Just Go To Sleep

Sleep

Image via Wikipedia

A multitude of sins would be forgiven, pills would be forgotten, pain would be diminished, hope would be restored, brain would be healthy if we would but go to sleep.

Questions:  What keeps you from self-indulging when it is time to go to bed but you’d rather not?  What helps you get your restorative brain rest?  Have you noticed that everything is better with sleep?  Would you describe it to us?

Self-Care Tip – Get solid restful sleep.  Be a friend to yourself.

Summarizing What You Say About Friendship With Yourself

Friendship

Image by Rickydavid via Flickr

In Summary:

Q1:  What does being “a friend to yourself” mean?

  • self-awareness
  • Acting on that self-awareness
  • Grieving who I wished I was
  • Valuing Me

Q2:  What helps?

  • Knowing where emotions and behaviors come from
  • No self-injury or aggression to others
  • Knowing God
  • Gratitude/self-inventory
  • Support from outside of Me
  • Personal check-points in place to offensively guard again self-sabotage

Q3:  What doesn’t help?

  • Perfectionism
  • Ingratitude
  • Untreated or treatment resistant brain illness
  • Stigma
  • misdirected efforts to feel empowered (such as, preoccupied thoughts = control)
  • isolation
  • habit

Q4:  What helps despite this?

  • Self-forgiveness
  • Realism/Without catastrophizing
  • Tenacity
  • Remembering what your self-care has done
  • Presence

Q5:  What is the relationship between biology and choice when it comes to understanding where emotions and behaviors come from?

  • Biological template determines function
  • Choice is there for using that template

Sleep Does Not Lose As Gracefully As He Lets Us Think

Cougar sleep

Image via Wikipedia

Self-Care Tip #244 – Sleep when the day is over, and play another time.  Be a friend to yourself.

Sometimes it is hard to let the day end.  Michael told me that he was having trouble sleeping.  I asked him to tell me more and heard him describe fun-filled hours of movies, computer, phone-calls and late-night snacks that were disturbing his sleep-initiation.  Just listening to him, I felt a yearning catch spark in me to have the freedom to be spontaneous again.  You might know what I mean.

The opportunities to be spontaneous have shrunken up as our choices have brought us expanding fillers for time, attention, money, energy, emotion, personal resources and magic.  It is no wonder that letting the day end meets reluctance.  Those last few hours that sleep called shot-gun for are ours with less fist than big brother used to stage.  Sleep doesn’t put up much fight …at first.  At first, it concedes to us.  It lifts it’s chin casually until given turn.  However, much like the loan shark, sleep will never go unpaid.  It will take it’s due.  Maybe just not tonight.  Maybe you won’t hear about it until later.  And there are no promises that it won’t take by force, from one part or another of our body, our brain, our beauty, our emotions – debts are not forgotten here.

Michael says, as if he were the victim here,

It takes most people about thirty minutes to fall asleep.  But me!  It takes me hours to.  

We started talking about sleep hygiene and Michael just wasn’t interested.  I asked him to simply read about it and just see what he thought he might be able to start with.  One change maybe that he thought was tolerable.

These negotiations are sometimes best when the patient feels like they came up with the idea.  Michael is going to read about this and hopefully become his own advocate.  He will hopefully “sell” it to himself with the information both from facts but also from experience.  It’s no accident that Costco sets up samples at ever turn of their superstore.  Nor that we can never seem to leave without spending at least $100 in cash – not credit!  Cash!  (Argh.)  Maybe Michael will sample and decide to sleep rather than play at night.  He might have to “taste it” to believe and choose for himself.

Spontaneity will always lure us, dangle her jangly jewelry, give her side-ways glance and make us long for those midnight hours to open up in playful company.  However, sleep is not as gracious as it seems.  Don’t be fooled.

Question:  Do you consider sleep hygiene important to self-care and why?  How do you see it related to you being a friend to yourself?  Please tell me your story.

Does What You Live For Make Life Better For You or Worse?

Project 365 June 2008 Mosaic

Image by Newbirth35 via Flickr

Self-Care Tip #212 – Figure out what you are living for and use it to make your life wonderful.

All of us have at least one thing in life that will undo us.  We all have something(s) that we consider worth living for.  For the most primitive to the most cultured, from the most defended to the most vulnerable, we have this (these) soft spot(s).  For me, it is my family.  Many of us might say the same, but there are others of us who have other beauties, treasures, The Pearl (as described by Steinbeck) that they would unravel over.

