Self-Care is the Best Care
Caroline Smith, MS, LPC, CSAT-S, CMAT-S
Director of Pine Grove’s Intensive Workshops
Sustained recovery requires us to move from unconscious bargains with suffering into a new conscious covenant with the authentic-self.
As the wise 13th century Poet Rumi wrote, “Whatever you want, ask it of yourself; whatever you’re looking for can only be found inside of you.”
Unfortunately, people often confuse the recovery tool of self-compassion and self-care with the mistaken idea that it’s selfish to do so. This is a great example of “head trash,” otherwise known as cognitive distortion. Focused self-care is the gift we give to those we love; codependent relationships, its antithesis.
Ideas for a Self-care Summer:
What first comes to your mind when you think of summer time during your childhood? When I asked this question to a variety of individuals, these are the words they used to describe their childhood summer time memories:
Heat, humidity, watermelon, gnats, tanning oil, swimming lessons, humidity, mosquitoes, the smell of fresh cut grass, school freedom, homemade ice-cream, thunder in the distance, humidity, cold fresh lemonade, home grown fruits and vegetables, old canvas tents, musty sleeping bags, scary campfire stories, tangled fishing lines, ticks, lightening bugs, and humidity.
Hopefully, summer is a time when you can slow down, take things a bit more leisurely and enjoy extra time with family and loved ones. But what do you do if spending that additional time with loved ones triggers old stressful conflicts?
Try this…take a summer vacation from timeworn hurtful patterns by exploring some new internal territory. Your mind is very powerful; it can either help you or harm you. Summer is a great time of the year to personally reflect, refocus and rejuvenate. Since the best relationship ability is availability, let this be the season you become more available to your own amazing authentic self. Give yourself a vacation from relationship woe and worry.
Healthy love is deep, quiet and constant, not dramatic, chaotic and dysfunctional. Likewise, self-love is deep, quiet and constant. Living in the sweet-spot of secure attachment is an inside job; here are my five self-care strategies:
- Stop looking for other people’s approval. Actually, what other people think of you is none of your concern; what you think of yourself matters most.
- Stop feeling responsible for the happiness of others. Likewise, stop holding others responsible for your happiness. All adults are 100% responsible for their own thoughts and feelings. A prerequisite for happiness requires identifying one’s own personal needs and desires and then making decisions based on that awareness.
- Stop mentally tormenting yourself by entertaining “if only” ruminations about the past or “what if” thoughts about the future. Focused attention to our five senses supports staying present and connected to the here and now. Monitoring the content of our thoughts redirects our energy and empowers our successes. Where our focus goes our energy flows.
- Stop spending time with people who have agreed to live a life of negativity, criticism, blame, and unhappiness. The emotional well-being of those individuals we surround ourselves with does have a direct impact on our own emotional health. Remember that suffering is inevitable but misery is optional. Negativity is the enemy of creativity and abundance. We have the right to limit exposure to life draining emotional toxins.
- Stop mentally tormenting yourself by believing the lie that your worth and value is based on what you do, what you have, how you look, how old you are, what size you wear or by any other type of comparisons. To compare is to despair. All humans have equal intrinsic worth and value from the moment of birth up until the last breath taken. This innate value has nothing to do with our choices. Behaviors do not determine our value. However, our choices do provide consequences and therefore warrant our sincerest evaluation. We are always equal to everyone else on the planet.
Self-care, secure attachment and sustainable recovery don’t just happen by default, this takes gentle self-compassion and fierce intentional courage.
Accept yourself, affirm yourself, forgive yourself, protect yourself, and enjoy yourself.
Happy Self-Care Summer!
Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services is an extension of Forrest General Hospital, located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Pine Grove’s world renowned programs focus on treating gender specific chemical addiction including a specialized track for co-occurring eating disorders. Additionally, Pine Grove offers a focused substance abuse healing program for adults age 55 and over. Other Pine Grove specialty programs include a dedicated professional’s treatment curriculum and a comprehensive evaluation center. Pine Grove also features a program for patients with sexual and intimacy disorder issues. Pine Grove was established in 1984 and has provided nationally and internationally recognized health care for over 35 years.
Visit www.pinegrovetreatment.com or call 1-888-574-HOPE (4673) for more information.