Individuation - Our Self-Responsibility
Moving From Self Neglect Towards Self Nurture
Self-Responsibility - Building A Healthy Relationship With Ourself Exploring the way we talk to ourselves, our relationship with ourself may be important. When challenges occur we may blame ourself or others trying to make them responsible. And when we stop doing this, we can begin to take responsibility for our own life. We may hold on to a belief that somehow we are not enough, something, someone out there can make it right (see also Codependency (Co-Dependency) - Caretaking). If the truth is that other people are responsible for what happens inside of us, we will have to wait for others to change. Once it becomes clear to us that we are personally responsible for our own psychological needs, general wellbeing, thoughts, beliefs - especially those unhelpful ones, feelings, actions, behaviours, decisions, choices, reactions, pressures and willing to change any time we want, owning our own life as an individual, have a degree of independence, we are able to take charge of our life, empower ourselves, be autonomous, in our own authority, on our journey of individuation, anchored in our self, feel secure, supported by our values, conscience and personal integrity. Our resilience, personal boundaries support this, alongside our self-esteem, confidence & assertiveness. In every moment we can choose our response (see also Our Free Will, Free Spirit). We don't need to blame ourself when we take responsibility. Some of us may experience taking personal responsibility & accountability (e.g. for our choices, mistakes) as a chore or punishment, limiting our life, as if it has to be about being burdened, tied down or trapped, that things are our fault, having to do things right, having no fun and giving ourself up. We may abandon ourself, bury our heads in the sand, rather than take personal care of our self and ownership of our feelings, behaviours, inner continuity, coherence which helps influence our identity. Others may hold back, waiting for someone else to do something for them, or to change. (Some may struggle to grow up.) When we take responsibility it is a sign of our leadership. We can choose to respond to all our challenges in each moment - response-ability. And when we want to take full responsibility for our own wellbeing this means letting go of the fantasy that others will do this for us and include wanting to let go of the responsibility for others (see also Taking Emotional Responsibility For Others), no longer wanting to change them. Taking responsibility for ourself enhances our life and may include coming from our personal power and freedom to compassionately manage our pain, heal our past, be open to learning, make our own choices, speak up for ourself, choose our intent in each moment, bring ourself joy, take control of our self.
Life is a journey to be experienced, not a problem to be solved.A.A.Milne
Ways We Abandon Ourself Everyone at times has emotionally abandoned themselves - when we avoid pain rather than loving attend to our authentic feelings, including loneliness, heartbreak, helplessness. We may abandon ourself in one area, yet take responsibility in other areas (see also Abandoning Our Partner & Us In The Relationship). In a high maintenance relationship, we can isolate or abandon ourself relationally, organisationally, financially, physically - by not taking care of ourself & our body, feeling ungrounded - not anchored or inhabiting our body, having an unhealthy diet, emotionally - by being stuck in our head numbing our feelings, closing down or bypassing them and ignoring, denying or not expressing our feelings (or make others responsible for our feelings), sexually - e.g. by not expressing our sexuality or having unsafe sex or spiritually - by not taking personal responsibility for our own integrity, values, or taking time to nourish ourselves spiritually. Ways we can also abandon ourselves include not being on our own path, blindly following rules, loyalties, oaths, sacred cows, obligations, duties, taboos, being like a perfectionist, pleaser or fixer, judging ourself, becoming like a victim/martyr, over-defensive not speaking our truth or when our hooks or triggers become activated, allowing them to take us over, becoming low, depressed, compliant, angry or acquiring unhelpful habits or addictions. We may want to stay tuned to our body, feelings - welcoming them with compassion. When we abandon a part of us in specific ways, we may not only ignore, disrespect ourself, but also ignore the effect on others, who may also feel disrespected.
Experience is not what happens to you; it's what you do with what happens to you.Aldous Huxley
Self-Abandonment At some points when younger, we may have been without role models who loved us, touched, held us in the way we needed, felt abandoned. When we think about abandonment we may associate it to being left by someone. Abandonment can be about leaving someone we are responsible for, that we need to take care of, so when we feel abandoned now as an adult, it may be ourself we have abandoned. Caught in our own self-abandonment, as if somehow we are not a priority, we may also fear abandonment, rejection in our relationship. We may not only have abandoned us but also our partner (see also Isolating Us Or The Relationship). Some of us may lose who we are, regress to a younger age (where the neediness of a wounded part of us may be located) or have become very dependent on receiving approval, affirmation, reassurance, recognition, validation, appreciation, praise, permission & confirmation, attention. This ingrained inner abandonment can have the effect of feeling anxious (most of us have experienced being isolated, yet some of us isolate ourselves especially when overloaded with anxiety), have dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADD/ADHD, feel depressed, angry or ashamed, and this may be connected to our early life or wounds (isolating itself can be a recipe for depression, anxiety). People usually treat us in similar ways to how we treat us. Therefore if we are abandoning ourself and have given up (self-abandonment), we often experience abandonment by others. Some may have become so selfless that we become almost invisible to others who end up treating us the way we treat ourselves (e.g. what we ignore in us, so too may others ignore). We can live our lives as if somehow we are not enough. It can be as if we are imprisoned in a cell of our own making & shut down. Some may feel separate, unlovable, disconnected. We may choose to protect our self, and make ourself feel safe, so no one takes advantage of us or uses us, controls us, engulfs us, abandons us.
Closing Off Some of us can allow the wounded part of us to criticise, judge, control our thoughts & actions. We may fear or even believe we are incapable of handling painful feelings, so we can internalise our feelings, close off our heart, become cynical. We can often end up treating us or others in neglectful, damaging, blaming or hurtful ways. Our world may have become mundane. Struggling to lighten up, we may have lost our sense of humour, taking everything seriously. Unable to bear, tolerate, regulate or soothe this needy (maybe shameful) part of us, we may close off, shut down, become isolated.
Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.Mark Twain
Owning Our Own Helplessness When we were small, we were helpless over ourself. Helplessness as an adult is still painful, can give us intense turmoil, when we're unable to control the outcome of things (see also Control Issues, Controlling Behaviour In The Relationship). Feeling like a victim, martyr, experiencing learnt helplessness disempowers us yet when we own our helplessness from a different place - compassionately embracing it, fully accepting it, stepping through any disillusionment, this empowers us. Some of us may let circumstances, external factors and events (e.g. what happens in the world - the economy, our wealth, career, our health, our emotions, our past, present and future), other people & the state of our relationship, rule our life. And when we shift responsibility to someone or external factors, this renders us powerless, as if we have no control and nor may be how we remain grounded, secure in our own body. The counselling for helplessness can explore this further. On the one hand we can turn helplessness into an experience of loneliness, linked to depression or transform it into acceptance. We can feel powerless how others feel & behave and helpless over others being judgemental, rejecting, not seeing or valuing us (see also On The Receiving End Of Someone's Negative, Draining Energy - Our Initial Reactions). We can get others to take responsibility for our own feelings or choose to get angry, judge ourselves or others, rather than compassionately feel these uncomfortable feelings. Shaming & blaming ourself (or others) often compounds our sense of helplessness, as we abandon ourself. Our patience, acknowledgement of the reality of situations (rather than our "should's"), compassion for our own painful helplessness, that we are OK, may be in short supply. (Some have found the value of surrendering our helplessness over to the power of our religious faith, god, spirituality, consciousness, the universe, asking for our resistances to be transformed by acceptance, peace, love.) In certain situations accepting our helplessness or powerlessness (e.g. over outcomes, what isn't in our control, life's uncertainties, not knowing things, that painful feelings and suffering are a part of life at times, that we can't change others including our partner, that we can't enforce our boundaries onto them) yet remaining strong, grounded, centred, personally empowered, can be challenging. We can't protect ourselves from frustrations and certain feelings of helplessness. It can be uncomfortable yet releasing for us to let go of our righteousness, that at times it's OK to feel helpless (an aspect of our authentic core existential life feelings), even to shed tears at times, especially when in touch with our own wounds, strong vulnerability. It can be freeing when we accept ourselves through surrender, release and liberation, stay strong & powerful inside - our will intact, knowing that at times we are helpless to external factors and we are OK. This can inform our wisdom, as we take charge of our helplessness, so we help ourselves, take responsibility for what matters to us, hold hope, are in touch with our self and free will.
