Imagine If You Were Your Own Friend, And Take Your Advice

Postcard - Sexy Woman writing a letter

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Self-Care Tip #234 – Imagine if you were your own friend, and take your advice.

Joana Johnson, author of CreatingBrains.com, full-time mom of six, part-time University history teacher, student, wife, confidant, friend and sister-in-law… (no she’s not running for president) …Joana asked me today,

Write a letter to someone you love sharing what you want them to do to take better care of themselves.  You don’t have to give it to them or you can.

Now imagine what letter with what self-care requests would someone who loved you write to you?

…You’re right.  I’m going to have to talk her into running for president.

And so, I offer this challenge to you.  I wonder after you.  I am sitting in waiting.  Please tell us this part or more of your story.

Self-Care Is About More Than “Me”

Self-Care Tip #208 – If for no other reason, get friendly with yourself simply to survive and you’ll see what that means later.

my self care reminders

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It is not unusual to think of “selfish-care” when we hear “self-care.”  I can imagine children gripping their mother’s skirts more tightly, husbands pulling their helpmate’s hands away from this influence, church-folk sniffing over rejections to service-calls or friends personalizing the way their phone doesn’t ring as much as it used to.  This is a natural response, although it is a false perception.  Think – feeling suffocated by her penance, he’s wearing a martyr’s cross or she’s giving to us from victimhood.  Those are the times we would rather not receive the gifts of time, person or anything dripping with that kind of guilt and implied debt. This kind of service comes from someone impoverished, giving on credit.

I’ve been known to say, “We can’t give what we don’t have.”  Or as Jasmine said,

You can’t give someone a ride if you’re all out of gas!

So when is self-care selfish?  To be true to what self-care is, I’d say almost never.  However, because the question comes from such an intuitive fear in any of us, “never” can’t be an entirely fair answer.  To answer it best though, we need to turn it over and go back to trying to discover why we wanted self-care first.  What brought us here?  Jacqui said it well in yesterday’s post-comments:

Ditto about ‘self-care boot camp’. I may steal that one. You’ve given me permission to be selfish if need be. It’s all about self-preservation.

Sometimes we are reduced to self-preservation.  It has an intensity to it, a survival mode of live or die, which may be appropriate to a desperate condition in life.   Many of us know what that feels like.  So in this context, self-care is in part about survival.  Alright.  But is survival a selfish need?  Are we worth that little?  Does the life in us hold value only at that level?

rejuvenation.self.care.logo

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You hear the clomping my words are making and can follow that I answer, no.  Survival has far reaching significance.  I matter.  You matter.  We have value beyond our own selves and Me booting up to live better also ripples over those same infinite number of connections.

I am confident that if for no other reason than getting friendly with yourself simply to survive, you will still see at least some of what more that means later.  Self-care is about more than Me.

Question:  When do you think self-care is selfish?  Why do you think self-care is not?  Please tell me your story.

Tell People When You Fall

It's no laughing matter ladies... Monthly brea...

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Self-Care Tip #171 – Tell people when you fall.

Driving today, I was slowed by a driver ahead of me.  I started to get irritated, (I know, “I can’t control this“), but then I noticed the car had bumper stickers supporting breast cancer.  In less than a moment my mind grabbed memories of faces, feelings, conversations, stories and personal experiences in my memory relating to breast cancer and I suddenly felt a sense of empathy and some sadness.  It left me a bit surprised and I reminded myself I was irritated at this driver.  While trying to tease apart these seemingly opposing reactions, I realized I didn’t care much any more about the slowness.  Mainly I wondered how there was breast cancer connected and I cared.

Providentially, Erin posted today on her blog-site, Healthy, Unwealthy, and Becoming Wise,

Falling finds friends.

I remembered the driver and you readers and thought, “It sure does.  Especially when we let others know.

My Ecuadorian sister, Joana Johnson, often tells me one of the biggest contrasts she see’s between our cultures,

connection.

I spent some time in Ecuador doing some clinical work and learning more Spanish between my second and third year of medical school.  I was rarely alone, which frankly creeped me out a little.  Being westernized, I was used to a huge amount of independence and anonymity.  I wonder who I would be if I had grown up knowing someone was always involved in my life.

