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!
Hello Dear Friends.
Seems I’m heading toward a different blog-site level of productivity. Wasn’t deliberately turning that way, but turn I have. I’m just saying this so you know that I acknowledge the change in flow and am thunking, thinking on it.
I will post a minimum of one to two times a week. In between, I hope to develop the material we have now, clean it up and share it again, integrated with your comments and what we’ve worked over this past year.
That done, I can chat about other stuffy stuff.
Today, I was thinking about our interpersonal connections we believe so strongly improve our ability to be our own friend. However, that is not the same as pairing with someone who is bad to us. We’ve talked about how abuse, any kind, disables us from connecting. “Get off of me!” is self-care when there is an unequal sense of power being used and we are trying to gain accountability for where we are at in life now.
In my mind’s eye, imagining that, I saw a figure lying on her side and someone heavy lying on top. “Get off of me!” could mean, “Get off and get away.” It could also mean, “Rotate the picture.”
See the picture turn 90-degrees? Now the two figures are standing beside each other rather than subjected. The two figures are connected, proximate and present to each other’s experiences. “Get off of me!” doesn’t have to mean, “Get out of my life.” It might be able to mean, “Rotate. Stand beside me. I choose connection in my life and not subjugation.”
Insight isn’t everything though. If saying, “Get off of me and stand beside me. Stay connected. Stop controlling.” doesn’t happen despite insight, we might be looking at behaviors and emotions that are symptoms of brain disease of Me or of the other person(s). Medical illness needs more than word play and adjusting picture frames.
Questions: Have you been able to rotate any pictures in your life in any ways that have helped you be a better friend to yourself? What? Has that improved your sense of connection with people you didn’t want to lose? Please tell us your story.
Self-Care Tip – Rotate your picture to connect and grow presence in your life.
- Whenever You Are Unsure, Go Back To “Me” – Self Care as A Reference Point (friendtoyourself.com)
- Deliberately Setting Myself Up To Improve (friendtoyourself.com)
- Safety in Connections With Others (friendtoyourself.com)
- Supercharge Your Life Purpose (friendtoyourself.com)
- Presence Encourages Self-Care (friendtoyourself.com)
My dear friends, “second family” as Carl D’Agostino describes us, tomorrow is our one year anniversary. The misty memories leak a little, slurring my senses from any more I could handle just yet. I am almost forced to account. I am wetted.
By your simplicity or complexity, by your comments completing all those blog-posts with what we all needed still to hear and say, because you gave me your time better than I had known – in these ways you took me to spaces, cultures, homes, pleasures and suffering I could not have discovered in any travel, insight or study. You are the gift I never knew to ask for, the gift that was not a negotiation, that was free and multiplied because of its inherent goodness – you.
Every time I saw that you read, I read that you thought, with me, and knew you gave also. Every time it has been as if Fed-Ex dropped a package at my little door. My fingers tingled when I joined you in our space as we typed and pondered and explored to unwrap,
“What makes Me a better friend to myself?”
Of all the late nights and frenzied minutes here and there, when I maneuvered moments into my days to spend with you, I never regretted the work. I never wanted less. I discovered, as if a virgin shore came in site and after years of feeling like a slow-moving barge – after that, I could race ahead. I wanted a going, a learning and a people to know and be known by. I discovered where to exhaust and pour my precious self with purpose rather than chance.
I found in this year together that every day there was a place to grow myself, to connect me with Me and with others, to account for what I determined loss and for what I considered gain and together, I found my best friend. Me. How could there be a better gift? You didn’t even know, which showed that the gifts we give are not always deliberate. Some of them come from us by accident and some by design. Maybe what you gave was just because but, I don’t care. I care about the rest. I care about my improved self-esteem, my refined purpose, my voice I learned better to throw and shape according to the needs I felt in Me and others.
And now as my eyes clear a little, since I’ve been given my chance to tell, this year stands alone in my history and unlike so many others, I am now able to say with any voice I find – I am special and worthy to be served. And in so doing, I am loving both of us better. I can say without a blush that this is different from what they call “self-serving” and when I see you doing it too, I will try to bank better in my own account rather than steel.