We can't go over it. We can't go under it. We can't go around it. Oh no! We've got to go through it!Michael Rosen & Helen Oxenbury
No Longer Abandoning Us When we are in a wounded place it may be because of our inner abandonment and we become empty inside, needy, anxious or stressed. Focusing on the love outside of us, we may have expected others to be our source of love, validate ourself. Turning our attention inwards, licking any wounds, accepting "what is", attending to our love needs, taking care of ourselves, no longer abandoning our inner child and learning how to let go may be exactly what we need (see also Self-Acceptance, Loving Ourselves Unconditionally). No longer abandoning ourself, who we are - our essence, being in touch with our intrinsic worth, validating ourselves, grounded and secure in our body, may now be important for us as may listening to ourself, asking for what we need. Our wounded self often believes we can't handle things & this part of us may take control, as we attempt to make others understand or connect with us. If we have abandoned who we are, we may have learnt to give to others by trying to please them or fix things, to control them, so they don't abandon us. As we notice our responses, we can manage our wounds, take personal responsibility rather than blame us or others, accompany ourselves, be emotionally freer, connected to a deeper sense of who we are, supporting our peace of mind. As we compassionately experience & embrace all our authentic feelings - both positive & negative (rather than avoid them), open to learning to what our feelings are telling us, we are able to treat ourself differently, be consciously willing to release feelings, empower ourself. Our conscious intention can shift from that of protection against pain to willingness to learn & find new ways of managing our core, authentic, existential life feelings, pain & hurt, being present.
Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.Jean-Paul Sartre
Being Connected To Who We Are Many of us weren't loved in the way we needed to be (see Unmet Needs From Our Past), yet we can learn to do this. Some of us may struggle to define our self-worth or lovability. We may have low self-worth, or even believe we have no self-worth. Building our self-worth may be important for us. Anxious, low or despairing, we may make others responsible for our own uncomfortable feelings, for making us OK, which can end up disempowering us. We can do things in certain ways in an attempt to control how others feel about us, whether they accept or reject us. We may feel anxious, depressed, because we have neglected ourself or have not been who we are (self-neglect). If at some level we have abandoned & stopped caring for us, we may become lonely inside. We abandon us when we judge, discount or ignore our feelings. And when we disconnect from them, we can make others responsible to approve and accept us, which can lead to relationship difficulties. This can also happen if we don't speak up, abandoning who we are through resistance or compliance. Staying in touch with our self-acceptance, being true to who we are, grounded and secure in ourself, without giving ourself up to others, or expecting them to give themselves up to us, may be our challenge. A further challenge may be allowing us time to reflect, without distraction. A part of us may struggle to grow up. These self-abandonment issues can be included in counselling & psychotherapy.
Neglect Or Nurture Over time we may have learnt to take things for granted, not standing up for who we are, have an uncaring attitude or end up focusing on tasks which take us away from what's really important to us. Neglect especially compounded by our unhelpful habit or addictions may have an impact. Another form of self-neglect may be disrespecting our own human needs, values, conscience, integrity. And being in touch with our integrity we may want to nourish ourselves including spiritually - whatever this means for us. Being in touch with our own needs (helped by being in touch with our feelings), expressing our needs & getting our needs met can be challenging. As we treat ourself respectfully, we may notice changes in how others respond to us. The counselling & psychotherapy can support us in no longer neglecting ourself (some of which may have its roots in childhood), so we feel safe enough, look after our own psychological needs.
The truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid sufferingThomas Merton
the more you suffer because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you
in proportion to your fear of being hurt.
Self-Neglect We can neglect, disrespect (or sabotage) ourselves in different ways, even when we kid ourselves we are taking care of ourself. We may put things off. We may neglect ourself by being permanently late, disorganised, abandoning organising things properly, chaotic, without order or creating a mess around us and this may ripple into our relationship. We may shut down or withdraw, become isolated. Some may talk a lot - overshare their thoughts, feelings, as a way of avoiding being controlled, rejected or invaded. Others may remain stuck in our head, and not our whole body, or have closed down our heart, struggling to be loving to us and others. We can neglect what's important to us, our own power, our health, body and physical wellbeing, our activities & exercise, diet & nutrition, sleep, personal care - how we look after our appearance, personal cleanliness, our self-compassion, caring for ourself, our responsibility to ourself, our existence (that we are) and our essence - the heart and soul of what we are. We may not only have neglected ourself, but also neglected taking responsibility for our relationship, our friendships (see also Aloneness, Loneliness, Emptiness, Alienation), neglecting people who matter to us. Certain aspects of our life may have been neglected: our behaviour, our time, organising things, emotional life, sexual life, financial life (we may expect our partner to take responsibility for us in these areas, even if they feel uncomfortable doing so), our home environment, passions, interests, wellbeing, sense of community, personal reflection. We may have isolated or neglected an important aspect of our personality, feelings and emotions, mind and creativity, affectionate sexuality, spirituality.
Hoodwinking Ourself We Are Caring For Ourself As if certain things, objects, can make us happy, we (or rather our wounded self who may be seeking momentary, transient comfort) can convince ourself that we are taking loving care of ourself or pacifying our inner child by:
- Rewarding ourself with our treats of unhealthy foods, overdoing our wine or beer consumption (see also Unwanted Habits & Addictions Counselling London) in order to reduce our stress, even though they don't contribute to our health & wellbeing rather than occasionally enjoying these for our pleasure, social enjoyment and taking responsibility for our feelings
- Rewarding ourself by buying things we can't afford rather than buying something for the pleasure of it that we can afford, not in an addictive way out of stress
- Staying up late, even though we are tired or will be tired for the next day rather than going to bed early enough because our health & wellbeing are important for us
- Listening to others complaining because we want to be seen as a good person & not hurt others' feelings (see also The People Pleaser Or Pacifier - Addicted To Pleasing Others)
- Withdrawing when someone makes unreasonable demands on us without speaking up for ourself, giving clear limits in how we expect to be treated rather than speaking our truth when others are dumping their negative energy on us
- Having to get angry when someone treats us bad or there is conflict, rather than disengaging from conflict, without the necessity of anger
Self-Nurturing Some of us may have put up walls of protection to not only keep others out, but also stop ourselves from looking after us (we may also turn to unhelpful habits or addictions to try and soothe ourselves). When we self-compassionately take full responsibility for our own authentic feelings (including our own helplessness or loneliness, grief or sorrow, heartbreak or heartache - see also Courage), especially those uncomfortable ones we would not rather have (e.g. overcoming our fear of failing or succeeding) and are able to regulate & soothe ourselves, we are able to thrive. Compassionately paying attention to our subtle and not so subtle attitudes and behaviours, e.g. how we censor & select the information we absorb, how we look after our body, feelings, thoughts, finances can be self nurturing. Counselling & psychotherapy may explore our own self-compassion and willingness to give ourself the attention, reassurance & approval we need, to be both worthy & lovable, in touch with our core self. We may also want to use the therapy to find our own path in life, become more self aware, the person we want to be.
Willingness To Feel Any Core Painful Life Feelings Our core, painful life feelings may include vulnerability, helplessness, loneliness, emptiness, sorrow, grief, heartache, heartbreak, grieving humanity, experiencing an universal sadness. We may also carry wounded feelings. When younger, we were usually unequipped to respond to and manage our painful feelings (see also Our Painbody). Being willing to feel & experience our painful feelings at our own pace, and then name each of them, helps us understand what is happening for us with our authentic, core, existential life feelings. And bearing these painful feelings with our own compassion (as if we are bringing kindness to comfort a child who is hurting) may help us. Staying with these feelings, allowing them to move through us and release them may free us up, as may learning what our feelings are telling us about ourself and others, so we can do what is most loving to us and others. Especially in those dark nights of the soul, being there for ourself, so we are not alone, no longer helpless, reminding us that others' behaviour has nothing to do with us, not taking things personally (or carrying any unnecessary shame) may support us, so we no longer come from our wounded past and can manage, regulate & transmute our emotions, core, painful feelings, find our way through our pain and authentic, core, existential life feelings, no longer suffering (see also Suffering & Love) because we are stuck in the past. (See also Healing & Liberation From Our Past Feelings)
Being Carefree Our psychological wellbeing may be important to us. Letting go, being in the moment, in touch with what makes us less impatient, more content (as we relinquish what we no longer need to hold on to), satisfied with ourselves - caring, listening to ourself, following our interests being in touch with our light-heartedness, playfulness, carefreeness, laughter, fun, pleasure and our sense of humour may be important for us, as may being carefree (see also Connecting To The Innocence Of Our Childhood - Our Child Within) in-spite of all our responsibilities. In touch with our free will, carefreeness, doesn't have to mean we don't care - more that we do care, that we are careful and do things with care, yet at the same time enjoy life, so we don't feel drained, burdened or like a victim - we are just "being". (See also Peace Of Mind, Stilling Our Mind, Contentment, Inner Peace, Internal Calmness - What May Help)
Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves; they will have no end of fun.Joseph Folliet
Blessed are those who can tell a mountain from a molehill; they will be saved a lot of bother...
