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The "Insanity" of Self Care.....

Remember the old cliché? “Take care of yourself first or you will have nothing left to give others.” Or, “ we can’t give what we don’t have.” But what is self-care really? Why is it so difficult and why do we feel guilty about doing it?

We were all given this special house to live in 'our own body, mind and soul'. It is our responsibility to take good care of it and treat it with ultimate respect. It carries within our special gifts and talents that are uniquely ours. Self-care is about seeking and nurturing internal validation. It is finding the sweet child within and giving him or her soothing comfort, reassurance, and warm, loving thoughts and wishes. It is about taking care of the internal emotional side of our being and learning self-compassion.

Adult children of narcissistic parents and certainly many others too, were often told they were selfish as children. It is normal for children to express desires and wishes and many times stressed out parents, feeling their own guilt or issues will unwittingly put this label on a child. It is a destructive move for the child because we optimally want to encourage children to have a voice and speak their feelings. This is how they develop a sense of self.

There is a difference between self-absorbed, narcissistic behavior and sound internal self-care. Self-care is about taking good care of our own feelings so we don’t project them onto others, act badly, or cause problems in relationships. Being in touch with our own feelings and embracing them is the healthiest thing we can do.

How many times have you heard a misrepresentation of self-care? Yes, I am taking care of myself. “ I just bought a great pair of shoes!” “ I just went on an awesome vacation!” “ I just bought my first motorcycle!” While none of these are wrong and are another part of self-care, I am talking about embracing your inner child and doing some real parenting of that little kid. You are the only person who can do that!

If you grew up in an environment where your emotional needs were not met, or you were primarily taking care of your parents instead of the other way around, you have likely learned to be co-dependent and to take care of others to the exclusion of taking care of yourself. It is surprising, for example, how many adult children of narcissistic parents are working in the health care fields. Thank goodness, we need you, but learning self-care may be new to you and it is a process of re-parenting yourself.

Ask your inner child what he or she needs. Listen to that every day. This is really your intuitive side talking to you. Allow the feelings to be ok. When you make mistakes, talk to your inner child and calm him or her, while you also reassure. Tell the child it is ok and you will help make it better. When he or she tells you they are hungry, tired, hurt, sad, lonely… listen, care and do something to help that little one within. No one can do this for you.