The circle that started with Me and connected then through numbers of points where you are and who you touch and tell and have exemplified what being your own friend means, circles back and find Me again. I am humbly grateful to you and most to my God who brought us together. It is enough of a miracle that if I hadn’t before, I would now believe that I don’t understand. I submit myself to He who is greater than Me yet calls me His Beloved.
Thank you for this year of magic.
- The Gift of Desperation (friendtoyourself.com)
No one can tell me what’s wrong with me!
When medications don’t do what we hoped we wonder what that means. We think about the possibility that our diagnosis is wrong, that we are outside the known world of science or a new variation of diseased who will suffer without a label. Is suffering without a label even decent?
Stephani wasn’t the only one in the world with these thoughts but she felt like it. It was as if she was waiting for her real life to begin when she considered herself well. There was the good part of her that was about fifty percent of her day hanging around. The rest of the day was wrong. She wasn’t able to cope with stressors and became helter skelter at random times of the day.
Trading places, in the door and out, out and in, polite enemies at best, the good Stephani and the wrong Stephani vied for platform. Either part of her never felt fully right because of the looming flaws. She couldn’t trust herself as long as they divided her life.
I don’t know why I don’t get better.
I don’t know either.
That’s a precarious position to maintain as a physician. My job is at stake because who goes to a specialist without answers? …At least not traditional answers.
Take this pill tonight and put this warm compress on your bladder. In the morning you’ll feel better.
Darn it! Sometimes I so want to be that doctor! But this is me.
What are you waiting for? Is this place in life better than losing your life? Why?
And then Stephani mentioned a few things that kept her breathing: hope to get well, hope to have a family some day, life itself, her husband….
Why are you right or wrong? Why are you well or sick? Can you be both?
Hm. I saw some relief begin to settle in. However, I also saw frustration. Stephani wasn’t ready to be flawed and perfect. She really like either/or. That’s fine for now. We were able to spend a little more time on the idea of loving all of her, of being a friend to all of her and of counting this moment worth living more actively. If she doesn’t bale on me, we have time for her to get into the same room with herself. The joining up of her wrongs and rights will make her life journey a lot better and less confusing.
People like Stephani have an addiction-like disease process to the either/or, the extremes, the poles, which we describe as “all-or-none” thinkers. They remind me of any other blessed addict. They would most likely do great working this over as an addiction. Working the Steps. Then they would understand what any other addict who works The Steps understands. Failing is just part of the journey.
Questions: Can you be both flawed and perfect? How? How do you love both parts of you? Please tell us your story.
Self-Care Tip – When you fail, remember that it is just part of your journey and keep on.
Related Blog-Posts, FriendtoYourself.com:
- You Might Fall In Love With Your Flaws
- Love Differently, Love Your Flaws – Be a Tall Poppy
- Lady Gaga – Born This Way
- Try, Knowing We Will Fail
- Loving Me Without Ambivalence
- Finding What Perfectionism Can Offer Our Self-Care – In Summary
- Celebrate Your Imperfections
- Getting Away From All-Or-None Thinking
If you’ve argued, here’s what I want to ask you today:
Are you getting what you want?
That argument we had, knowing the pristine rightness of our position, knowing we have taken the fall so many times for reasons as loaded, knowing we’ve been disadvantaged, our pearls were trampled and we knew and we argued because we thought we finally should. Was it friendly to Me? Choosing to argue. (There we’ve already passed up the victim role and claimed accountability for the argument. We chose it.)
The question is what is most friendly to Me? To be right? Hm. What will we do with the rightness? Sleep with it at night? Will it clean our house? Will we get anything for it? Will it take us on vacation? What ever the argument was about.
Most of us think we are right. Now what?
Ellen had argued. Not aggressively. There was no volume or matter flying about. It was short but potent. A bit nuclear if you must know. She was so in the right. If she were a tooth, she’d be the brightest whitest one in the mouth. Pearly white. An incisor perhaps. She gained ground but lost her goal. Now, neither of them got what they wanted. They just got what any one gets when they argue. Lonely.
