Radical Self-Care. Radical reevaluation of what serves us moving forward. Radical compassion for ourselves. This is when we begin to ask ourselves and need to take actions to prove to ourselves that we are worth the effort, discipline, and determination to recover. We need to tell ourselves we deserve better because we do deserve better.
After we have been laid bare and have had such deep direct suffering we can consider this a type of reawakening. An opportunity for a transformation. We have been set on a path. The veil and fog have lifted. This is our opportunity to discover who we are.
We have two choices. Reawaken from the fog of denial, fantasy, distortion, and fear or go back to sleep. In the end, we choose. This is our opportunity to begin to truly care for ourselves. This is a process. It takes time, but the time to start is now.
Initially, the process involves turning our attention towards our dulled sense of protection for ourselves. We may have lost or numbed our protective instincts over time after long exposure to the manipulations of an abuser. This sense of protection needs to be brought back into balance. This is like a scale that has tipped way over or a compass that is spinning without direction. Finding our sense of self-preservation and protection, finding our protective boundary lines – all this needs to be firmly reinstated.
We may consider investigating and gaining insights into our patterns, habits, and choices. This is difficult work. It is not fun. Turning inwards towards all the parts of ourselves can be very difficult work. Self-care is not just about getting massages or pedicures. Self-care requires us to examine many things about the small choices in our daily lives:
- Are we limiting social media usage that may be making us feel worse? Are we comparing ourselves to others? Are we limiting our repeated exposure to negative news?
- Are we breathing fresh air and getting exercise? We can take a walk outside without the distraction of our phone. Full attention and awareness on the nature and beauty all around us.
- Are we doing for others? This may seem counterintuitive, but volunteer work is a great way to support others and to actually help ourselves feel better.
- Are we ruminating and spending a lot of time in our heads replaying negative stories with no steps towards problem solving?
- Do we have healthy boundaries? Do we know how to preserve our precious time for ourselves OR fill our time with meaningful, restorative activities with family and friends?
- Do we feel stuck because we are not taking the necessary steps to move ourselves forward?
- Do we have long and short term goals that are aligned with our integrity and purpose? Do we have a time-line? An accountability buddy?
Boundary setting and the ability to see ourselves as having control over our lives through small changes is related to resiliency and recovery. Seeing ourselves take action and take small steps build our beliefs in ourselves. We do have control over the choices we make everyday. We can slowly move ourselves out of darkness into the light.
- Spend weekly quality time with a close, trusted friend or family member. In person.
- A counselor or expert mentor.
- Sit quietly and try to mindfully breath. Two minutes is a great start.
- Spend time in a gentle exercise class on a weekly basis. Yoga was an integral part of my healing.
- Spend some time outside in nature. Set an intention to look for one thing that you can appreciate on your walk. Write down what you notice.
- Don’t isolate yourself.
- Reach out and push yourself to do one thing alone.
- Go to different locations. This is not a time to reminisce and idealize.
- Notice the kindness of others towards you. Write down these kind actions.
- Engage with friends, co-workers, and family who are calm and supportive. Keep your distance from friends and family who stir up drama and chaos.
- Bring some kindness to your emotions and to how you feel. You can acknowledge these feelings. Don’t resist them or push them down. You can turn gently towards your difficult feelings. Avoid unhealthy ways of coping.
Consider the quality of the things you choose to bring into your body, your mind, and all of your senses. There may be a quality of familiarity with chaos, with noise, and with distractions. We may have to slowly wean ourselves off of this chaos and become more familiar with things that bring calm and peace.
All my warmest wishes to you on your healing journey.