Self Care 3.0

Self Care 3.0

 

This is the third in a series on the topic.  Return to the first post here

We’ve established the core issue: self love, and we’ve laid the foundation for the work.  So what’s next?  This series emerged largely from a recent discussion with a friend.  About halfway through the conversation she exclaimed – and all this comes from just trying to take better care of yourself?!  Yes.  It’s complicated.  As she reflected on the poor unsuspecting client who shows up for that first appointment thinking they just need to come up with a better self care plan, she declared that this process ought to come with warning labels!  Consider this post the caution tape that surrounds a work in progress 🙂

Think about an important loved one in your life right now.  When they first appeared, did you have any idea you would love them as you do right now?  I imagine when you first met, there was an extensive process of getting to know them.  Would it be possible to love this person the way you do without knowing them as you do?  Probably not.  Likewise, the first step in this process is getting to know yourself.  The person God created you to be, not just who others need you to be.  Eugene Peterson said, “we are not ourselves, by ourselves”.  That quote captures the importance of our ‘others’ on this journey.  If we are to know ourselves, we need mirrors, but we must seek out objective mirrors.  Many of the people in our lives can be like that carnival house of mirrors – each one offering their own distorted reflection rooted in what they need and want from us.  Hence why we must have reflectors who don’t have a dog in the fight – who can tell us what they see in us without agenda.  We still elicit data from our full community, but we bring it all back to the objective other who can help us evaluate and discern how much of the reflection is us and how much is the bend of the mirror.

Personally, I have found it helpful to reflect on my childhood.  In particular, I try to remember simple moments I spent alone in my own thoughts or in non-directed activity, just being a child and not the manifestation of what adults required of me.  Those recollections have been invaluable in showing me my true heart…the unique characteristics God placed within me that got buried over the years by life circumstances.  There are aspects of this process that are really fun.  Remember what it was like when you first met your best friend and who they are was unfolding before you?  If you go into this process with an open mind and genuine curiosity, this can be the same.  However, it isn’t all fun and games.  There are aspects of you that aren’t so fun to uncover.  Our shadow selves…the parts that shame forced us to bury?  This is an example of how the truth hurts sometimes but there is a difference between hurt and harm.  Pain is usually a necessary component of growth.  What should we do when we have to have a medical procedure done?  We prepare as best we can by completing tasks ahead of time we know we won’t have the capacity to do.  We line up support whether it is transportation, meals or help with chores.  We accept the pain as part of the process – we don’t jump off the bed, pack our bags and go home.  We realize that would be ten times worse.  Afterward, we follow the doctor’s orders, we rest, we go to physical therapy (more pain) and we do the work necessary for recovery.  The process (done properly) – as painful as it is – does not harm us.  It does just the opposite.  It heals us.  Learning to love ourselves is exactly the same!  We get to discover the good, bad and ugly parts of ourselves so that we can celebrate the good, take away the power from our shadow and tenderly care for the ugly so that it can heal.

The other difficult component is the grieving process that begins when we start to see the canyon lying between who we were created to be and the ‘personas’ we created over the years to get through life.  Or…perhaps we’ve been living out a true self but only a small slice of who we are because we figured out the other parts wouldn’t be accepted.  As we look back at decisions, choices and relationships that were lived out from this other place – the assessment can jack up our lives.  We may deny it all at first.  It’s all too much to accept: This dissonance between the me I am discovering and how I’ve actually lived.  Many of us abandon the journey at this stage.  We’re not ready.  Or, perhaps we try to embrace the authentic self without dismantling the masks we so carefully crafted.  This doesn’t work and sooner or later a choice is forced.  Author Mark Buchanan says, “Things that are meant to be must first plunder and displace things that are.”  There is no room for both.  Plunder –  steal goods from (a place or person), typically using force and in a time of war or civil disorder.  This process becomes a civil war in many ways.  Anger at all those who forced their agendas on you and/or anger at self for allowing this, emerges and demands your attention.   The underlying fear and hurt must be processed.  Deep sadness settles in as the old, the untrue, the ‘no longer functional but all I know’ is put to death.  Finally, grace prevails when we stick it out.  Light appears at the end of the tunnel and acceptance begins to dawn as we embrace our authentic self and begin to appreciate the complexity and value of who we are as image bearers of our Creator.  The pain is all so worth it!

There is a parallel venture happening as we focus on knowing and loving self.  In the final post of this series, we will look at that simultaneous battle and how it necessarily supports the first.

You’ve read the warnings but you believe you’re ready for the journey?  Consider contacting us to share your interest in a therapy group related to this topic!

 

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