Mass General put out a great guideline to conflict resolution I’ve reference below if you want to peruse …or tattoo it to your arm.
Basically, if you want to get something, let the other person save face. You ain’t getting much by being right. Think about what is friendly to yourself and remember that friendly is not what is easy, natural or desired many times. It is what improves you and gets you what you really want in the big picture.
If you can’t do this even though you are deliberately trying, it may be that it is a symptom of brain illness and needs medical care.
So how am I doing in our argument? Smile. Are you getting what you want? Have you ever been mid-stride argument and been able to change the direction of your projection? Have you ever been able to stop yourself once you started and chose to be friendly with yourself rather than just right? How? Please tell me your story.
Self-Care Tip: You guessed it. Let him save face.
- A Thoughtful Response to Conflict Resolution Commandos. (roiword.wordpress.com)
- Conflict Resolution: How To Apologize Gracefully (personalsnewzealand.wordpress.com)
- Anger Control Plan (nutripsychtherapy.wordpress.com)
- How to Argue Effectively & Win (kaushikinfo.wordpress.com)
- Arguments. (robgjr.wordpress.com)
- Conflict mediation: Privatising peace (economist.com)
- Love is There. The Friendliest Knowing We Can Have. (friendtoyourself.com)
- What Comes To Me From Others Is a Gift (friendtoyourself.com)
She is worth it!
Have you said that? Half crazed from this-way-that-way behaviors, your battered psyche crawls out of the smoking heap from your most recent relationship collision. There are times when this is absurd to continue. But have you ever seen those people who crawl out smiling? Sure their eyes are rolling around on their face but they are smiling. That might be you too. And there’s a reason for it. However the reason may not be what you think.
She is worth it!
I’m not disputing “her” value in this admirable exchange that takes all your energy. But what I do dust off from the good “encounter” we just spoke of is that although she may be worth it, I propose that isn’t the reason you think it is. The reason is you.
You find pleasure in it because of what it does for you. You think you are worth it, and you are.
Even the Bible says,
We love because He loved me first. 1 John 4: 19
We love because of what it does for Me. God isn’t surprised by that or looking down His nose at our motivation. It sounds like He is actually embracing it – fully consented.
Remember when we talked about inevitable selfish motives, secondary gain and the absence of altruism in us? Is that an ugly thing about us? I don’t think so. It is what it is.
Now this does not evaporate the connection, the realness of the exchange between two, the value of the bond or its quality. See blog-post, Things Will Always Be About “Me.” It does nothing else but discuss the motivation. I believe understanding our motivation to remain in a relationship is important not to devalue it or value it differently, but to help us take care of our own selves.
She is worth it. That isn’t the question.
What can go wrong in our self-friendship when we think we are motivated by reasons outside of what is in it for Me? What do you think? I think it distracts us. It’s wasted energy and we don’t have enough to waste. Getting it right, puts energy into us. Getting it wrong, takes energy away.
Yesterday we talked about wanting to connect with someone who has character pathology. Any of us can say that this is hugely energy depleting at times. If we think we are doing this for any other reason than for ourselves, we will get “burned” much more often than we might if we understand that we choose, consented, freely and for ourselves. We will wear the victim-crown and die the death of worn out do-gooders who lived to do nothing really but bemoan their special suffering existence. See blog-post, Please Don’t Say “But.”
Self-Care Tip – Do things for yourself with self-knowledge.
Evening friends. Or morning. Spent the day today and will tomorrow being present with the father of my children. Can’t give what we don’t have and I’m thankful, humbly, to say that I have love for him. That’s currency of sorts I suppose. There have been sad times for us when I didn’t have bank.
What has being a friend to yourself invested in you? Do you find love there? You were made for it. Blessings! 🙂
Self-Care Tip # I can’t remember! – Give to yourself love and friendship and you will find love and friendship where it dwells.