Openness To Our Light-Heartedness, Playfulness, Carefreeness, Laughter, Fun & Our Sense Of Humour Our need to control - trying to control others, situations, circumstances, outcomes can inhibit our openness, light-heartedness, carefreeness, playfulness, sense of humour. Intense or taking things so seriously, we may have lost our openness to light-heartedness, sense of humour along the way, maybe no longer taking pleasure in things so much - anhedonia. (Others may experience uncontrollable laughter - the pseudobulbar affect - PDA.) It is said that laughter lightens our being (especially from our whole body or belly) is the best medicine, enlightening our body and soul. We can find humour in mundaneness, even in serious situations, laugh at life's absurdities. Laughter may give us a sense of connectedness, belonging. It is our laughter and tears which can get lost yet is our natural way of expressing, releasing feelings. Loosening up, being open to spontaneity & surprises, pleasure, entering into the spirit of life, being light-hearted, lightening up, carefree at times, letting go of taking things so seriously, seeing the funny side of things, laughing about life's absurdities. And laughter, like our tears, can release our stress, relax our muscles, rather than holding this in our body (Golda Meir remarked "Those who don't know how to weep with their whole heart, don't know how to laugh either.") Having a playful attitude (it's not just reserved for children), and being playful, as if reconnecting to the innocence of our childhood, may boost our elevated mood, make life more fun, joyful, support our vitality, help defuse our stress, make us resilient. (See also The Pain & Joy Of Life - Opening Our Heart To Heal Love)
Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.Victor Borge
Pleasure We may struggle to honour what gives us pleasure or make pleasure a priority in our life - building it into our ideas, days. Some may hand over responsibility for others to give us pleasure, yet we can end up disappointed if we are dependant on others for this. (Martyr-like, some of us may spend a lot of time pleasing others or believe we don't deserve pleasure, finding it hard to treat ourselves.) Listening to our voice within, with what gives us pleasure and following this through, may matter to us, so we take responsibility for our own pleasure - not being dependent on others to give this to us. We may have forgotten to simply enjoy the pleasure of living, taking pleasure in ordinary tasks, the small things in life or struggle to take risks, experiment and explore what gives us pleasure. We may want to structure pleasure in our life from the frivolous to the profound making it a priority. Lost in the thoughts of our mind, we may have eroded the pleasure of opening up to all our senses. Alongside expanding our capacity to feel pleasure moment by moment, we may also want to consider bringing pleasure into our experiences (e.g. our light-heartedness, playfulness, carefreeness, laughter, fun and our sense of humour, playing music, dancing, drinking our favourite drink, having evocative images, smells around us, sexual pleasure).
Relationship To Life & Its Challenges
No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsibleStanislaw Jerzy Lec
Our Relationship To Life What is our attitude to life? What did life give to us? What do we give to life? Do we make our relationship to life difficult, complicated, dependent on how life treats us, martyr-like, or simple, healthy (see also Our Perceptions, How We See Ourself)? Improving our relationship to life may include how we treat life, reminding ourselves what life gives us, what we give to life, taking responsibility for our own happiness, noticing our energy vibration, life's interconnectedness and continuous growth (see also Evolving Consciousness - The Meanings We Make).
Life is a moving event with external and internal changes.
Life's Events, Challenges Our challenges may not be so much about life's events themselves, but how we respond to them, rise to our challneges in order to overcome obstacles, even if they seem impossible. Challenges in life come along from time to time. And challenging situations call upon our resilience, confidence, competence and at times our sense of humour, pointing us towards what we need to learn. Fun at times, these challenges can also test us, be the making of us, as we transform.
One Way Of Looking At Life's Challenges Don Miguel Ruiz writes of The Four Agreements, which may speak to us:
Being Impeccable With Our Words - Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the words to speak against yourself or gossip about others. Use the power of your words in the direction of truth and love.
Not Taking Anything Personally - Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of other, you won't be a victim of needless suffering.
Not Making Assumptions -Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement you can completely transform your life.
Always Doing Our Best - Your best is going to change from moment to moment, it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse and regret.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.Ambrose Redmoon
Courage We can choose to block challenges, procrastinate, try to forget things or find our courage to face and explore things, accept what we need to and take action by responding. The value of our courage helps us survive difficulties, face and overcome fears, nervousness, face things or try new things, and the more courageous we become, the more resilient we can become, boosting our self-worth. Understanding our own anxieties, limitations, may initially be important. Coming from our core of our being we may want to practise our courage - capacity to act in spite of uncertainty or fears - taking small steps and new risks outside of our comfort zone, maybe gradually at first, seeing where this takes us. This can be like strengthening a dormant muscle into life, as we choose what is right and sometimes take the longer way home over comfort, what is fun, quick or easy - see also Building, Maintaining, Scheduling Supportive Habits, Routines, Rituals, Patterns.
Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.Mary Anne Radmacher
Taking steps of courage gives us strength, empowers us and allows us to:
- Set our intention
- Trust that things will work out despite not seeing how
- Risk opening our heart to our own courage, being in touch with it
- Feel our feelings
- Listen with our heart, less our head, so we catch not just the facts, but feelings
- Look at ourselves deeply & engage in some soul-searching
- See things as they are & not what we believe them to be
- Be vulnerable
- Be honest about our mistakes, our shortcomings
- Compassionately be with our own suffering
- Stand in our own truth
- Love ourselves
- Set ourself free to what is holding us back
- Let go of what we need to
- Pick ourself up after a fall, setbacks, call upon our integrity, resilience & personal boundaries, so we no longer abandon ourselves
- Go beyond our limits, fears & take action when we are afraid
- Have willingness (love and will) to be who we are
- Be bold
- Be real
- Stand in our ground & stand by what we believe in
- Overcome obstacles
- Take risks
- Have the capacity to act in spite of risks, fears, uncertainty
- Listening & following winds of change
- Establishing new supportive habits
- Face others, whose opinions & beliefs are different to ours, face rejection
- Overcome disappointments including experiencing others disapproval & disappointment in us
- Overcome our embarrassment, shame
- Be resilient
- Speak up for ourselves, ask for what we need
- Dare to live our dreams, follow our desires, passions
- Transform what we need to
- Risk, share a more real love in our relationship
- Be encouraging of others
- Overcome, manage our anxiety
- Overcome procrastination
A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.Mahatma Gandhi
Soothing, Loving, Accepting, Caring For Ourselves & Others
Healthy Side Of Being Self(ish) There can be much confusion between being selfish and being self-responsible - taking loving care of ourselves. It's common that most of us don't grow up in families who stress the goal of learning to be loving to ourselves. And we can pick up messages that it's selfish when we attend to our own needs and feelings, rather than give ourselves up for others. Yet the opposite is true, as we take responsibility for our own feelings and needs enabling us not to be needy of others. On the one hand, we may not want to be selfish - living as if only we count, expecting others to give themselves up and do what we want, being mean to others, disregarding their feelings or needs, compounded if we expect others to give themselves up for us, making them responsible for our feelings of pain and joy, getting angry at them for doing what they want to do - not what we want to do, or consistently make our own feelings, needs, wants, desires important without considering others' feelings, needs, wants, desires. And similarly, we may not expect others to give themselves up for us or become demanding of them. We may believe that being selfless, on a path of love, is just giving to others, being good yet when selfless, we can over time feel empty, low, depressed because we have abandoned ourself. Keeping busy, struggling to slow down, relax, we may avoid prioritising our own being and expressing all of our Self in any way because we are not taking care of ourselves, projecting onto others (including our partner) our own unwanted, uncomfortable feelings. Yet if we are not self(ish) and independent to some degree, we may be living a life as if not fully existing (as if there is no self), give up on things, feel miserable - become self(less) because we don't want to be seen as selfish, so we consistently give up doing what we want and do what someone else wants us to do. We may also allow others who annoy us or we disagree with to get under our skin because we are out of touch with our own energy, vibration yet pick up on others' energies, overly focused on always being the peacemaker. Avoiding conflict, confrontation or not wanting to let people down, upset them, we may only end up trying to fix things, please others, become like a rescuer, martyr or victim-like. Basing our esteem on others is "other-esteem" not self-esteem. Giving ourself up to avoid being seen as selfish is not self-responsible and is manipulative and dishonest. Some may be in a codependent relationship, giving to others, struggling to receive. Duty bound, we may have some false beliefs about selfishness, which stop us not only asking for what we need, but also getting our basic dependency needs met. We may deny our need for love, or believe that we can be joyful, even if others around us don't like this or can't be happy, if others around us aren't happy, so we become self-sacrificing (e.g. in our relationship). If we want to thrive, flourish, we need to rid ourselves of any unhealthy guilt, nourish ourselves, prioritise self-care not as a luxury but out of self-respect. We each need to define selfishness and self-responsibility, so we are not dependent on others' definition of us. This helps us become secure in knowing that we have our own rights and responsibility to support our own highest good without intention to harm others, so we are no longer tempted to give ourself up when someone tells us we are selfish because we are not doing what they want us to do. Our healthy side of being selfish boosts our esteem and may include:
- We take care of our own needs, feelings, desires rather than expect others to take care of us
- We are able to support others in doing what brings them joy, even if they are not doing what we want them to do
- We show caring to others for the joy it gives us, rather than out of obligation, guilt or fear
- Even if someone gets angry with us, we have courage to take loving action on our own behalf
- Living our truth
- Rather than give ourself up to avoid criticism, rejection, anger, we have courage to speak our truth about what we do feel or not feel, what we'll do or not do
- Doing what brings us joy with no intent to harm another (even if others don't like it)
- Balance of giving, receiving, sharing love
- No longer feeling shame
- Being our own strong loving adult - loving & caring for our self
- Being in touch with our self-worth
- Taking responsibility by being considerate of others' needs, wants without giving ourself up
- Supporting our highest good, even when others don't agree or like what we are doing
- Anchoring, centering & grounding our self
- Reassuring our self
- Freeing our self
- Being in touch with our independence, inner authority, own authority, free will
- Accessing our personal will, resilience. Having our own personal boundaries.