Because this is so scary, we might get snared up in where to go banking when we think about this.  We buy more guns, build more storehouses, fill our basement with jugs of water and like Japan, we find ourselves undone by our own preparations.

An interesting statistic is that homes with guns in them have more suicides.  In famine, the rats eat all the grain before we can.  And poor Japan, who had the most amazing defenses against, an unheard of, three simultaneous natural disasters, is leaking cancer.

Pricilla, also, was almost undone.  She’d argued with her husband and she felt fragmented by it.  She felt herself dissolving from the emotional pain and did not even want to recover.  The argument was bad.  The construct of her world precariously balanced moment by moment immobilizing her.  If she moved, she was afraid of which way life would tilt.

Soft spots can be our greatest strengths though.  We can see them as weakening our defense against life’s cruelty, or we can see them otherwise.  When we live defensively, we miss a lot.  Pricilla, I was fortunate enough to witness, chose to go towards her pain, which was in fact going towards what made life valuable to her.  Pricilla wasn’t able to do this until her emotions (what she interpreted her reality with) became more friendly to her.  Her emotions had been awry and she had been a fearful person for a long time.  After working hard on her medical illness through self-care, including medications and other life-style changes, Pricilla became less preoccupied with her ruminating fears.

Pricilla was learning through gene therapy (i.e., medications and lifestyle changes) to use her love for her husband as a strength.  I wonder about those in Japan.  I know we have prayed for them and hurting for them and hoping.

The other day in my children’s Classical Conversations class one of the teachers prayed for the rescue and survival for the citizen’s of Japan.  I prayed for a wonderful death or dying process for those who weren’t going to live.  I don’t think either of us prayed better or braver than the other and I don’t bring this up to qualify prayers.  I say it to highlight how we were holding our soft-spots.  The individual Japanese is at the point in their life’s journey, I imagine, where the life lived till now was a preparation of sorts for how they would hold themselves during this disaster.  How did they defend themselves?  Were their soft-spots their points of vulnerability and weakness, or strength?

Questions:  What do you live for?  Is it empowering to you or does it make you scared?  Please tell me your story.

You Might Find That You Are A Genius

Did I do the right choice !?

Questions:  What do you do when you are avoiding something?  When you have a job waiting under your nose, what is it that you find yourself using to procrastinate with?

If you see a pattern in what you use to self-sooth with, to avoid with, to divert with and to ease the pain of doing what you don’t want to do, write it down somewhere else.  It’s already written on your heart.  This, with some introspection and purposeful hard work, might be your genius, your natural place of interest and where you are able to feel pleasure and quality of life.  This is an activity, (now hold on – even resting is an activity, so put your hand down,) that is consistent with your hard-wiring – your genes.  Get it?  Genes.  Genius.  That’s why we need to know ourselves to get friendly with ourselves.  Our self-care isn’t too friendly fighting our biology – our temperament.

I noticed this tonight as I was perusing and writing emails when I have to finish up a talk I’m giving tomorrow for the Rotary.  I noticed this when I turned to write my post on this blog before working on that talk I’m giving tomorrow for Rotary.  It’s 8:15 pm.

This post is not glorifying the act of procrastination, avoidance or shirking responsibility.  (Shame on me.  Don’t remember this.  Don’t let this imprint on your minds.)  This post is simply saying, if you are, take a few to use what you’re doing for your self-care.  In the future, you could then choose more actively to do those things that you discovered come so naturally to you.  You might find that you are a Genius!  Wouldn’t that be fun?

Self-Care Tip # 210 – Use whatever comes your way, including procrastination, to teach you about becoming a better friend to yourself.

Escape Self-Loathing

happinessinthisworld.com

Self-Care Tip #91 – Put the fight down and take 2 steps back.  Be a friend to yourself.

He came in looking really good.  Chris had seen me for many years and he hasn’t always looked this way.  I said

You look great!

Chris shrugged and told me he had just had a long messy argument with his partner and somehow still felt alright.  In the past, after they fought and the self-loathing set in, he might have hurt himself – like using alcohol or cutting on himself to

…just feel something different.

I was ready to move past the story as he sounded like he was ok with it.  We talked past each other.  Me asking about his sleep, and Chris telling me clips and phrases from the argument.