It’s a term a lot of people use but I don’t think we are all using it to mean the same thing. It is poorly defined and confusing. If codependency were a medication, we would call it a “dirty medicine,” because it hits so many “receptors.” It is nonspecific.
Who hasn’t ever been shamed by the fear that they are codependent?
You are codependent!
Am I codependent!!!??
The word implies blame. Blame for what? And that is one of the places we walk away without benefit. Was the word useful to any of us in any way?
In general, vaguely, codependence implies awareness and participation with mal-behavior that we are powerless to. Treatment preferably includes a twelve-step program that includes the surrender of what we don’t have power over to our Higher Power. Codependence may incidentally be combined with brain disease and of course that would need medication therapy.
There are however a few things that must be cleared up.
- There is nothing shameful about being married, the child of or of any relation to an addict. That position doesn’t diagnose us with codependency unless that’s what that word is being used to define. You never know.
- There is no shame in wanting to be with people, depend on people, seek people out to problem-solve and get energy from being with people. That position does not diagnose codependency unless that’s what the word is being used to define. You never know.
- There may be a relationship to family of addicts
- There may be a relationship to anger problems
- There may be a relationship to kids of parents who expected perfect kids, spouses of spouses who expect perfect spouses, pet-owners who… (Oh wait. That’s not right.)
BUT, per Dr. Q, if we find ourselves…
- in recurring negativity – perhaps an argument that happens over and over
- with an increasingly limited ability to participate in life
- doing things we wouldn’t normally do/out of character
- tied into someone else’s mal-behavior
- consciously aware of that someone’s mal-behavior
IT’S WORTH THINKING ABOUT IT. We might not be codependent, whatever that means, but we do need help.
Questions: How do you identify this in your life or someone you know? How have you been able to stop being dependent on someone you knew was repeatedly doing mal-behavior? Please tell me your story.
Self-Care Tip #275 – Forget the shame and just get about your work to figure this out.
We are doing a narrative series on understanding where emotions and behaviors come from:
- Emotions Are Contagious – Emotions shared
- Our own Emotional Junk – Emotions hidden
- Positive Emotions and Behaviors are Contagious Too
- Our Conscious Self is Our Board and Paddle at Sea – Small conscious self and BIG unconscious self
- Biopsychosocial Model – Biological, Psychological, Social selves
- Me! (Today’s Post)
What we have covered so far in our series is that we know emotions are contagious. We know that if we take care of our own first, we might not be as “susceptible” to negative “contagion” in turn and perhaps, be more available to giving and receiving positive “emotion-contagion.” Further, we hope that if we do this, we might be able to choose to be with people we love even if they don’t do their own self-care. We can have that connection without personalizing what isn’t about us. Sigh. That is nice, isn’t it? Then …out at sea (away from our narrative for a day,) we talked about the pleasure in engaging with what bits of biology are directly available to us and the relationship we maintain with the big expanse of our unconscious biology. Yesterday we reviewed our biopsychosocial model as a tool for further understanding where our emotions and behaviors come from.
Self-Care Tip #272 – If you are ever unsure about where your emotions and behaviors are coming from, it is always safe and true enough to say, “Me.”
Where do emotions and behaviors come from?
For example: Me <–> Emotions Shared <–> Me <–> Emotions Hidden <–> Me <–> small conscious self and BIG unconscious self <–> Me <–> Biological, Psychological, Social selves <–> Me… round and round, starting and ending and starting with Me.
Rob and Yesenia were both breathing hard. Rob was pale and Yesenia flushed. Where to start? With Me. This is what I shared with them both.
Put your spouse down and take three steps back! Own your own self. Take care of your own self. In the process, you will be able to pick each other up again and share love.
Questions: What are you holding, carrying, using to explain where your emotions and behaviors come from? How have you been able to put those down and hold yourself? Please tell me your story.
