Guilt-Free Self Care

Guilt-Free Self Care

"There is an old and outdated perception that taking care of your needs first equals being self-centered."

Interesting article and the bit that stands out for me is the phrase above.

A lot of us feel guilty about being self-centered. Or another thing people worry about is being Selfish. They get all anxious about doing something for themselves.

Do you find yourself caught up in this cycle of selfishness and guilt? You want to do something for yourself or even give yourself a teensy little treat, and WHAM! the a wash of Guilt with a Capital G hits you from inside out, and you can't even enjoy your treat.

An important question is, where did this idea and fear of selfishness come from? At what point in your life did self-care become associated with guilt?

Another important question is, what exactly do you mean by selfishness? Do you mean option A) look out for number 1, let the whole world burn, or B) I need to care for myself TOO so I can care for others?

I find that most people confuse A) and B) and that is one of the reasons they feel guilty about taking care of themselves. And then like the author of this article wrote, they develop a martyr type mindset where the more one suffers, the better person one is supposed to be.

We really are slaves to our ideas aren't we?

Anyhow, when I've floated these questions to my clients, they often come up with some really interesting things:

1) They learnt to criticize themselves (this is called taking it in and developing an Inner Critic) for being "selfish"by the people who matter to them.

2) The somehow pick up the idea (from significant people in their lives or from the whole socio-cultural environment) A) = B).

3) They've developed, through rough life experiences, an emotional part that is more than self-critical, but self-punitive. It's like they're punishing themselves pre-emptively for some crime/ offense/ sin that they might commit in the future. For someone who has a strong emotional part like this, the idea of self-care is really, REALLY antithetical.

4) Some people develop another emotional part (which is quite anxious and can be called in some forms of Therapy - The Coach or might be called Unrelenting Standards). This part says self-care comes with conditions. You can only treat yourself to something IF you've met this, that or some other condition. The trap? The conditions are usually shifting goal-posts.

Usually for some of my clients, The Coach exists as a defense mechanism against getting carried away. It contains the anxiety or fear that if you get a little bit of slack, then you might backslide or get carried away. Chaos and a life of iniquity would ensue.

It is typically built on a foundation of not trusting yourself. (This distrust of yourself, in line with my recent writing theme on "Loss of Self", is itself a form of losing oneself =) )

So consider, what are some of YOUR emotional parts that are in play that makes Self-care painful or difficult?


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