- Being able to self-reflect
- Having self-respect
- Having self-control
- Having self-discipline
- Not giving our heart away - protecting it
- Our assertiveness
- Making quality time for our self, being in touch with what fulfils us
- Overcoming any fears of abandonment, rejection
- Being in touch with our core self, real self
- No longer believing that someone out there can make it all right for us, give us permission
- No longer confusing selfishness with self-responsibility & building a healthy relationship with ourself
- Having a level of self-acceptance
- How we love
- Allowing ourselves to be all of who we are
- Being in touch with our deepest desires, passions
- Living to our full potential
Soothing Ourself Soothing ourselves in healthy ways for our own good with compassion, care so we aren't always dependent on unhealthy habits, addictions or on others, don't project our unwanted feelings onto others, e.g. our partner may be very important. This may mean taking downtime, soothing our emotional and physical distress, taking care of, regulating our own feelings (e.g. of any physical and emotional distress), giving what we need to give to ourselves, e.g. forgiveness, self-reassurance, comfort, calmness, peace of mind, nourishment, love and self-empathy. There are many ways to soothe ourselves including: immersing ourselves in simple, repetitive tasks, playing with anything. Doing something we really love to do, e.g. walking in nature, being with animals, taking a shower or bath, playing a musical instrument, listening to music, reading a book, having a pet, journalling, doing something creative, talking to a friend, or experiencing whatever feels loving or nurturing to us, including reassuring ourself through kind words. Ways to soothe ourself may also include cooking, baking, exploring the recipes, sewing, knitting, DIY, fishing, movements - including sports, exercising, tai chi, walking, dancing or singing, being in touch with our passions, art, pottery, painting, being engrossed in a good book, journal keeping, writing, poetry, being out in nature, being with animals, socialising (e.g. connecting with a long lost friend), travelling, taking a holiday, experiencing pleasurable things, including our work, playing, having fun, a child's laughter, being on top of a mountain, by a pond, making love, mindfulness, meditation, worship, praying or simply stopping and doing nothing, "faffing", being mindless, daydreaming, being in touch with beauty, connecting to our spiritual nature, leading to peak experiences. Simply faffing or daydreaming can also soothe us (see also Navigating Between Being & Doing).
Developing, Tuning In With Our Loving Adult Some of us may struggle to develop our own loving adult, especially if our inner child (our feeling self) carries unbearable pain of rejection, loneliness, aloneness and abandonment or terror of helplessness from our childhood. This may mean that we are that child, maybe feeling lost, unworthy of love, unlovable, leading to shame, with no inner adult available to help handle these painful feelings. Internally, we may remain an alone and terrified child. So, we too may have abandoned our inner child. The need for attention, validation, love and compassion is not going to come from another person. No matter how much we wish that someone could give to us what we didn't get as a child, it is not going to happen. We may need to learn how to give this to ourself. When we do, we will be well on our way to respond, support, reassure, love our own child within. Our own loving adult gradually learns to bring to our hurting child all the love and compassion we didn't receive as a child. (See also Self-Parenting - Struggling To Sense, Reassure, Love Our Own Child Within)
Being a Loving Human Being, Loving Ourself, Self-Care, Self-Love - How Do We Love Ourself? - Being Our Own Strong, Loving, Maturing, Mature Adult, Loving & Caring For Our Self Self-care isn't about self-indulgence, but more around being self-aware what's happening in our body, feelings, mind and taking care of ourself. And learning to love ourself starts with learning to be present inside our body in the moment. (So just as we can't attend to a baby if we don't hear them cry, we can't attend to our own feelings and needs if we are unaware what it is we are feeling and needing. Yet if we are focused instead on what others think of us and what we want to get from others, this can stop us.) The more care we show ourself (relationally, organisationally, financially, physically, emotionally, sexually, spiritually, having boundaries), the more we can care for the world around us. This avoids burnout. Some of us may feel unlovable. Others may question what is love. When taking care of ourself we can come from our wounded place, kid ourself we are being caring, hold on to our resistances or come from self-love - the resource of our life, our loving adult (for example taking care, looking after, reassuring ourself when upset, coming to our own rescue, calming, comforting, soothing ourself). Some of us may struggle to grow up or with parenting ourself. In any moment we have a choice to be open to learn about loving ourself or try to have control over getting love and avoiding pain. We can't just turn a switch on, decide to love ourself. First we may need to be in touch with what blocks us, stops us loving ourself (our beliefs, what we tell ourselves, feeling resentful, depressed, esteem, etc.) We may have made caring for ourself a low priority or question how we can feel love for ourself rather than focusing our action on what we can do to love ourself. Some of us may be afraid to give special attention to our own needs, leading to potential sadness, hopelessness or despair. Making connection with our own source of love may now be a priority. And it is said we can't give what we don't have and it is an old maxim that we can't love others (see also Love & Approval), unless we love our self - accompanying, tending to ourself in caring, loving ways. And when we feel good about ourself - have some self-compassion, fill ourself with love and care for who we are, not only may we flourish but so too our confidence, as may our relationships as we share our love. We all have a capacity to be loving - without the need to get love back and live from this place of experiencing love. And from our love more love is created. At times we may need to nudge ourselves towards self-love, as if we see ourselves and are here, present in the moment, attending to our own love needs (see Contemplation, Creating Space & Quiet Time, Taking Pauses - Self-Awareness, Observation & Reflection). Our loving adult can be also viewed as our sense of internal presence, our higher mind which for some may be linked to our spiritual self. Alongside identifying, disidentifying and integrating all aspects of us, how we love ourself affects our enthusiasm, may include the following considerations:
- What is loving to us right now & how we fill ourselves with love.
- Putting our focus on what is truly for our highest good
- Wondering what that deepest part of us would like to create now.
- Acknowledging, embracing, releasing our loneliness in the face of others' resistant or disrespectful behaviour. Accepting our helplessness over this & deciding how to look after our feelings & take our best possible action (see also On The Receiving End Of Someone's Negative, Draining Energy - Our Initial Reactions).
