I’d like to introduce to you, my pastor, John K. McGhee, Ed.D., Ed.S., M.S.P.H.
We met about ten years ago in Boston, and worshiped together there for no more than a couple of months. In contrast to how quickly I chose him, I’ve been very slow about letting him go. He lives around the globe, talking about health, Love, God and individuals. He has been and continues to be an important presence in my life and although I sit in other churches, he’s my pastor. May God continue to bless him, his family and his work.
Dr. Sana’s blog is persuasive, and possibly life-changing. However there may be some spiritually inclined conservative Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestants who may be uncomfortable with her emphasis on self-care as a vital first-step to healthy interactions. Isn’t it quite selfish and rather ungodly to focus on self-care? Don’t the great monotheistic faiths teach that people achieve their greatest potential when they unselfishly focus on serving others?
I wonder what God thinks about self-care? Probably it is impossible to know with certainty. Who can know God’s thoughts?
However, one can find ample evidence from the Holy Books to support a few principles about self-care.
1. Self-care is promoted in the Torah. Genesis 1:28 – 2:3 clearly identifies that God told Adam and Eve to have plenty of sex, and babies; eat nutritious food; and enjoy a delightful weekly rest.
2. Self-care is promoted in the New Testament. 3 John 2 clearly identifies a principle stated by the human being who was one of Dr. Jesus Christ’s closest friends. “Beloved I wish above all that you would prosper and be in health.” Here we recognize God’s concern with finance and health care on a very personal level. The language implies that there is a direct action involved by God’s friends that they would become financially viable and do what it takes to remain in good health.
3. Perhaps the most concentrated teaching on self-care is given by Paul who mentored Timothy so effectively. In I Timothy 4: 7 – 16, I find the following direct commands:
- Train yourself in godliness – this requires time to read, time to pray, time to think, time to do acts of kindness;
- Don’t let anyone put you down because you are a young teacher – this requires time to nourish a healthy ego, time to know who you are, time to build character;
- Do not neglect the gift(s) you have received – this requires time to write; time to develop musical or other artistic talents, time to share gifts with others in a faith fellowship community;
- And finally Paul counsels Timothy, “Pay close attention to yourself.”
Questions: What conflicts do you have in becoming your own friend with your religious beliefs? Is religion a barrier to you being friendly to you? Or, how has it been otherwise? Please tell us your story.
Self-Care Tip: Be aware of barriers to friendship with yourself, even religion.
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.
- Waiting For Self-Care to Start (friendtoyourself.com)
- Work Hard to Take Care of Yourself If You Want An Easier Time Taking Care Of Others (friendtoyourself.com)
- Love – Take What is Already Yours. You Have Been Given Love. (friendtoyourself.com)
- Self-Care Works You, Pushes You, Tires You Out Until You Are Happily Spent On Your Friend – You (friendtoyourself.com)
You are valuable.
Things in life; status, emotions, perception of different realities change – but this will not. You are valuable. Any time with you, even if only in your thoughts, is an immense privilege – for me or anyone, including you. You? Privileged to be with you? Yes.
Have you ever lost yourself? Have you felt the heat hit your face when your thoughts fly into a rage, words rushing out as if exploding dynamite. Bewildering, no? You know then.
Have you forgotten where your car keys are but do not care because you are still in bed and have no motivation to move. Your calendar, that once excited the tap of your fingers across your keyboard, holds no interest now. You hide, ashamed but mostly you just do not want to explain to others. “Too much energy,” you think. If so, you know then that being with you is a privilege.
All these things you despise are reminders that you are precious and of immense value. You are worth anything and everything to have the chance of holding once again. You are the reason people crossed the prairies, fought against the sun and hunted for food to survive. You are the reason the ark survived for forty days and forty nights. You are the reason precious metals are considered lovely. And it is because of you that you want to be your friend. You are valuable.
In the previous chapter, we talked about Briggs and his wife. They did not like the condition they were in, but they valued themselves as evidenced by seeking help. While taking their history, I gathered together the names of medications Briggs had taken, when he took them, why he took them, how long, why he stopped and what they did for him. And then the foreboding came. I started thinking about numbers.
Now, you know that I am not a number person. Remember? “Big fat F.” (F for feeler in terms of Jungian Typology.) But here was Briggs and when the numbers started obstructing my “F” I got uncomfortable. That meant to me that Briggs was risky. He could die.
In Chapter One, I asked you, “Is there any treatment you think is too extreme to consider to get brain health?” I did not say this directly to Briggs but I said it. In my thoughts, Briggs is so courageous to fight the cruel sun the way he does. In my thoughts, he is why freedom and fresh flowers and hope remain. He is valuable. I wanted to know his answer.
“Briggs, what do you want to do now?”
Our culture does not remember that Briggs is the reason that diamonds cost more than more. Culture tells us that he is damaged and not so much of a treasure. Culture says, some treatments are shameful and the value of hiding shame is more than the value of Briggs, or me, or you. For shame. The value of Me is more than the value of hiding shame.
We are part of culture and culture is part of us. Knowing what we want to do when what we have done has not yet worked, this knowing begins with our culture and with our self-value. This knowing of Me increases our freedom to choose. Knowing the value of Me increases our courage to choose what is difficult, what takes energy and hard work and a standing up against stigma and the taking of risks. Knowing what we want to do when starts with knowing the value of Me.
You are valuable and being with you is a privilege.
Do you know your value?
