God and being a Friend to Yourself – A Reference of Blog Posts

English: Givers at Downtown Alive, Lafayette, ...

English: Givers at Downtown Alive, Lafayette, Louisiana  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Reference of Blog Posts:

Set Your Self-Care And Moral Jailer Free.

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Self Care

Image by Mskadu via Flickr

Self-Care Tip – Set your self-care free.  Be a friend to yourself.

Self-care just is.

The problem about saying self-care starts and ends with Me is that people forget about the journey it travels between here and there.  People become fearful that it means alone-care, apart-from-God-care, selfish-care, and so on.

When we take care of “Me,” we can connect more with others, including God, have more inside of us to give to others, and have more interest in the world around.  The opposite disables our abilities to do those things.  Again we say, “Can’t give what we don’t have.”

God gave us this person, “Me,” to take care of.  He considers “Me” valuable and of high priority.  He celebrates with me and cheers me on.  He stands beside me and He doesn’t see self-care as having exclusionary implications to anyone else.

Please, shake it off.  Self-care is no more of a moral issue than anything else.  It just is.  It is a choice, a freedom, an opportunity.  It is as much about salvation as any other act of good or bad, and has no influence on our worth.  It just is.

Lord, What must I do to be saved?

– Paul’s Jailer.  Me.  Could be you.

Questions:  How do you speak to the stigma in your church, community or self toward being a friend to yourself?  How do you get to Me, despite the pressure to pay-up to all the others around you in emotional and physical energy first?  How is your relationship with God when you are friendly with yourself?  Please tell me your story.

I Am A Poster Child For Sinners

IMG_4706 Leather pants

I am a poster child for sinners.

Sitting with a respected mentor, a leader of women in medicine, I couldn’t stop myself as usual from playing with the ideas of being a friend to yourself.  She caught on quick with where I was going and I felt wishes winging in.

I wished I could have practiced with her, have had her for a peer, a voice in the room that gets me, a mind that might even have resonated and crescendoed the healing process that comes from being a friend to Me.

Oh that guy is as stiff as they come!  She knew.

He always made me feel like I was a poster child for sinners.  …And I knew I loved her.  It wasn’t just me.

Sometimes, remembering that “it’s not just me” seems like reciting folklore.  The longer that Time clutters up between real encounters with like-minded folk, the more magical the thoughts brew of being chosen to suffer, I am alone and I am special for what hurts me.   However, perhaps a good this or that can come out of even things such as these (insert, “human connection.”)  Is that so much to ask?  Do I really have to sacrifice a chicken on a full moon over whitened unicorn bones to make it happen?

In becoming a Friend to Yourself, we know there are many times when living with not much more than our better choices for company is almost more than that stringy thin young muscle of self-care can sustain.  But know this.  Just when you think you might collapse, the Truth that “you are not alone” will wing in.  More than a wish or a perception of reality, “you are not alone” is Truth.  Something great comes to us, like,

I am a poster child for sinners.  

Stigma comes from ignorance after all and in being a friend to Me, well, our community has undeveloped awareness about it.  Some who don’t know that everything starts and ends with Me feel threatened, angry and even verbally aggressive toward us.  But, just when we think that the whole world is touched with ignorance and cruel responses except for Me, we find Thee.  (Yet another variation on the  quote by a Yorkshireman –  “Everyone in the world is quite mad, except for me and thee.  And sometimes I have my doubts about thee.”.)  Me finds Thee, just in time.

Suddenly we see ourselves for the stud-muffins that we are, courageous and in company.  Leather pants may be included if you like.

Self-Care Tip – Remember the Truth – you are not alone, even in being a friend to yourself.  Keep on.

Questions:  How’s your company these days?  Do people ever treat you like you are a wrong-doer for loving yourself?  How does that go over?  Please tell us your story.

Be Friendly Enough With Yourself To Acknowledge the Gift In Your Suffering

Strange Lady

Image by bending light via Flickr

Pain. There are so many of us suffering from pain that sometimes it is as if nobody escapes. Even so, in the contorting agony that pain brings, we have a very hard time thinking outside of ourselves at all. We are preoccupied with ourselves. We do not think about the others hurting or others in general at all. Pain does that – emotional and/or physical.

Penelope was preoccupied too. She had suffered and was suffering still. Peeling her thoughts away from survival during those times when, with teeth and muscles clenched, her body felt like a universe unto itself. Everyone outside of her were aliens she was able to visit occasionally. Watching her and hearing her describe how it molded her current person, I remembered the book by Paul Brand, Pain: the Gift Nobody Wants. (We mentioned this book before in our blog-post, “Emotions: The Physical Gift We Can Name.”)

When we are sick with Pain Syndrome, with symptoms seen in our emotions, behaviors and nerve language, it is hard to perceive what good can come out of bad. Saying, when we are in that ditch, that the sun is happily shining overhead is rude and boring. Especially when it is rhetoric. Change that rhetoric to insight, well that would then be worth friendly and interesting. That would be hope. There comes a degree of knowledge that hasn’t reached our sensory selves yet but sits in our intellect. We have a glimpse of the ark of the covenant, a promise, nearly prophesy in fact – we have a knowing that something good can come out of this.