- We may be in a wounded space and whether or not we stay in our wounded place, may be important for us.
- Simply by telling or shaming ourself that we should love ourselves by thinking nicer thoughts may not help us. Loving our self does not happen by feeling ashamed in who we are, telling ourself that we should, must be thinking kind or loving thoughts about our self or others.
- Risking turning our compassionate attention towards our feelings, not so we allow them to swallow us up, but by being in touch with the part of us that can see what we are doing, taking small steps back from our self, witnessing the feelings we are feeling, any stuckness, the coping strategies we have used up until now.
- Turning our awareness towards what's happening inside, moment by moment simply acknowledging what's happening, accepting, embracing exactly where we are now, including any negative feelings, behaviours (without ignoring, condemning, withdrawing, anaesthetising). Being accepting and curious about all aspects of ourself (all the parts of us that need to be heard, including our shadow) - simply here for ourselves, see what we are doing, so we create a caring friend within.
- Some of us may have tried to love ourselves in the best way we can and be critical, that we shouldn't need to be doing this, or we are doing it wrong. This part of us may also need a lot of attention, acceptance.
- That other, hungrier, competitive, painful or even jealous aspects of us may also be vying for attention.
- Finding our compassion for our mistakes, failures.
- Whether our intention is to protect ourself from pain, remain in our wounded self, closing down our heart or opening our heart to learn about loving ourself.
- Whether we seek love on the outside or from within, extrinsically or intrinsically.
- No one is a permanently loving adult - we all can get caught in old wounds. Yet denying ourself love and care, we may struggle to accept our own obligation to take care of and nourish ourselves in life-affirming ways, be our own inner friend, guardian, protector, yet no one else can do this for us. Some may do so superficially, relating self-care only with temporarily pampering ourselves with possessions, gadgets, luxury holidays or quick fix solutions, habits or addictions, etc. as if to relieve our distress.
- Moving towards compassion for us & lovingly connected with our inner child.
- Acknowledging how we are feeling including those core, existential life feelings giving ourself permission to feel self-compassion, empathy, compassion & empathy for ourself.
- We may believe, or were brought up to believe, that love is only something we get from others (see also Love & Approval in our relationship), that if we cared for ourself, it is selfish and we may end up alone. (Yet in not caring for ourself, we are disrespecting ourself.) Others may interpret self-love in negative ways, as if that is conceited, vain or self-indulgent that we become narcissistic, self-absorbed and only has negative consequences (see also Healthy Side Of Being Self(ish)).
- Whether we try to use or direct love, rather than become it.
- Topping up our own "love bank", "love tank", so we don't run on empty or expect others to fill it.
- Paying compassionate attention to ourself, exploring ways to feel better about ourself, loving our own life, the right to be "me".
- Valuing, taking care, soothing & reassuring ourself
- Establishing a deeper connection with our inner self, being open & peaceful inside, learning to self-nurture.
- Discerning between what we could, should, want & need
- Having the discipline to set the boundaries that support us
- Being in touch with & asking for what we need - speaking up for ourselves & letting others, our partner know what works best for us
- Not giving our heart away. Whether our love is linked to our need, dependency and conditional, or is unconditional for all, as we open our heart, let love flow.
- How we generate loving & compassionate feelings, comfort ourselves.
- Seeing our self as we actually are, being here for us - creating an inner friend.
- Listening, trusting & responding to our inner voice.
- Valuing & taking care of our health, environment, safety & security, self-esteem, our intrinsic self-worth
- Giving to ourself what we give to others
- Acknowledging that life is not still, forever moving.
- Sensing what we are picking up from our environment.
- How love heightens our outlook, informing all our actions.
- Noticing our being & doing
- Exploring love in its many forms.
- Opening our heart, living from our heart.
- Being generally optimistic
- Our relationship style
- How we want to connect, share, belong with others & the wider world.
- Are we able to include suffering, love of humanity, connecting to a love of others, a love greater than ourself in its divine form, which for some may lead to spiritual enquiry, a need to connect to a spiritual source of love or offer acts of service?
- Being more care free, enjoying playfulness, laughter, having & expressing our own sense of humour.
- Choosing courage.
- Being open to truth, guidance
- What it means to be fully human
Expressing love to ourself means doing loving things to ourself, attending to our body, feelings, mind, sexuality and spirituality - whatever that means for us for some alongside spending time with loved ones, nature, supporting others, being in our being. Deeply loving ourself may also include getting out of our head, listening to and trusting our feelings, speaking up for ourselves, including asking for help when we need it, not engaging with people who treat us without respect or love, treating others with love and respect, defining our own worth, focusing on gratitude.
Self-Acceptance, Loving Ourselves Unconditionally Coming from an empty place, we may be seeking unconditional love and acceptance from others, yet don't find it easy to accept ourselves in many ways, allow for what is, especially if we don't feel good enough and may prefer to choose safety over love. There is some truth in the cliché that when we value, unconditionally accept who we are, love ourselves, attending to our love needs, we are able to love others, share love. When we accept ourselves we feel more confident, have self-esteem, in our personal power, are less anxious, worry less, accept and witness life's ebbs and flows, can be more in touch with reality, the moment. Alongside our peace of mind, accepting ourselves also affects our body and we can become more relaxed, at ease. This experience may also put us in touch with our inner strength, inner will - being internally powerful, personal will, personal power, personal empowerment. When we discover self-acceptance we can take responsibility for ourself, feel our vulnerability, be at peace with ourself and eave behind the defences which hold us back now. The qualities of radical self-acceptance, loving ourself may include:
- Being in our power, inner authority
- The Power Of Kindness, understanding
- Our choice, readiness, willingness to love - putting our focus on loving ourself & others.
- Being here for ourself ("I see you and I'm here for you").
- Recognising that we may not have loving thoughts or even want to love our self (which may paradoxically lead us closer to a place of acceptance & responsibility for our wellbeing).
- Recognising our qualities & gifts alongside ugly spots, flaws, shadow side, weaknesses, failures, resistances, obstacles, blocks, reluctances. (e.g. I need to make things perfect, know everything, be overly competitive, especially in conflict).
- Accepting the times we feel at our worst, our bad days, challenges, losses, judgements, self-criticisms, treating ourself respectfully, taking care of ourselves without pressuring ourselves.
- Accepting all the parts of us - no longer caught in believing that someone else must be to blame, we have no choice or that we are unworthy or unlovable.
- Being curious, maybe seeing things we would not rather see, e.g. our anger or shame, so called negative feelings, unhelpful thoughts & behaviours.
- Surrendering or letting go of our disappointments and unrealistic expectations (of what should be, our helplessness about what isn't in our control)
- Letting go of regrets, how we should be, living closer to how we actually are and a willingness to listen to the voice of our Self - our heart, believing in our own intrinsic worth - "this is me, all of me, even the parts I may not like or want"
- No longer unhealthily comparing ourself with others.
- Validating ourself whether or not we receive acceptance, approval, affirmation, reassurance, recognition, validation, appreciation, praise, permission, confirmation, attention from others, regardless of what is happening.
- The healthy side of being selfish
- Accepting what we didn't want to happen, has happened, that we are not resisting this and are open to our life now - whatever this brings.
- Our uniqueness - that there is no one else like us, that we are OK, realising we are enough (giving what we need to give to ourself).
- Letting go of what we no longer need to hold on to, accepting "what is", things as they are - embracing & acknowledging ourselves, our essence and others, as we and they are.
- Being in touch with our sense of gratitude (which may point us towards spiritual enquiry), loving our self unconditionally, being in touch with our forgiveness, grace, letting us off all our own hooks.
- Being in touch with our "being" in our "doing".
- Reassuring our inner child.
- No longer being so attached to outcomes.
- Accepting our non-acceptance.
- Accepting that everything is as it is - it should be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it bePaul McCartney
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be
Accepting Others, Situations We have a choice whether to judge or accept others - their behaviour, mannerisms, etc. (accepting is not the same as condoning, excusing, pardoning). We may struggle to accept the reality about a person, situations - taking things as they are without reacting. Like the qualities of the ocean, being in touch with acceptance, unconditional love, letting others be - including their (like our own) quirks, flaws, "crazy, mad bits", "mental wobbles", accepting them as they are in their own humanity (see also Wanting To Change Others, Our Partner), may be important for us, yet at the same time support them in becoming the best version of themselves (see also Acknowledging, Accepting, Embracing, Managing Our Differences In Relationship). And when we accept others, it can soften our hard edges, give us peace of mind. We may become more easygoing. (And when we accept things as they are, it doesn't mean we have to be resigned or surrender.)
