Note: If you find yourself feeling uncomfortable while reading this, remind yourself that uneasiness can signal a positive change; in fact, the greater the discomfort, the bigger and better the coming change.
Instead of turning away, I encourage you to do the opposite: mark the ones you like the least, choose the worst one of those and dive into the “Step by Step” below.
- You find yourself pushing to do just a little more of what you do not want to be doing, and then a little more after that, and…
2. You become angry at yourself when you make mistakes.
3. You are critical of your decisions, your behavior and parts of your body too; in general, you do not say nice things to yourself, but you say lots of the other kind.
4. You put off eating, urinating and other important needs.
5. You have a tendency to put others first.
6. You find it difficult to speak up for yourself.
7. You make some personal decisions NOT based on your likes and dislikes, NOT based on your needs and desires but on the hope of getting someone’s attention or approval.
8. Your plants struggle from a lack of attention; you do not clean your pet’s dishes and sleeping area very often.
9. You do not see a way to make your dreams happen, or you do not have dreams.
10. You wish you could live your life your way.
The following is for those who have trouble with number four, and it is a good illustration for the others too.
- How long do you suffer with that headache, tooth or earache before seeking relief?
- How long do you put up with that annoying drip in the sink, the rug you keep tripping over and that problem with the microwave?
- Are you still wearing those ill-fitting pants, putting up with that noise in the car and struggling in the dark because of that same broken light?
In general, those who give themselves little have little to give others, and of course their own lives are more difficult too. The first step to changing every one of the 10 Signs is to realize that self-care is not something extra, not something for when you have time. It is absolutely vital!
Step By Step
A. Start by letting any lack of self-care be okay (and not something else to hit yourself with. Letter D below can help with this). A universal truth is that you have always done the best you can, just as you are right now—always.
B. Next, give yourself permission to feel uncomfortable: strangely enough, stepping up to give yourself more care can feel somewhere between slightly irritating and very painful; but, after awhile, these feelings weaken and disappear. You can disappear them faster by letting yourself experience whatever emotional discomfort comes up.
C. Now, choose one of the 10 signs; make it the one that brings up the most negative feelings OR the one you just want more of in your life.
D. Whenever you find yourself NOT caring for you in that way, take a deep breath and release the tension in your body. On each out-breath continue to let go and relax.
E. In this calmer, relaxed state, you will find that choosing self-care is easier. As you begin to act, continue breathing and letting go.
F. In the beginning, there can be a gap between deciding to act and actually doing it; if you find this to be true, focus on acting sooner, rather than immediately, and continue reminding yourself that you are doing the best you can.
G. Keep a record: write the change you want at the top; make a mark each time you act (along with any thoughts you have about doing it sooner or better); and total them daily, weekly and monthly.
H. If there are times when you just cannot act: breathe and relax; let those times be okay, they are part of the process. Do not keep track of them, except for notes on how to do better.
I. After working with the first one awhile, choose a second Way to increase your self-care.
This is the harsh truth: there is only person on the planet who has been assigned the job of caring for you; and there is nobody that can do it as well as you—nor is there anybody else truly interested.
Support yourself by writing the following in big letters and posting it in easy view: My care and happiness are completely up to me! It has always been this way. It will always be this way.
And make self-care a life-long process, because it is what you (and those in your life) deserve.
Daniel Speraw: I began writing in 1982 with a nationally-syndicated newspaper column and have written 9 books—all on self-growth; I currently have 2500 followers on Twitter (@DanielSperaw); and on my blog you can find “Let OTHERS Build YOUR Self-Esteem” at this link: http://bit.ly/EsteemForYou