You might have heard the proverb asking,

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Or,

Water, water everywhere and nothing to drink.

I don’t want to be surrounded but not witnessed, connected or heard.

Telling people about our “falls,” cancer, depression, assault or what not, can feel creepy too, just like I felt loosing some of my anonymity in Ecuador.  However, I now tell myself, “It’s just culture and I can grow.  And I want to.”  Culturally in the “West,” we think of telling about our falls as whining.  That’s a misperception however and a disservice to all of us.  Telling people when we fall is not whining.  The act of telling and the act of whining aren’t contiguous unless we design them to be.

This morning when I saw those bumper stickers, it brought me into the drivers life and connected us.  We are both a little less alone than we were.  These last six months for me have been about taking down boundaries in my well defended life, and I am growing into the difference.  Thank you readers and commenters for that.

Questions:  What has telling others about your “falls” done for you?  How has your culture influenced you in finding friends?  Please tell me your story.

No Matter Why, Where, or What Happens, Self-Care Starts and Ends With Me

Cover of "To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Ann...

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Self-Care Tip #158 – No matter why, where or what happens, self-care still starts and ends with Me.

It’s no secret that I look at behavior through many paradigms.  Most of what I’ve shared on this blog is medical because I’m a physician.  That’s my specialty.  I’m not a physicist and don’t spend my posts on explaining how physics influences our behaviors – although I believe it does.  However, I don’t want you to think that I think behaviors and emotions exist within only the medical paradigm, even though that’s what you hear me talk mostly about.

According to Dr. Q, the roughly sketched breakdown of how stress intersects with medicine:

1.  Stress influences how we behave and feel. We “see” the stressors, and we see the emotional and behavioral responses, and we know their sources.  We know that emotions and behaviors are produced by a human.  Where else?  Anything magical or otherwise comes from Someone from another place.

2.  Stress influences our medical condition. Stress will awaken sleeping genes that carry the names of different diseases; cancer, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, and so on.  Would those genes have awakened on their own without the external trigger flipping the switch?  We don’t always know.

3.  Because there are so many factors that influence the reasons a disease process demonstrates itself, we cannot say that it is causally related to the stressors.  Many people try to do this, and sometimes the disease’s labeled cause comes down to the jury’s decision.  But we don’t have to have read, “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee to know that people’s opinions and judgments are biased.

4.  People try to find the reasons why.  This is natural and in my opinion appropriate.  However, where we look for the reasons for the feeling and behaviors is equally important.  Seeking accountability for how we feel and behave to come from outside of ourselves, to come from external reasons, to come from a source to fault is more often missing our chance to get friendly with ourselves.

“It just is,” as many say, and the 12-Steps would say “Surrender what is out of your control to your Higher Power.”  These are not inconsistent with owning that mental health begins and ends with Me.

Sure, there are the despicable situations of abuse, trauma, violence and other horrible biology changing events.  These are known to cause the one non-genetically related psychiatric disease process called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.)  These are situations consistent with our previous post on not being responsible for our history but being responsible for our futures.

5.  Stress, other than in situations of PTSD, is not causal for the progression of mental illness.  Everyone has stress, but how we deal with it, how we cope makes the difference.  Even horrible events, such as losing ones wealth and the sequelae of it are not causal for the continuance of brain disease.

6.  Medications, lifestyle change, Love and various other therapies effectively influences the way genes express themselves, our biology, and our medical condition….

7.  …In so doing, medications, lifestyle change, spirituality and various other therapies effectively influence our emotions and behaviors.

Question: How has your understanding of how stress intersects with with how you feel and behave affected you?  Please tell me your story.

Get Access to Information – Get a SmartPhone

 

Fast Company magazine cover: April 2010

Image by karen horton via Flickr

 

I read an inspiring blog today on SparkPeople titled, “Could Staying on Track be Addictive?”

SparkPeople is a great site that does what any other lifestyle change/weight loss website does and probably more – free!  I can’t say enough good things about it.  It’s one of those things that has given comparably to what it has taken.  I’m not crystal clear on this, but I think they profit from advertising and publications (The Spark.)

