This tale may sound like a modern fairly tale — an allegory, a metaphor – but it’s a true story that I see play out in therapy time and time again, and it is the reason self-care is the REAL secret to happiness:
Once upon a time there was a girl named Elizabeth. Her busy parents had little time to care for her, or for themselves, and she left adolescence sad, mad, angry, not knowing who she was or what she wanted. Her parents hadn’t cared for her as she wished, and so she expected other people to make her feel what she wanted to feel – a man to make her happy, a boss to make her feel important, and her mother to make her feel special.
She hadn’t a clue what her needs really were or how to meet them. She would stay up, fueled up on caffeine and cigarettes, to meet the irrational demands
of her boss. She ignored the heartburn and heart palpitations she had, claiming she had no time to go to the doctor and hoping that her workaholism would be rewarded by a promotion. She ignored the snide comments her boyfriend made about her weight and his ogling other women, feeling that if she overlooked these behaviors and said nothing, he would love her forever and never leave.
Despite difficult weeks at work, she would spend her weekend running around doing her mother’s bidding, doing errands for her, running to Target, and as a treat to compensate for herself she would pick up a bag of Cheetos and a bottle of Smirnoff, so as to finally be the favorite daughter, the role she never had. In her mid thirties Elizabeth, and women like her, come into therapy tired, worn out, in poor physical health, and all because they have tried everything to get the love, admiration, and success that they so desperately wanted---everything, that is, but self-care. It never occurred to Elizabeth that the feelings and needs she so desperately wanted could be met by herself through self-care.
Now she does – and she has the apartment with a view of a park that she loves, a boyfriend who brings her joy, and a job that she loves waking up to every single morning. Or as Elizabeth explains, “It wasn’t until I started practicing dramatically different self-care, that I saw myself as worthy and not only did my life improve, but so did my relationships. You attract what you think you deserve. People treat you as good as you treat yourself.”
When I got into practice as as a therapist, I began to see that the way forward for almost every patient’s problem (from depression and anxiety to codependency, low self-esteem, and unhealthy relationships) began with better self-care, but few of my patients had ever been taught how to do it either. A light bulb went off for me -- and I realized that we are a nation that doesn't know how to take care of ourselves because no one ever showed us how to do it. We love our gurus who show us how to be perfect at things like dieting, exercise and balancing a checkbook -- but we need someone to show us how to take care of ourselves every day, in every realm, in the grey areas when perfection isn't ever gonna’ happen.
This is where my new book comes in, An Invitation to Self-Care: Why Learning to Nurture Yourself Is the Key to the Life You've Always Wanted, 7 Principles for Abundant Living! This book is the first-ever holistic look at self-care across every area of your life. In my new book, I look into why we don’t engage in self-care and how to truly; finally, and absolutely take care of yourself in every area of your life. Mileage may vary, but odds are very good that when you start improving your self-care that you will dramatically improve every area of your life and the relationships you have with other people.
I can’t wait to share this book with you. Sadly it is not available until 4/4/17; however, it is available for pre-order now. To get ready for the book launch, I am going to be sharing lots here on the topic self-care. I look forward to going on this journey of self-care with you.
Take good care of you!