If you are lost, what are you willing to do to be with yourself again?
How has knowing your self-value increased your freedom to choose?
How has knowing your self-value helped you decide what to do when you were or are ill?
Please tell me your story.
Self-Care Tip – Remember your value.
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator – Psychology Definition of the Week (psychology.about.com)
- The Myers Briggs (gooseberrybush.wordpress.com)
- Shy Mind (babuedwin.wordpress.com)
- Myers Briggs (livingoverseasandlovingit.wordpress.com)
- Seeking Depression Help From St. John’s Wort (everydayhealth.com)
- What the science of human nature can teach us : The New Yorker (newyorker.com)
- Myers-Briggs Assessment (maasmith.com)
- Myers-Briggs for Workplace Stress Reduction (hrawakening.com)
- Myers-Briggs (bryanadominique.wordpress.com)
- Meyers Briggs Personality Types: An Introduction (myspiltbrains.wordpress.com)
Because of He makes me
Finding insight can often feel like going on a bear hunt. There’s a children’s classic that tells this story about our journey towards self-discovery well with this title. You Tube even has a catalog of animations for it. One of my favorites is by Michael Rosen. This guy has a face made for story-telling.
Sometimes when we venture out on our personal journey, a bit of the spirit of Columbus, a musketeer or a little boy with a stick in his hand. We have courage.
We are made beautiful by the courager; wind in our hair, weapon girded and travel pack filled with trail mix. And then mid-stride, mid-journey or in-process of anything our hand starts to shake. We remember more of our flaws rather than our merits. We remember abuse and encounter more of it. The tall grass becomes tangled around our ankles. We stumble often and start talking about why we cannot. We fear what we find or may find on the great hunt of accountability for our lives.
Words can be part of the tripping power over us. Words that point to all the power outside of us; over us. Words that erase our memories of what we have inside.
I am depressed
because I have so much stress at work.
I hit him
because he was being so rude.
but I wouldn’t cry all the time if you cared .
All the “reasons why” hover around us like angry weather, darkness or spooky caves.
I’m not forgetting the obvious. Hunting bears is dangerous. It is just a metaphor. Hunting for ourselves is less dangerous and more rewarding. We find that when we find our “bear,” and stay in the space of that fear for long enough over and over, it loses its power over us and our fears dissipate. We are safe and see that we have power.
Self-Care Tip: Get you some bear. You have the power and are not a victim.
Question: What keeps you from insight? How do you get past all the in-between that keeps you from seeing yourself and taking accountability for who you are? Please tell us your story.
- Literature. . .We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (amomwithalessonplan.com)
Much of self-care is about taking accountability for our choices. Choices come in deliberately – “Oh my! I’m old already! It’s time to have a baby!” Or not deliberately – “Oh my! He’s hot! Whoops! I’m having a baby!” Both choices brought a baby. Both choices accountable by Me.
In interpersonal exchanges this is ever in debate. From parenting to being parented, from spouses to friendship and all up and down the Mississippi river – the martyrs stake rarely collects dust.
That baby keeps her awake and she can never sleep with her husband any more or else no one gets any sleep.
That’s a lot of responsibility to put on those tiny infant shoulders. Don’t you think?
Mom just runs my life! I have things to do but every weekend she expects me to be by her side!
Mom may run your life but you are choosing for her to do it if that is true.
The scenes could continue on our imaginary screen, but our own are enough to keep us busy. We don’t need others from others to get the point. But insight only takes us so far. Sometimes I get all grumpy and say, “Insight isn’t worth much.” Because, we all know that we don’t choose many of our emotions. We are learning here at FrientoYourself.com also that we don’t choose many of our behaviors. Insight sits in us like a stone fruit. Eat it up or don’t, eventually all we have left is a stone if we don’t have the biology to work with it.
Self-Care Tips in a stone fruit: To take care of ourselves, to take accountability for our choices, to use our insight for more than a midmorning snack fruit – we must have the working body to turn insight into production. One stone fruit can germinate and grow.
Question: What relationship does insight have in your self-care? What limitations does it have in your self-care? please tell us your story.
- Good Sleep (friendtoyourself.com)
- Just Go To Sleep (friendtoyourself.com)
- Rotate Your Picture To Connect And Grow Presence In Your Life (friendtoyourself.com)
- The Games Parents Play (blogher.com)
- Strategize Your Energy Deposits and Your Work To Heal Emotionally (friendtoyourself.com)
Guest Blogger: Asia Sharif-Clark
If I could compare us to part of a tree, it would be a solid trunk. We stand firm, strong, and tall securing the roots beneath and the leaves above.
There’s only one problem and it’s a big one, most trunks don’t lean. Leaning symbolizes receiving support from others, standing means giving support from oneself. We’ve got standing perfected.
Now we must allow ourselves to lean. That’s where the branches comes in. They move with the wind, sway in the rain; giving to leaves, yet receiving from the trunk. Giving and receiving. Standing and leaning.
I’ve learned to lean more and more over the years and am amazed at the immense joy others experience from giving to me. I am open and happy to receiving.
Self-Care Tip – Wishing you more moments to lean.
Question: Can you tell us about the leaning motion in your life?
I’m Asia Sharif-Clark, founder of Centered Self Worldwide, the Glow Weekend, and the Glow Circle. In 90 days, I take women from overworked and overwhelmed to empowered and energized. And, that’s just the beginning. I invite you to Raise Your Joy!