At lot of good things start with ‘Self’ ..
Self acceptance . Self belief . Self care . Self compassion . Self confidence . Self esteem, Self love . Self worth . Self respect . Self expression
Another great post by Elizabeth Gilbert. This time about self care, self compassion and self love. (I so wish I could write like her!).
Be gentle with yourself today, take the time to stop and smell the roses. Often we spend our whole lives pushing ourselves and stressing ourselves. I tried to ‘push’ myself to heal and figured out the hard way that it doesn’t work like that. It takes all the time it needs.
I am now kind and gentle on myself and take my life one day at a time. I ‘go with the flow’.. and do what I need for myself on any given day whether it’s a warm bath, a walk, a lay down in the sun.. I also do what I love and what feeds my soul every day. And from this I find I am less stressed and more available, kind and compassionate to others.
Slow down today and be kind and compassionate to yourself.
Love & baby steps.
Dear Ones –
A life has been entrusted to you. That life is your own. Please treat it with tenderness.
Whether you think that your life was given to you by God, or whether you think that your life was given to you by random accident, it doesn’t really matter. One way or another, the end result is the same: you are here now, and you have been given stewardship over one fragile human existence.
I think we forget this sometimes — that we have been entrusted with a life to protect, and that this life is our own…and that we should be gentle and respectful of valuable things that are entrusted into our care.
When we forget that truth, we treat ourselves horribly
You know what I mean, right? It not just me who does this…it’s all of us.
We are simply terrible to ourselves sometimes. We say awful things about ourselves. We punish our bodies. We put ourselves into dreadful circumstances, and then refuse to leave. We inflict miseries upon ourselves that we would never inflict on another person or animal. We allow ourselves to be abused, or sometimes we practice ritualistic self-abuse. We force ourselves to work until we almost collapse from exhaustion. We deny ourselves sleep and care and healthy food and sunlight. We sabotage our good opportunities, and keep returning to our most harmful behaviors and addictions. We refuse ourselves pleasures, believing that we are unworthy of peace or contentment. We surround ourselves with things and people that are unhealthy and demeaning. We never forgive ourselves for our frailties and fears and mistakes. We fill our minds with shameful words — about how disgraceful we are, how pathetic, how lazy, how stupid, how fat, how ugly, what a failure, what an idiot, what a loser, what a coward, and why can’t you get it together?
Here is my question: Why would you treat any life so terribly, if that life had been entrusted into your care?
Imagine this: Imagine adopting an animal from the rescue shelter, and then treating it as dreadfully as you sometimes treat yourself. Imagine calling that poor animal names. Imagine forcing it to stay in dangerous, toxic, or degrading situations. Imagine starving it, or cutting it, or making it binge eat and then forcing it to vomit. Imagine refusing to take it outside to see the sun. Denying it sleep or healthy exercise. Forcing it to consume substances that damage its health horribly. Putting it in the company of abusive people, who insult and degrade it. Working it half to death. Blaming it for everything. Yelling at it. Forgiving it for nothing. Denying it grace and love.
You would never. I know you. You would never do this to another life form. And yet you do it to yourself.
Sometimes, when I catch myself feeling unloveable or self-abusing, I try to imagine that I am an animal, adopted from the humane society, who has been placed into my own care. Maybe an animal that some bad things have happened to. Maybe an animal that is anxious and confused. Maybe an animal that has been wounded. Maybe an animal that is lost.
What does that animal need and deserve? Healthy food, a warm place to sleep, a safe place of shelter, tender affections, plenty of walks in the sunshine. Kindness. Tenderness. Patience.
Can you try to see yourself as an animal in need of rescue? And can you offer yourself that rescue? Can you try to see that you, too, are a simple mammal, born innocent, deserving of tenderness, needful of love, fearful of pain? Can you reach out to yourself with gentleness — as if you were that cat or dog who had been caged for far too long?