Compassion & Understanding For Ourself - Allowing, Letting Ourself Be The Receiver Of Our Love Letting go of trying to get others to take our pain away, acknowledging that the only person who can be there for us all the time is us, establishing this bond inside us and having the courage, willingness and compassion to feel our pain may empower us. Some of us may have difficulty receiving love and this may be connected to being loving to ourself. Having compassion and understanding for ourselves, for being human can give us a broader view of ourselves and others, help us connect with others. This may involve:
- Having compassion for our wounded, fearful self
- Letting go of our hurt & holding on to what heals
- Having empathy for ourself & others
- Being honest with ourself (acknowledging our struggles) and responding to our needs, accepting ourselves.
- Really receiving what we want for ourself - giving ourselves the sincere attention we need that touches us where we need to be touched (e.g. warm praise, appreciation, encouragement), taking responsibility of defining our own worth and areas we may neglect, listening to and putting faith into following our heart.
- Taking responsibility, accepting & acknowledging "what is", our experiences, all of who we are, including our shadow, limitations, woundedness, vulnerability, tenderness, differences, fears and lack of forgiveness, loneliness (alongside our need to belong & share with others).
- Allowing our self-compassion to wash through us, our expectations, uncomfortable feelings - the good, the bad & ugly bits, our self-criticism, shame, etc.
- Having further compassion for the times we act without being very loving to our self and others.
- Supporting ourselves to make fresh choices, being in touch with our home truths, taking loving actions, staying in a positive emotion.
- Being ready or willing to embrace, challenge, change & transform, feel painful feelings (which can open our door to old memories), reach out to others, be in touch with a deeper level of self-compassion, the world & mankind, connected to the universality of suffering & love and open our heart to others.
- Introducing compassion into when we judge ourselves.
- Being open to guidance, truth
Self-Compassion - Embracing Ourselves With Compassion & Understanding For Us & Others, Being Loving, Sharing Love With Others - Possible Blocks Some may act compassionately, yet not feel much kindness, caring or gentleness. Yet compassion sees the goodness in us and others, acts with kindness, love, cares for the best in us and others, even if we are aware of our, their pain. Deferring our own painful feelings, we may find it hard to take care of ourselves or others. Embracing ourselves with compassion enables us to be compassionate and caring to others (see also Giving, Receiving & Sharing Love - Loving & Being Loved). We may be quick to judgements (about ourself or others. Listening to our inner voice, having compassion is a choice we make and adding compassion to our judgements may dilute them. Holding all-or-nothing thinking, we may rush to opinions about ourself, others, yet when we are compassionate, we can hold that their circumstances are different and we may never fully understand others' motivations, choices, that where they're coming from, they may be doing their best.
Embracing Ourselves With Compassion & Understanding For Us & Others, Being Loving, Sharing Love With Others - What May Help Us At the heart of secure, internal attachment is self compassion. Compassion - caring deeply about our own and others' pain, understanding why people suffer, is frequently at the basis of many cultures & religions, where sensitivity to through suffering, its causes and the relationship to love we are motivated to help others, loving, caring for them (which triggers a feedback loop of wellbeing, nourishing us, giving us meaning, building community - In Tune With Us, Community & The Wider World, Our Interdependence, Interconnectedness, Oneness, Unity, Harmony). The other aspects of compassion is to utilise our motivation to take steps to alleviate suffering. We all need to belong, share with others, may want to have & hold a loving attitude towards ourselves, others. We may need to attend to ourself and others well, in a calm way (and taking time to reflect may support us). Being compassionate, balancing self-compassion and compassion for others may matter to us. For many, inviting compassion into our heart also extends it out to others, opens us up to be compassionately loving in our relationship (see also Loving Someone When It's Hard - Opening Our Heart To Others, Even When Things Are Difficult) when there is mutual love and acceptance for exactly how we each individually are, can enable us to love, accept ourselves. When we feel better about ourself (the oxytocin effect), we may treat other people better, which has a ripple effect. When we are loving ourselves, taking loving action, just being, we may naturally want to give to others (as opposed to needing to give), because it brings us joy - helps nurture all relationships. We may feel compassion, when moved by others' pain, seeing their inner need behind their expression, responding to this, opening our heart, feeling their feelings within us. Compassion needs expression. And when we are being compassionate - doing to others what we would have them compassionately do to us, it can have a healing quality, so we are not so self-focused. We are able to show we care, are compassionate through understanding, empathy, altruism, kindness, tenderness, gentleness & reaching out to others, inspiring them, without attachment to outcome - qualities of the soul. When we are deeply compassionate, we are also able to be patient, even if our timetable is tight, see the good in someone, even if they are acting badly, see someone's distress, even if they are angry, aggressive, forgive, even if we still feel aggrieved. When we care, have unconditional compassion for others who are vulnerable or in distress, our heart opens, our body softens, relaxes, we are careful about what we say, in how we reassuringly touch and remain silent when appropriate. From our inner warmth, self-soothing supported through the elevated mood of compassion, which never rejects or adversely reacts, some may also experience the presence, sense of the spiritual when we are compassionate.
To bow to the fact of our life's sorrows and betrayals is to accept them; and from this deep gesture we discover that all life is workable. As we learn to bow, we discover that the heart holds more freedom and compassion than we could imagine.Jack Kornfield
Self-Worth, Safety & Security
Externally Based Sense Of Worth, Unworthiness It is important for all of us to create a supportive and helpful external environment around us, have supportive others in our life, receive care. We may value some important, supportive external aspects of our life, like the work we do, our achievements, performance, success, and we can feel momentarily good about these. Yet none of these create deep and abiding sense of worth if we base our self-worth entirely on success, then when things go differently this could negatively affect us. Besides, when we get older, we lose our looks. ("Who am I beyond my looks, appearance, achievements?" we may ask.) And then what happens when we stop being as productive at work or we retire? Does this mean that we now have less worth? This is the problem when we attach our worth to looks, performance or achievements. Understanding that we - our Self, our qualities are not our achievements, that our self-worth comes from within can enable us to put things in perspective and still feel good about ourself if things don't go well. Some may only feel worth on the outside yet have a sense of worthlessness, unworthy inside. Basing our self-worth on others, we may also believe that others have to validate, love us to prove our self-worth or that if others aren't happy we can't be. We may convince ourselves that if we get a new job, lover, car, etc. we will be fine. Others may seek only quick fixes, temporary pleasures or be caught up in unhelpful habits, addictions. Believing that happiness is only found outside of ourselves, only in our heads, through trying to control others, outcomes, our partner or that the whole world only revolves around one important thing (which we can become overly-reliant upon), some of us may only define our sense of self-worth, self-love, through external factors. And important though these are for us, they can give us an illusion of safety. Feeling inadequate, we may continuously pamper or indulge ourselves by our material possessions, including the latest technology we have, defining our worth on our home, wealth, popularity, fame, our appearance, the way we look & our body shape, weight, hair, clothes we wear. Whether we are in a relationship (see also Emotional Dependency - Losing Who We Are) or have a child, the amount of sex we have, being obsessed by religion or fleeing to the spiritual can be other ways we base our self-worth. Some may try to say affirmations, pray or meditate in order to control. We may need/want others to define our own self-worth. Our interactions, the validation, approval, affirmation, reassurance, recognition, appreciation we get from others can go some way to support our internal sense of worth through positive attention and it can be tempting to base our self-worth outside of our self (extrinsically). Yet ultimately not everything outside of ourselves can give us validation of our worth. We may constantly strive to feel OK, that to fail (or not reach our goals) is not OK, so our performance failure or success or our emotional evaluation can unhelpfully end up defining our inherent sense of intrinsic worth (as can the work we do). Inside we may feel hollow, empty. We don't have to look outside ourselves for our strong self-worth.
