Self-care, Why Sometimes its Difficult
More and more we are being exhorted to ensure we maintain a good level of self-care, to consider our needs and to respond to stresses in our lives.
This isn’t about being selfish or not being concerned with others but making sure that we do not neglect ourselves.
This is particularly important, and emphasised, when you are struggling with mental health issues. therapists, peer group facilitators and Online chat moderators all emphasise the need for self-care. This is particularly true when a difficult or ‘triggering’ topic is being approached.
But many people find it difficult to ‘self-care’, to focus on their own needs and requirements and to make sure they are, and remain, safe. I count myself amongst these people.
So, what is it that makes Self-Care so difficult for some?
Obviously, the reasons will be different for everybody but perhaps others may see some of the issues I face in their own struggle.
One of the big stumbling blocks for me is that Self-Care is predicated on the idea that you are deserving of care, that you are deserving of having your needs met and that you are deserving of not being neglected. This is obvious you may think! How can anybody not believe that they deserve to be neglected or don’t deserve to have their needs met?
Well for many adults that were abused as children that is exactly how they feel about themselves. Child abuse is often accompanied by both neglect, emotional and often physical, and a sustained campaign aimed at destroying the child’s self-belief.
This leads inexorably to an adult who simply doesn’t not believe that he is worthy of nice things happening to him and that neglect is right and proper. When the child was emotionally neglected, which almost certainly will accompany the abuse, the child will learn not to expect love and will come to believe that he does not deserve love.
The adult, believing he doesn’t not deserve love but does deserve to be neglected will find any sort of self-care impossible and even more will reject any attempt by others to either provide that care or simply convince him that he is worthy.
If the now adult does take time out for himself then next comes the guilt, making it that much harder for his to self-care in the future.
As is usual with attempting to work with the damage done by childhood abuse the answer is both simple and almost impossible to express. The now adult needs to convince that inner child that he, or she, is deserving of all the things that was denied him, all the love and care that was withheld.
It is only when that inner child begins to believe that he is loved and valued that the now adult can begin the journey to self-love, self-value and self-care.