We have all heard the Golden Rule, “Treat others as you would want them to treat you.” What about how we treat ourselves? How are we treating ourselves in comparison to how we want others to treat us? The negative self-talk is usually crueler than what others would say to us. What about self-care? Are we taking as good of care of ourselves as we have others? As we learn to be kind and care for ourselves, we become better people who have more to give others.
This appears to be a tough one for many people, me as well.
As I was home-bound for five years from one of my Lyme Disease health crashes, I got to know myself better. I could see that I wanted others to treat me better. It took me a while to see that I first needed to treat myself with better self-talk and self-care. Not in a selfish sense, nothing like that at all. More of a sense of dignity and self-worth so I had more to give others.
That is a difficult change to make, especially while laying in bed feeling helpless from illness and a lifetime of trauma haunting my thought life.
One step at a time! Have you ever been asked the question, “how do you eat an elephant?” The answer is one bite at a time. As adults, we have so many things ingrained in us that we have a hard time moving away from the unhealthy patterns of our lives.
I refuse to accept, “we are who we are.” Okay, maybe in some ways there is truth to that. Yet in many ways, we all have used it as an excuse not to do the hard work necessary to make the change that will bring us more full and invigorating lives.
Start with ourselves
We have to start with ourselves, not others. A great place to start is our perception as to how others “should” treat us. Are we treating ourselves with that same level of respect, honor, and dignity? If not, why?
This is where trauma in our lives makes this process tricky. By the sheer fact that we have had to succumb to events outside of our control, we have been sent messages that devalue who we are as a human being. For some of us, that can become programmed thinking.
Realize our own thinking
The realization that our own thinking is sometimes worse than what the general population is saying about us. There will always be cruel people and naysayers in the world. I am not talking about them. At some point, we have to stop caring what they think.
Care about what we think about ourselves. What do you say to yourself when you lose patience or do something embarrassing? What do you say to yourself as you walk past a mirror? What are the conversations in your head about interactions with others? How cruel do you become towards yourself when you are not meeting your life goals fast enough?
There are many ways to move through this. One way is to start taking better care of yourself, however that looks for you.
When I was home-bound for those 5 long years, I finally started taking better care of myself. Long warm relaxing detox baths calmed my soul. I ate better, took my medicine like I was supposed to, worked on sleeping better and getting quality rest for my body to heal. I gave up a grungy huge man’s t-shirt to sleep in for a feminine nightgown. It made me feel more human. Gave me an ounce of dignity that boosted my spirits.
As I moved through taking better care of myself by showing myself dignity and respect, I started becoming more aware of my self-talk. Interestingly, most of it was what others had said to me over my lifetime. Things I actually did not believe in about myself but had accepted as truth and taken on as reality.
Wow!! That is when my thought life started getting cleaned up. Little by little, I was able to take better care of myself in every way. As I worked my way through this, I saw that I am nothing that others have tried to make me by the abuse and disrespect. I was finally ready to be me.
None of us can change what others have done to us. Getting stuck in victimization gets us nowhere. There is a time for feeling the pain, grieving the loss and then at some point finding ourselves again. Some people travel this journey easier than others. We are all so incredibly unique.
When I allowed myself to simply move through it instead of getting stuck in my head and all the garbage, I became a happier soul. I am nowhere close to being done with this journey. I do not imagine it will end in my lifetime. One bite at a time!
Utterly amazed at what a person can endure and recover from. It is worth the hard work to walk this particular journey.
Seek help when needed
Seek out help if you feel you need it. Don’t hesitate to end a counseling relationship if you feel you are being harmed instead of helped. There are many caring qualified counselors. Keep looking until you find the right match.
Be amazed at how we can light up our lives by being kind and caring for ourselves. That cannot help to spill over on to others.
What are the things you do to remind yourself that you are worthy of kind self-talk and self-care?
Maribeth Baxter, MBEC
Donations are accepted to serve others on their chronic illness journey. Maribeth Baxter, MBEC provides voluntary certified health coaching services to the financially limited during their time of crisis.