Defining Ourself Externally, What May Be Happening Inside Empty inside, we may have a low self-worth, or tell ourselves we have no self-worth, feeling unworthy. We may believe we are the problem, blaming ourselves (a long way back, we may for example blame ourselves for any of our family's shortcomings) which reinforces what we tell ourselves, that we are unworthy (and unworthy of love). We may be our own worst critic. The effects of our internal dialogue may also play a part, as may sexual stereotypes of women overly focused tying our primary worth to our looks, body image and men overly focused on tying our primary worth to our abilities and achievements, what we can do rather than the value of our character, who we are - our authentic self, being human in the world, open hearted (see also Finding Out About Ourself). Some women or men may also base their self-worth on sexually satisfying their partner, or on our conquest. We may base our external sense of worth on the productivity, the work we do. Whilst setting goals is important, if we attach our worth to accomplishing them, we will never feel happy until we have what we want. We may feel emotionally insecure, inadequate. low inside, finding change difficult, procrastinate (compounded if we base our worth dependent on others, outcomes, which creates anxiety). Enlisting the support of others so we get our care needs met and learning to receive is important. Yet believing we are not worthy of love ourselves - of giving ourself love, we may only look outside of ourselves, looking to others to give us our self-worth, rescue us, say the right things. We may frequently look for approval, affirmation, reassurance, recognition, validation, appreciation, praise, permission, confirmation, as if we can get all our self-worth from what others say or think without considering how we can validate ourselves. We may be overly focused on pleasing, fixing things for others yet feel unfulfilled inside. Dependent on others for our sense of worth (see also In A High Maintenance Relationship), we may become resentful or jealous at times, and in our relationship or marriage we may deny we have needs, are dependent or are emotionally needy. Some of us may have a fear of missing out (FOMO). Stuck in our own core shame, sense of worthlessness, we can end up defining our worth based on others, including how they perceive us or becoming judgemental & critical of ourselves. We can get caught up in comparing ourselves with others, either unfavourably or very favourably, because we competitively can't bear coming off second best, struggling to accept us as we are. Our externally based sense of worth may be overly focused on valuing things rather than experiences, external measures of success, "doing" things, neglecting our experience of "being", affecting whether our motivation comes from internal or external resources. To boost our external sense of worth, we may end up over-giving to people, whereas others tend to be "takers". Paradoxically we may have been living as if only we count, yet inside believing we can only get our sense of worth through others. And sometimes our self-worth can be based on our professional confidence - we may also ignore our personal confidence and prioritise our "doing" over our "being" (the destination rather than the journey).
Scared is what you're feeling. Brave is what you're doing.Emma Donoghue
Intrinsic Self-Worth - Valuing Our True Worth, Who We Are Our low or high self-worth is a result of how we treat ourself. (However, others' attention and approval can support our self-worth, yet if we've abandoned ourself, this will erode it.) We may want to define our intrinsic inherent worth, our virtues (not just our looks - often the feminine stereotype, performance frequently the male stereotype), our self, our human givens - the internal inborn qualities in us - ones we've had since birth, our essential goodness, caring, compassion, gentleness, tenderness, the qualities of our soul if you like, which never fade with age. This may enable us to cope, thrive, despite the impact of life, so we feel more at ease, empowered, resilient, accept who we are (and this may also include bringing any self-judgements, shame or guilt, out of the dark). Despite what's happening around us, being centred, grounded, setting clear boundaries may be important for us. Our sense of worth is enhanced by being true to ourselves, loving ourselves rather than judging ourselves. We may want to be more in touch with our true worth and the significance of who we are by connecting to our inherent nature and attributes - the breadth and depth of all of who we are, embracing our authenticity, our reliability, positivity, caring, empathy, warmth, joy, vitality, passion, compassion, kindness, creativity & inspiration, our sexual energy, vulnerability & tenderness, courage, curiosity, goodwill, sense of humour, generosity of spirit, spiritual self. (See also Accessing Motivation, Taking Loving Action, Acting From Our Personal Will, Heart)
What Supports Our Self-Worth How we treat ourselves, see ourselves, what we tell ourselves or were told by others influences our own self-worth. Appreciating ourselves, being grateful for our life, our qualities, inner strength, personal boundaries, being in our own inner authority, anchored, centred, grounded in our body, enriches our self-worth. Having a positive self-talk & attitude, liking, loving, reassuring ourselves, being attentive, respectful, may also enhance our sense of worth. This includes being in touch with our own, values, integrity, internal identity, feelings (and attending to our feelings), validating what they are telling us alongside validating, valuing, appreciating, affirming, accepting ourself. It may matter to us to believe in our own true worth & uniqueness, that there is no one in the world quite like us, that we are enough, validating our own worth, our esteem. What we do now and our contribution to the world, ability to assert our own needs through our intrinsic sense of worth - what we contribute to ourself & the way we are with others (without necessarily wanting anything back in return) can foster our sense of worth. Being more aligned as an expression of who we are, no longer based on external definitions of our worth as a person may now matter to us. We can view failure as being more about what we need to learn, so it no longer defines any lack of our worth. We may also find it easier not to take other's behaviour so personally, understanding that it is about them, rather than our intrinsic worth. Building a healthy lifestyle, valuing the process more than the outcome, looking after our own human needs, learning, loving, taking care of our own health, body, supports our being. Choosing the attitudes & thinking - ones which support us, being engaged and connected with others, making worthy contributions to the wider world, as well as limiting our exposure to stressful situations & people, can be of benefit. In touch with our own moral compass, utilising our personality traits, drawing upon our personal qualities, abilities, taking actions, addressing our own, important concerns enhances our self-worth. Being in touch with our intrinsic self-trust, trusting our own innateness, inherent nature, may also increase our strong self-worth, supported by our peace of mind. We may want to build upon our own range of character strengths (and strength of character), create a positive environment around us, including our own home, making space for our self, so we belong, make all sorts of connections, bonds with others and build strong relationships with supportive others. Encouraging the good choices others are making, being empowering, setting examples for behaviours we value and like to see (including recognising the value we bring to others' lives - what we contribute, how we support them and the positive impact we make), may further enhance our sense of worth, safety, being worthy of love. Taking responsibility for our own happiness supports our self-worth. The counselling for self-worth also explores the core issues that stop us feeling what we want to feel and how to separate out any shame from our true identity.
Intrinsic Qualities Of Our Self-Worth Acknowledging that we are a person of value, valuing ourself, our experiences, qualities, abilities, skills and potential, our being supports our self-worth. We can forget, disown or overlook the wide range of qualities in us and spending time re-acquainting ourself with each of them can help us by selecting the quality we want to embody (e.g. integrity, humility), meditating or contemplating on this quality, experiencing the quality in ourself and finding moments throughout our day to energetically embody this quality. Personal qualities of our self-worth may include being
External Safety At a basic level we all need to be safe out in the world in order to survive. Being in touch with what matters, what we really want, and having positive experiences can enhance our sense of safety. It may be important for us to personally create a good enough, helpful & supportive external environment, e.g. our home & living space, work, seeking out supportive people, being with a partner who is loving & caring, etc. However, if we base our sense of worth on external factors, or by pleasing, fixing, rescuing others, preferring codependent ways of relating this may give us an illusion of safety. No others can entirely make us feel safe. However being safe enough, in an uncertain world where we can't control many things external to us or know everything may be important for us.
Internal Safety, Inner Security Being safe enough, safe with our feelings, yet willing to be adventurous, take risks may challenge us. What governs our sense of safety is connected to being present to what's happening in the moment and how safe we feel internally - our inner space, experiencing secure, internal attachment. This for some may also have roots with our early connections and bonding patterns still affecting safety in our relationship, marriage, feeling sexually safe now. Some of us may ask "How can we control feeling safe?" Not knowing, always needing to be in control and uncertainty may lead to fear, defensiveness, withdrawal. Sometimes we may have taken in experiences and attributions about ourself, which are no longer helpful and it may benefit us to re-examine any negative self-beliefs, which no longer support our sense of safety. Being in touch with what's happening inside us (e.g. our stress, fear, anxiety), our interactions, what we take in - the experience of ourselves, including our vulnerability and tenderness, how we are & how we are treated, met, affects our esteem and sense of safety. And a healthy sense of safety can also help us sleep. Being unkind, unloving & critically judging ourself can erode our emotional security, be a form of self-neglect also affecting our sense of safety and we may now want to live in ways, so we are kind & loving to ourself. We may want to take care in other areas we neglect ourself, our body (see also Feeling Safe In our body - Connecting To Our Centre) and be more in tune with our own truth, values, which keep us safe, creating a helpful, supportive, non-critical, internal environment as we connect to our inner strength and sense of personal empowerment. Emotional safety comes from being loving to ourselves & others, not just trying to get validation, approval, affirmation, reassurance, confirmation, permission, recognition, appreciation, praise, attention, adoration, admiration from others or through controlling others, including our partner. Validating ourselves may also be important because we can't always seek out others, depend on our external environment to give us what we need. Our self-compassion and ability to take care of our own wounds, painful feelings, soothe ourselves, may help us feel safer. Establishing a deeper connection with ourself, listening with our intuition to what we need may also enhance our sense of inner safety. Our own sense of worth, centredness, security, structure, groundedness, being in our body can help give us a structure, enable us to feel safer as can being emotionally secure, supported by our resilience, personal boundaries. Holding, having faith, being in touch with our sense of self, creating and being in touch with our inner sanctuary, our anchor points our spiritual or religious practice, can bring us a sense of safety, as if we can connect to our own, internal, safe harbour that we can return to any time.