We are starting a narrative series on discussing where emotions and behaviors come from:
Anxiety bubbled, frothed and infused the air. Yesenia could barely catch a breath. Here’s the thing. Yesenia is not in treatment with me. Her husband, Rob, is. Yet it was Yesenia who filled our space. There was barely room for Rob and I to sit or speak with all that anxiety around. Rob was breathing faster every moment and his face didn’t have much color. …Where to start?
(What do you think? think? think? echo echo echo…)
It was too early in our work together to expect Rob to know this, but emotions are contagious. Anxiety is very contagious. To say this another way we could say, the emotion of anxiety around us influences how our genes express themselves. It is further explained by saying that my “patient” isn’t only Rob. My patient includes the system he lives in, i.e. his home milieu, wife, kids, work and so forth. But especially his wife. Because of Yesenia’s untreated emotional disease, Rob’s emotional disease worsens. The inverse is true as well and so we go round and round gaining momentum. Like a big ball of hard packed snow gathering speed and girth as it rolls down the mountain, anxiety grows. …Where to start?
(What do you think? think? think? echo echo echo…)
Self-Care Tip #267 – When suffering from emotional illness, remembering that emotions are contagious (no matter who they come from) is useful to your self-care.
Questions: How have you experienced the contagion of emotions? or seen it play out in others? Please tell me your story.
- Patient on Patient Crime – Our Response to Our Own Illness (friendtoyourself.com)
- Where Does Courage Come From? (friendtoyourself.com)
Self-Care Tip #237 – When things get heated, get a second opinion with your friend.
What would my friend say?
When in question, ask. And who is the friend we are referred to here? The “Me.”
This is a great check point to give ourselves. Things get heated between her and him, she gets a second opinion.
Barbara had read this blog and tucked something of its fabric away in her blended space between conscious and sub. Then one day, while zoning out listening to her husband yell and criticize her, she saw herself. It was as if she split into the participating Barbara and the observing Barbara. The participating Barbara suddenly didn’t feel so alone. The word, or more the concept of “friend” came to mind and she put it together.
Now generally when she is in a situation that hurts and bewilders her, she is remembering to ask her friend what she should do. Asking used to take longer, but now it comes to mind as quickly as the thought of consulting an intimate partner would.
What would my friend say?
Things weren’t peaceful yet in her life, but just asking her friend what she would do has helped Barbara a lot. Barbara explained to me that if she were with a girlfriend, say Sally, and Sally gets worked over by her husband, Barbara wouldn’t have any problem thinking of what Sally should do about taking care of herself. Barbara says that being her own friend is almost the same.
And then for me, it clicked. I can ask my friend.
What should I do?
Question: When getting hurt by someone, how can you get friendly with yourself in the moment? Please tell me your story.
Self-Care Tip #195 – Take care of yourself to give Love to others.
Belen came in, confident. She was comfortable in her element. Working in her area of specialty was her delight and she didn’t worry about clocking hours or mixing it up with family. Her work was part of what family meant to her. It was what brought pleasure to her life.
“Wonderful!” you say. And yes, it is. “Why then did she come in to see me?” you ask. Glad you asked.
This was Belen’s third marriage. Marriage was not where she felt confident. Talking marriage was when her lip surfaced, quivering on her face, transforming her. In the past, Belen had often dropped her husband’s name, laced him into stories she told and her ring was a favorite finger toy. I had the impression that Belen was proud to be married to this man. But it wasn’t until today that Belen spoke about Ben directly.
I sat up because I was curious about this emotion that had flickered behind it all until today, when it was front and center.
In this case, Belen was afraid of her emotions in fact. She was aware of them, but they were in a foreign code to her. Tap-tap-pause-tap-tap-tap-pause… and so on. She started by telling me about their evenings together.
Ben was a grazer who expected open time with her. Belen, however, was a barn girl. When she sat with her husband in their “open time” over a slow dinner, a drink, watching him read a book beside her – it took everything in her reserve each day to stay put. All her nerves were dancing, telling her to get up and work. It was what gave Belen her quality of life. Her work was her self-care. Ben’s time to meander through thoughts and play was in contrast, what gave him pleasure in life. He waited all day, pushing through a task driven job, to come home and do this.