I know that you are all good people, trying hard to become better people. We all are good people over here. Maybe some bad shit has happened to you. And almost certainly, you have done some bad shit yourself (who hasn’t?) but you wouldn’t be visiting this page with the rest of us every day if you were not essentially a good person, trying hard to be a better person. I know what you long for: You want to bring deeper compassion to this troubled world. You want to be more kind, more generous, more trustworthy, wholehearted. You want to be nice and fair and warm to people.
And yet, still you believe you are entitled to abuse yourself — this one life form that is nearest to you, this only life that you can save with your own two hands.
If you say to me, “But it’s so much easier to love a defenseless animal than it is to love a human being,” then I will say to you: “Don’t forget that every human being was born a defenseless animal. Even you.”
If you say to me, “But it’s so much easier to love others than it is to love myself,” then I will say to you: “What do you think you are, if not one of us — if not one of the ‘others’? Why do you hold yourself separate from the rest of the world, as if you are an exceptional case? Is it because you think you are worse than the rest of us? Is it because you think you are better?”
We are all alike here. None of us are born worse or better than the others. In essence, we are all exactly the same. You are exactly like me, and I am exactly like you, and both of us are exactly like every stranger on the street. I am, as the Talking Heads once sang, “just an animal, looking for a home.” So are you. So is everyone. Nothing less, nothing more.
Can you become a safe home for yourself? Can you give your poor inner animal some loving care?
You want to practice goodness. Well, conveniently, there is somebody with you 24 hours a day, upon whom you can begin to practice your goodness and your kindness and your compassion — and that person is yourself.
Be kind to you, then. Put down the knife that you have been holding to your own throat. Stop beating up upon the poor animal that you are. Take the chains off. Open the door of the cage you’ve been forcing yourself to live in. Bring yourself out of the cold. Allow yourself the comfort of the warm blanket at the end of the couch. Protect yourself from those who injure you — yourself, most of all. The punishment ends today. Coax yourself forward, and say to the life that you have been entrusted with: “It’s OK. I’m here now. I will take care of you now. I’m sorry if I ever hurt you. I didn’t know that you were just a defenseless animal, deserving of care. Now I do know.”
You have to learn to speak to yourself with fundamental kindness, because SOMEBODY HAS TO. Even if you are lucky enough have people in your life who are kind to you, that is not quite enough. You must also practice self-kindness. Because other people’s love and sweetness is not enough to save the troubled and anxious animal who lives within you. Because nobody else (except you) can reach down into your heart as deep as it goes, and offer it the specific tenderness it most needs.
As the writer and editor Sahaj Kohli once wrote: “The fact that someone else loves you doesn’t rescue you from the project of loving yourself.”
You can do this. Please believe me. You can take on this project — the project of learning how to love your poor, tired self. But you can only do it if you can learn see yourself as worthy of love — just like the rest of us. Like the poor, tired, born-innocent animal that you are.
And slowly — as it learns that it can trust you — the animal that you are will grow stronger, more confident, more loving. Then it will teach you how to truly love others, and how to be loved by others. Because you cannot offer wholehearted love to the world if you do not also practice it on yourself.
I believe this, more than anything. You must learn how to be kind to yourself. You can learn this — I am certain of it.
Because the guardians of the universe would not have put such a fragile and precious life in your hands, if they did not think that you could eventually be trusted to care for it with infinite tenderness.
Be good to you.
