what u describe as detrimental choices might not b as horrible as u think. i don’t know the specifics of course and this is just a poke in the forest wall, so forgive me. what is most important to me though, is that u describe feeling “miserable.” i’m standing w u, old bear. hugs


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