I appreciate the practicality of the phone app especially, which allows us to real-time journal our food.  We often can’t change our lifestyle if we don’t food-journal for at least a week or two to get an honest grip on things.  This ties our journal immediately into our SparkPeople.com member site and all its other benefits.  That is one reason that I like this food-journal phone app better than others.  It has continuity.

How much do many of us spend on weight loss efforts?  Let’s say we simply subscribe to a different on-line weight-loss program such as e-diets.  This plan starts out at $17.96 for 1 month. The cost of a smart phone runs roughly around $100.  The monthly cost for the internet access runs around $30/month more than a plan with just telephone service.  It’s a fair bargain to get a smart phone with internet access just for the apps in my opinion.  We get so much more quality of life from access to information.  SparkPeople is just one of a huge number of potential options on our side.  If affordable in our budgets, it is a friendly thing to have in hand.

Soon I’m going to write more about the idea referred to above, that staying on track can be addictive in a good way.  I liked her blog.  I like SparkPeople.  Having a smart phone helps me be friendly with myself.

Self Care Tip #69 – Think about getting a smart phone.  Be a friend to yourself.

Question:  Has easier access to information helped you take care of yourself?  How?  If not, why?  Please tell me your story.

Caught in Your Net – Thanks

Connecting more with friends since I started blogging. People I went to school with are knitted together electronically.  The world is smaller than ever.

In school, a people whom we drifted in and out of intimacy with, as kids will do, surrounded us.  Regardless of intimacy, they were generally there the next day and the next day. Familiar faces, personalities, specific laughs, and voices you could pick out in any crowd.  I’m pretty sure with many of them, I still could.

After many years without them there to see me fall off my chair, set a ball, share books, compare bra sizes, whisper, giggle – did I not miss them?  But I did.  Now however, through this technology-net, impossibly dispersed groups of people show their faces on my computer screen daily.  And regardless of degrees of intimacy, they are witnesses again when I fall down and when I stand.  I feel more alive!  Even seeing an angle of someone’s jaw line can take me back to a lawn and a tree and a bench we used to share between classes.  In almost real-time, I am laughing at their jokes, fame and foibles.  Crying with them when they lose.

Certain things are even better than they were when we were in school.  We don’t have as much time for closeting behaviors, hurts, shame.  It leaves more room for the real self to occupy.  Read more about this in the post “Sunshine.”

So to all you old (and new ;)) friends who have given me this privilege, thank you for catching me in your “net.”  Life with you is better.

Self Care Tip #58 – Connect with others to feel more alive.  Be a friend to yourself.

Question: What has helped you feel more connected?  Please tell me your story.

Criticize if You Love Me.

On the receiving end of criticism.  Different from playing football or tag, no one wants to be chased, i.e. criticized.  If given the choice, which would you choose?  Chase vs. flee?  Humans can be a bit predatory when it comes to offering up feedback.

However, what I’m talking about has nothing to do with abuse.  Verbal emotional abuse is about unequal power.  Abuse of any kind, including spoken abuse, is scary, painful and shameful.

What I’m talking about is simply criticism.  You mismanage something at work and your boss, corrects you.  After coming home from that, tired and feeling beaten up, your children are picking on each other.  Then you get them in bed and find that you forgot to write-up a report and it has to be done.  Your spouse tells you that he misses his time with you.  

It takes a lot of love to deal with something.  Turns out, it’s much easier to let it go.  Walk away.  Examples of trying to promote criticism are the advertisements targeting parents to tell their kids not to use drugs.  It takes love to say no.  Loving yourself as well as love for someone else.  Kids who don’t get this feel neglected and confused.  Adults can also feel lost in so much impersonal space and act out just to get noticed.  Some people might call this “gamey.”  I just call it normal.  It’s a normal instinct to want the boundaries of someone who cares pressing around you.  It’s normal to feel adrift without knowing that you are worth somebody’s bother.

I say,

spare the rod and spoil the child

…at all levels.  At any age or station.  And further more, with your self-to-self included.  If you love yourself, you end up wanting to do and be better.  Coming from any direction, we can take it when we know we are loved.

The best part of Proverbs 12:24 is the second half,

but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

So now, if given the choice, which would you choose?

Self Care Tip #56 – Bring it!  Take it!  Give it!  You are loved.  Be a friend to yourself.

Question:  Have you been criticized and known you were loved?  What’s your story?