A lack of self-compassion can have a huge impact on self-care and recovery from PTSD. A lack of self-compassion may decrease motivation to continue through those difficult moments in treatment. It may increase feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A lack of self-compassion can also bring about strong feelings of shame, which may lead you to not adequately care for yourself. In fact, low self-compassion may increase the likelihood that you engage in self-destructive or punishing behaviors, such as self-injury. Self-compassion can be difficult to increase; however, it is very important to do so and is a major part of good self-care. This article provides some strategies for fostering a stronger sense of self-compassion.More »
When people are not taking adequate care of themselves, they may be more likely to isolate or avoid activities that they used to enjoy. Not surprisingly, this can have a major impact on a person’s mood, further increasing the desire to avoid and isolate. Part of taking good care of yourself is making sure you stay active and in touch with activities and relationships that you enjoy and find rewarding. One way to do this is through behavioral activation. This article takes you through a series of steps that will help you increase the number of positive activities that you engage in on a daily basis. More »
Many people with PTSD may suffer from low self-esteem. The symptoms of PTSD can be very difficult to cope with. In addition, many people with PTSD also experience other difficulties, such as depression. Due to these difficulties, people with PTSD may experience negative thoughts about themselves, resulting in low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness. Therefore, it is very important to learn how to catch these thoughts and combat them with positive thoughts. In doing so, you can serve as your own source of social support. More »
Getting enough sleep is a major part of increasing your self-care. Getting adequate sleep can have a major effect on your mood, energy, ability to problem-solve and think clearly, and physical health. Unfortunately, many people with PTSD experience significant problems with sleeping. This article presents some basic coping strategies that may help improve your sleep. More »
Although we may not think much about it, exercise, our diet, and the amount of sleep we get are all very important aspects of self-care, and self-care is incredibly important to our emotional health. A major effect of poor self-care is that it can “muddy” or “cloud” our emotions. When we are tired, hungry, overly stressed out, or in bad physical shape, we may be more reactive or have stronger emotions. There are a number of ways to improve self-care and reduce the occurrence of cloudy emotions. Some activities that can help you improve your self-care (and your emotional health) are described in this article. More »
Uncomfortable and stressful emotions are common among people with PTSD. Many of these emotions (shame, anger, guilt) can be particularly difficult to sit with. Self-soothing coping strategies can be particularly helpful for these emotions, as they are focused on caring for yourself and treating yourself in a compassionate manner. Effective self-soothing coping strategies may be those that involve one or more of the five senses (touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound). Learn some examples of self-soothing strategies for each sense. This article presents some common self-soothing coping strategies that may be particularly helpful for someone with PTSD. More »
The majority of people who read my blog have been wounded in some form or another (neglect, trauma, sexual, emotional/ psychological or physical abuse). All abuse is equal and damaging no matter what its form.
Often the trauma or abuse originated in early childhood (even if you can’t remember any serious abuse from your immediate family – remember you can’t consciously remember what happened to you or who hurt you when you were very little) … and often very traumatic events are stored differently (very deeply) as a survival mechanism.
I found out at 45 that there were huge secrets in my family. I got regressed after years of chronic ill health and depression and finally answers came up that made sense.
I had always wondered why I was ‘different’.. why I suffered from childhood depression, why I was a little ‘space cadet’ (dissociative) and why I was so creative and intuitive (hyervigilant) and not particularly logical. Life had been extremely hard.
Early childhood abuse sets us up… it sets us up for more abuse throughout our lives. It sets us up for choosing unhealthy partners and friends and it is the major cause of mental illness. It’s also causes unhealthy coping mechanisms and addictions.
Today I have a message for those of you healing from abuse, trauma, neglect and the extreme stress and mental illness associated..
Be kind to yourself, because you are amazing
Be gentle on yourself where others haven’t been – because you are an exquisite soul
Accept yourself.. whether you are creative, shy, anxious, lonely…. a cutter, an overeater, an alcoholic, an anorexic…
Acknowledge your pain and emotions. It is not a sign of strength to repress your feelings.
Love yourself first, every inch of you because you deserve love (your own first) and love that doesn’t hurt.
Remember you have been through enough stress and pain in your life, don’t add to it – No more unloving thoughts directed at yourself.
Accept this present moment – you are doing the best you can healing in a process that takes time, baby steps and courage. You deserve kudos and respect – your own first.
Don’t push yourself, rest if you need to, cry if you need to, create an environment that works for you, write your heart out if you need to, soothe your soul if you need to..
Just remember the exquisite soul you are and treat yourself accordingly.