Potential negative energy was coiling up inside and Belen was afraid that she might be overcome by it. Belen did not want to think about what that might end with. Another failed marriage? Losing this man she was so glad to be married to? Dying alone? She looked at me sideways, ashamed of her emotions.
I’m turning into Crazy Wife. I yell at him for things that are no big deal.
My answer came too fast this time. It wasn’t graceful or polite. I regret that. It’s never been a forte for me and one of the reasons I recommend my patients find a psychotherapist who will patiently stand beside them rather than collar them and drag them to water (like a certain psychiatrist I know.)
Do what gives quality to your life. Claim it when you do and don’t hold him responsible for it. He’ll feel guilty and defensive. ‘Oh, I have so much work to do honey. I can’t sit here…’ You are not a victim. This is your choice.
I wish the blog world was the same as the real world where people have a chance and can think about things before they (say) them.
Alas, at least we have our keyboards, pencils and erasers.
Belen was losing her lovely confidence to resentment because she wasn’t doing what she was wired to do. She wasn’t owning her choices. She thought loving her husband meant that she shouldn’t and because of that, she was only giving him her uncared for self. She didn’t realize that doing what gave her joy was the best way to Love others.
Question: How do you help the people you love realize that when you take care of yourself, you are taking care of them too? (This should get interesting!) Please tell me your story.
- Love & Marriage (pawprintsinslavery.wordpress.com)
- The Paradox of Positivity: Are Some of Us Being Too Positive About Our Spouses? (psychologytoday.com)
- How to Predict Whether You Should Stay or Go (psychologytoday.com)
- Work Hard to Take Care of Yourself If You Want An Easier Time Taking Care Of Others (friendtoyourself.com)
Self-Care Tip #174 – Work hard to take care of yourself if you want an easier time taking care of others.
My marriage has never been better.
Kirsten had good posture. She made eye contact and she wasn’t fidgeting when she told me about the changes in her life. I hadn’t seen her in clinic for two years and apparently in that time she had set her husband free. She was seeing less of him than she ever had and they were both busier than any other time in their lives. Yet their marriage was at its peak. I felt like I was getting off the point of why she came and wondered if asking her for details was unprofessional. I did want to know. Lucky for me, she wanted to tell and I just let it happen, as if I was doing her a favor.
I admit, sometimes I get something out of my clinicals. I’m not always the best therapist. I don’t always keep things about my patient when I let myself receive, or even actively take from them. None of us are that altruistic. Therapy is supposed to be one place any of us can go, and know that when we go, we can expect to receive everything except the fee-for-service. Therapy should be the closest thing to a one way street in this non-altruistic world.
To my rescue, Kirsten said,
He has been meeting with friends, exercising, eating out and working the 12-Steps twice a week.
Yes he was sober, but he was also a bunch of other stuff. Taking care of himself, he became a better husband. Better body, clearer mind, happier, more attentive, less angry; she could hardly stop listing.
Taking care of himself took a lot of work but it made taking care of her a lot less work. True, she wasn’t the center of his life, she gave up on some fantasies, she didn’t ask him for more time, but all those in the past had only grown her own point of anger and blame and not the marriage dreams she thought they would – letting them go was a good thing. Yet, cutting him free still felt risky to her. She came to me because she was becoming more aware of what that fear was doing. When she was afraid, she was sabotaging herself. Bits of herself recognized that she could feel as free as her husband did.
To be free of fear for Kirsten, she needed medical help. Kirsten’s fear came from nowhere, out of the blue and was not only triggered by suspicions about her husband. To be free for Kirsten’s husband required other forms of self-care.
Question: What kind of self-care does your freedom need? How has your hard work on your own self-care spilled over into less work to care for others?
- Set Your Self-Care Free. It Is Not A Moral Issue. (friendtoyourself.com)
- Self-Care is Freedom, is Democracy, is Because We Are Accountable (friendtoyourself.com)
- Know What You Are Fighting For – Your Right To Journey. (friendtoyourself.com)