Choosing Safety Or Love Sometimes we are faced with prioritising safety. We can choose to align with our personal fears (relationship fears, hurt, pain), trying to have control on the outside over being safe and secure or to choose love or learning (see also Dilemmas Of Love, Fear Of Love, Scared Of Love, Afraid Of Love). The counselling and psychotherapy can be a space to explore this further and whether we are coming from our old wounds or self-acceptance, loving ourselves unconditionally and sharing love with others. (See also Safety In Our Relationship, Marriage)
Self-Support & Responsibility
Our Own Responsibility Sometimes we can feel bad or ashamed about what we have done, certain feelings (e.g. vulnerability, tenderness) & thoughts, projecting these unwanted judgements & thoughts onto others. Managing feelings can be difficult at times. Being honest & trustworthy to us & others (see also Self-Trust, Putting Trust In Us), without compromising our own integrity, can be challenging, as does taking responsibility for our own happiness & pain, heartache responses, sense of self-worth & safety - self management. We may have handed over our responsibility to society, others or no one without taking any personal responsibility and consequently not living from our own ground. Becoming the author of our own life, in our own authority can be a challenge, as may be no longer automatically absorbing the values & beliefs of external authorities. As we take ownership of our life (see also Ownership, Guardianship, Trusteeship, Stewardship), being responsible for what we make of experiences, we can feel more grounded, connected to our own values, conscience & responsibility. Taking responsibility for what we bring to our own table, to others, may matter to us. (See also Our Own Path Of Development)
No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.Voltaire
Ownership, Guardianship, Trusteeship, Stewardship The impact of AI and its relationship with ownership, guardianship, trusteeship, stewardship may be of concern to us. Regarding trusteeship, choosing to trust our self may be important for us. Competitiveness and owning things have their place and value, yet also being internally powerful, in tune with the wider world, with awareness that we are both individual and social beings, may be increasingly important for us. As we take ownership of our life, our feelings, health, wealth, this may make us less concerned about owning things, pointing towards a more relaxed way of living and relating, as we become more of a loving guardian or trustee of what comes our way - possessions, other people, pets, nature and the natural world resources, time, resources, even our inner child, own mind, body, sacred self or sense of spirituality. Being a trustee may include purposefully looking after resources responsibly. This may include being a loving guardian of our energy. Stewardship - expanding our responsibility in taking care of the world, looking after the planet, environment around us and caring for what we value, may also matter to us.
Responsibility In Our Relationship In our relationship, if we avoid attending to our own emotions, we may make our partner responsible for them, be tempted to blame, control them. We may block off our partner, withholding, withdrawing. Most of us want the best, so statements like "All I want is the best for your or others" may for some in unknowing ways be a subtle way of believing that things have to be on our terms or that we actually know best. When others complain about us or "go on" about something, it usually points to something needing to be resolved between us, and we may struggle to take responsibility for this, especially when we become defended, e.g. "I don't want to talk about it, because it may not matter to us, if we have difficulties talking about things. And when things get left unsaid, gridlock, deadlock & resentment can build up. Yet when one of us take responsibility and changes it also affects the other.
Taking Emotional Responsibility For Others Denying our own dependency needs, some of us may want to rescue, take the whole emotional responsibility, e.g. for others, our partner's pain & hurt (see also Codependency (Co-Dependency) - Caretaking) or try to please others, fix things. (We may also be OK giving love yet struggle to receive this.) Sensitive to others' self-abandonment we may be consumed with this, become hooked on people not attending to their own feelings and this can also give us a sense of satisfaction, purpose, boost our ego. Struggling to take our own emotional responsibility, honour our own personal boundaries, we may not recognise that an individual's feelings occur independent of us and full-heartedly believe we are responsible for others' feelings, happiness (that we can only be happy if others are) as if our self-worth, identity, personal power, confidence and esteem is wrapped up in making others happy, which can be exhausting. When we take responsibility or our own happiness, this releases us. Knowing when it's best to get involved, step in, guide or help and knowing when it's better to step back (see also The Problem Solver, Fixer - Addicted To Fixing Others), get out of the way and give others space to discover and do things for themselves is a skill. Owning our own helplessness in these situations, that we can't change, control others, can be useful reminders (see also No Longer Trying To Meet Others' Expectations). Backing off, letting go of our responsibility for others, allowing others to have and process their own experiences, may be challenging for us, yet bring our own emotional energy back to us. The therapy may explore the relationship to our own wounds, suffering, love and building a healthy relationship with ourself. The counselling can also explore if what we do helps us or limits us, how we can no longer take others' emotions personally, have both some distance and compassion, grace - allowing people their own experiences, processes and how we can be supportive in others' growing and learning, by being a sounding board and safe place for them, sharing wisdom, exploring perspectives, options, pointing ways towards future direction, so we can comfort, inspire others, lift them from our own individuated, anchored, grounded, centred place. (See also What Empathy Isn't)
Polarities Of Responsibility Some of us can take full responsibility for everything & everyone, and blame ourselves when anything goes wrong. Others take no responsibility, blaming everyone else, believing the problem lies our there, beyond them.
Preparing Our Own Conditions To Support Us Like plants, which need the right healthy conditions to thrive, so too do we. How to be self-accepting, compassionate in our own ground (without being harsh, critical or judgemental of ourselves) may be important. Freeing ourselves from unhelpful distractions, doing what we need to do to feel more at ease with ourself, so we able to self-reflect and listen to us, may help us. Our boundaries & self-discipline support us in taking personal responsibility in healthy ways. Creating the right conditions in our relationship or marriage may also be important as may seeking the supportive others, asking for what we need.
Honest Self - Evaluation, Being Honest With Ourselves Being honest with ourselves, see things for what they are - not what we believe them to be, allows us to be honest with others, our partner. When we are on our own path, honest about who we are, look at ourselves deeply and engage in some soul-searching, why we do what we do, we may also feel more relaxed (see also Peace Of Mind, Stilling Our Mind, Contentment, Inner Peace, Internal Calmness - What May Not Help). Being authentic, transparent and accountable with our own integrity may also be important to us, as may being truthful and emotionally honest in relationships - speaking, sharing our truth.
Counselling Support Counselling & psychotherapy can help us define what it means to take care and control of our self as a potent, powerful, compassionate, loving adult accessing our own internal resources. The therapy may also look at our own contributions which support our basic human needs, sense of self-worth - how we take worthwhile action for ourself & others, owning what we do, so we are in tune with us and the wider world, our interdependence.
Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.J.F.Kennedy
Specific Questions About Counselling For Self-Worth, Self-Neglect, Isolation, Self-Abandonment, Self-Acceptance, Self-Compassion & Self-Responsibility We may have some questions about finding self-worth, improving self-worth, building self-worth and increasing self-worth, self-worth therapy, e.g.:
- Isolation - how do I contribute to my sense of isolation & what can I do to feel less isolated?
- Self-worth help - why do I have low self-worth, or no self-worth at times?
- Finding self-worth - how can I improve self-worth?
- Self-worth issues, increase self-worth - what are the ways of finding self-worth, increasing self-worth, and can self-worth therapy help?
- Helpless help - Is helplessness permanent?
- Human need - How can I get my basic human needs met?
- Self-neglect - I go through periods of self-neglect - how can I get myself out of them?
- Self-responsibility - self-abandonment is something very familiar to me - how can I take self-responsibility?
- Compassion therapy - what is self-compassion therapy? And how does compassion counselling help?
- Help with courage - How can I get courage help?
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