This is why I thought of the work of Paul Brand, M.D. with the lepers. I thought that Penelope might want to know that there is something good that could come out of her bad if she were healthy in other ways, enough to receive it. If her senses could perceive it, her emotions, sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell could take in that information and deliver enough of it uninterrupted, what was promised to her would come true; past the pain that distracts and preoccupies.

It is as if this good that comes out of bad were like a runner in a war zone. Bombs are exploding. It is noisy even though hearing was taken out after the last gun fire. Dirt and sweat drip over eyes and into mouths and no one believes they will survive. And then the runner trips into our shelter and collapses still alive; still holding the message in his hand. Something good made it across a land in havoc and war and we know about it now.

I thought of Paul Brand, M.D., telling Penelope that her pain is her gift at that point of knowing, with that timing. Better than I could. She wouldn’t laugh angrily and give him a bad review on-line. She would hear him. “Something good is coming your way. You have hope.” In my imagination, Penelope would not hear Dr. Brand moralizing her experience – “You are good if you perceive your gift and you are bad if you don’t.” In my fantasy, Penelope would understand that this offering wasn’t intended to make her feel guilty for hurting. It was an offering of hope.

Not so easy to do, as it turns out, in real life. I am a very human psychiatrist without

much magic about me very often. But if I did…

Question: How do you give yourself hope when your senses don’t perceive it? How are you your own friend when you are preoccupied and distracted from that which is friendly? Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip – Be friendly enough with yourself to believe that there is something good that will come out of your bad. There is hope.

Eight hugs a Day

Evening friends.  Spent the afternoon enjoying the company of friends and family.  Including enjoying a lecture from the “love doctor,” Paul Zak PhD.  Dr. Zak gave us a practice run on his upcoming lecture for TED in Scotland.  He told us about the amazing hormone, oxytocin, which Dr. Zak tells us is the morality hormone.  It increases any time we have increased social connection.  Oxytocin makes people trust, empathize and have increased moral behaviors.  Dr. Zak’s prescription is eight hugs a day (hugs increase oxytocin).  Awesome.

Self-Care Is Not A Moral Issue

Facial emotions.

Image via Wikipedia

I am writing a series of blog-posts outlining self-care in which we examine the tenets of self-care:

Self-Care Tip #263 – Experience, use, observe and interpret emotions, but don’t moralize them.

We sometimes forget about the involved journey to a healthy Me.  Because of this, we become fearful that it means alone-care, apart-from-God-care, selfish-care, excluding experienced-and-professional-input-care and so on.  It’s not.  Self-care is collaborative, yet that doesn’t negate the fact that it must start and end with Me.

When we take care of “Me,” we can connect more with others, including God, have more inside of us to give to others, and have more interest in the world around.  The opposite disables our abilities to do those things.  No one can give what she doesn’t have.

We have this person, “Me,” to take care of.  This “Me” is valuable, of high priority, to be celebrated and cheered on.

Please, shake it off.  Self-care is not a moral issue.  It just is.  It is a choice, a freedom and an opportunity.  It is not about salvation and has no influence on our worth.  It just is.

We are more willing to buy into the, “It just is,” self-care tool when we understand where emotions and behaviors come from – the brain. This biological stance is the evidence for deescalating our drive to moralize emotions and behaviors.  They are not from an aura, a gear we can shift, or any nidus of control outside of our human bodies.  Emotions are how we interpret the world around us.  They are not linked to morality.  Please don’t take them to the pulpit.  If you do, I will still be polite, although breathing through a mask.

Emotions are our interpretive lens for our physical self.

Questions:  How’s the clarity of your lens holding out after considering this part of self-care?  What influence does what you “see” with your emotions have on your ability to befriend yourself?  Please tell me your story.

Moralizing Behaviors and Emotions

Statesmen No.34: Caricature of Mr AS Ayrton MP...

Image via Wikipedia

Self-Care Tip #233 – Stop moralizing behaviors and emotions to be a real friend to yourself.

Responses to yesterday’s blog-post, I believe, revealed my point in time position in moralizing behaviors.  It is no excuse, but yesterday for reasons of my own limited perspective, personalizing behaviors, perceived judgment from myself and others, and cultural biases including some good old-fashioned well-intentioned holy roller atmosphere, I hooned in on that darned word selfish.

That word, selfish, reminds me of any class bully who hurts others but maybe not for the reasons assigned by observers.  It is more than that though.  Inherent to its own definition, morality is more than implied.  In efforts to destigmatize it, evolutionaries, such as George C. Williams, coined the term, “the selfish gene.”  We as well, in efforts to peel it off of us “self-carers” here at FriendtoYourself.com, have discussed some of the biopsychosocial reasons for behaving in ways that disregard the needs of others.  We have talked about freedom to choose and losing abilities to choose.  Because we believe in magic, or miracles, or yet unexplained science – however each of us prefers to describe the unknown – we claim some awareness that we still haven’t yet given over fair perspective, despite our intentions.

The wonderful, ever articulate, gentle writer, reader and commenter, Cindy Taylor, reminded me of this yesterday, saying simply,

I found that taking an adrenal supplement has improved my sleeping patterns greatly.

What a girl!  That one and only Cin.

Yet yesterday, somehow, I didn’t say much about those things.

Questions:  What does “selfish” mean to you?  Why and how do you extricate yourself and others from it even though they appear to be just that – selfish?  Please tell me your story.