But amazingly I’m fine!  If he wanted me out today, I’d be out of there, no problem.  He just needs to say the word!

Chris was sitting back in his chair, relaxed until then.  His hands came up and took control of his space, thrusting as he spoke.

Being a psychiatrist, my expertise kicked in and I realized I should turn back.  Chris wasn’t ready to talk about sleep.  You see what all those years of school can do.  Not everyone knows how to pick up on such subtleties.

Chris, maybe you aren’t so happy you argued.

We talked more about his energy, appetite and motivation.  Then we came back to his argument.

It’s none of his f—— business where I am during the day!  I’m not his child.  I’m his partner!  I told him…!

And so on.  Chris still looked better than when he was in the grip of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, or when he was catatonic.  But he didn’t sit comfortably with himself.  And I thought, Chris has fought so hard for himself, why can’t he handle what I want to say?  And I did.  And he did.  Beautifully.  He was a brave knight on a black steed holding his wounded sides.  Life had been a battle for him, but he was making choices to fight less and live more.

“Ok.  Yes.  You’re right.  I will next time.  That makes sense.”

When you’re about to engage in something that in the end will make you loath yourself, choose not to.  That’s friendly to you and your other.  Say something like,

When I was gone you felt jealous?

Give over stage and anger and open windows and breath.  Just choose not to hurt yourself.  Winning or losing the argument, in the end, you hurt by your own choice.

Biologically and probably spiritually Chris wouldn’t have known what to do with that years ago.  But he did now.  I saw him relax again and put his hands away.  I knew Chris had a love for Love and this clicked for him.

I can’t describe how happy I was/am.  Being a part of his journey is a great honor.

Question:  How have you escaped self-loathing and your mean self in the heat of the moment?  Please tell me your story.

It Might Be Your Brain

How are you feeling? If it’s not good, it might not be “you.” It might be your brain.

When you don’t feel good, look at what’s happening inside.  Think about where feelings come from.  It’s hard to use your brain to think about your brain.  (Read more at “Basic but Effective.”)  But what to do?  Doctor Dolittle‘s pushmi-pullyu’s might have been able to tell us something of our missed opportunities by not having two heads and two brains.  (Unfortunately they’re extinct!)

Feeling bad, irritable, guilty, sad, like everything is flat, nervous, emotions that are out of proportion or inappropriate to the situation or trigger?  These feelings might have nothing to do with “you” and everything to do with your brain.  At some point if you get tired of beating yourself for the holes in your purse, if you don’t understand why things feel the way they do, if you want to rest, think medical.

Fred came in with his father, hiding himself in his shirt, in his father’s shirt, like a mouse who couldn’t find his hole.  The teacher from his special education class came in to help give history and told me about everyone’s efforts to bring him out.  Skinny, Fred preferred not to eat in front of people.  He started shaking in strange situations and climaxed into a tantrum if pushed to transition too quickly.  He was vulnerable to physical contact and avoided anyone touching him.  When he was really upset, he banged his head so hard that he had to wear a helmet.  When I asked his parents if they thought he was anxious, they said no.  No he wasn’t nervous his teacher said.  Hmm.

I told Fred’s parents.  I restated to Fred’s teacher.  I just said back to them the story they had just told me.  I told them about Fred and asked them what they thought.  After hearing Fred’s story again, did they think Fred might be behaving this way because he was suffering on the inside?  

We can’t give what we don’t have.  Asking Fred to come out and play so to speak, wasn’t something he had to give yet.

After treatment takes effect, then Fred will be able to pull his head out of his shirt and he will do it without being asked to.  It doesn’t do any good for Fred or anyone else to push him to do behavioral changes if he simply can’t.  Fred is not a pushmi-pullyu.  He has no spare brain to offer when the other is ill.

I told Fred’s father that I thought Fred was suffering inside.  Something in his father clicked.  He teared up and nodded and said “Yes!  He is suffering.”  That meant a lot to Dad.  To know that much about his son.  To know that what had confounded him for so long came from somewhere.  It had a name.  This thing might be treated.  Fred might suffer less.

Self-Care Tip #76 – If you don’t feel good, think about your brain.  Be a friend to yourself.

Question: Do you every feel like you expect yourself to give what you don’t have?  Please tell me your story.