Okay, my loyal blog readers, here’s Part III in my series about self-care and self-acceptance – those critical conduits, the direct line to any successful love relationship – starting with yourself.
Here’s 7 more practical suggestions, or “how to” actions to increase your self-love and acceptance, not to mention a great way to attract a terrific life partner:
BALANCE WORK & PLAY
One of the best ways on your path to self-care is to develop a healthy, balanced lifestyle and a daily routine.
Too many of us have out-of whack, crazy, skewed lifestyles; we don’t make enough time for leisure, recreation, travel, relationships, family, social activities, spiritual pursuits, and sleep.
And that brings up the subject of work.
So many of us are literally killing ourselves working hundred-hour-plus work weeks! And for what? Money? Prestige? (Disease?)
Have you ever wondered how so many of us were ever lured into such a destructive “overkill,” “break-your-neck” work ethic? Work addiction is one of the most insidious, widespread, highly addictive, and ironically accepted lifestyles found in our world today − certainly in American culture.
I believe that more stress-related diseases and unhappy relationships can be attributed to this over-emphasis on work than to any other aspect of today’s modern world. That’s a big statement, but it’s true.
If you’re working more than fifty hours a week (and eating standing up), you probably won’t have much time for fun, spontaneity, or any of the essential elements to a happy, well-balanced lifestyle. And you’ll have a lot less time to meet others.
Unbalanced lifestyles and sane relationships simply don’t mix!
SLOW IT DOWN!
We’re always on the run; we go, go, go, rarely taking time to slow down.
And exactly where are we going? Are we in some kind of macabre “race to the grave”? So, what’s the rush? Do we really have to buy into the ever-quickening pace of today’s hurry-up society? I don’t think so…
What if we made a conscious decision to slow it down instead of revving up the pace of our life? So we didn’t finish everything on our daily “To Do” list. So what if we only check our e-mails five times a day?
Maybe we’d have fuller lives and more time to think… clearly!
So, stop and smell those beautiful, fragrant roses. (Maybe bring a dozen to your partner?) Enough is enough! Slow it down already!
BUILD FAMILY SUPPORT & FRIENDSHIPS
The support of friends and family can act as a guide and source of inspiration while you’re learning to take better care of yourself.
After all, we human beings were not meant to live in isolation. We’re social beings, and we have a strong inner need to connect with one another – we’re wired for it.
Now, if you don’t have the luxury of supportive family and friends, try seeking out this kind of nurturing in new places and various social settings. You may want to find groups and organizations friendly to your cause, such as churches, synagogues, self-help meetings, yoga centers, and meet-up groups, just to mention a few.
Some of us will need to build relationships with others who can serve as “surrogate” mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers.
After all, no man is an island, and we all need that warm fuzzy nurturing to move through life’s inevitable slings and arrows.
If you really want to take care of yourself, get out of yourself!
Spiritual traditions throughout time have told of the illusory separation between self and other, and taught us that seeing ourselves in others through conscious service closes the gap, allowing us to experience a richer, fuller expression of our primal connection to humanity.
Opening up to this shared connection through service is beneficial for both you and those you help, for the simple fact that it affirms the cyclical bond between all of humanity, a true and meaningful connection.
There are few things more healing and rewarding than helping those in need, whether it’s serving food at a homeless shelter or just lending an ear to a troubled friend.
It’s a great way to get up and out into the community to meet others who share your values. You never know who you might meet – a prospective life partner, perhaps?
MAYBE THERAPY/COUNSELING/LIFE COACHING?
If you find yourself dealing with some deeper psychiatric issues like clinical depression, low self-esteem, high anxiety, addictions, or any serious grief-causing crisis, a visit with your local psychiatrist may be best. You don’t have to be crazy to seek help!
Many people, including shrinks themselves, routinely seek out professional help for the kinds of challenges that we all face.
Search around, and we’re sure that you’ll find every kind of help under the sun. You never have to be alone on your journey to “new-and-improved” self-care!
In order to set yourself in a more positive direction, sometimes it’s necessary to understand the bigger picture. When dealing with relationship issues, emotions, thoughts, life transitions, or inner conflicts, there’s nothing like a good therapist, counselor, mentor, or life coach to help you attain a more positive perspective.
It’s up to you to shop around for the best “life helper” who fits your personal style of communication and learning, whether it entails a more directive or a more self-determined approach.
For some individuals, it may be a certain therapeutic technique such as cognitive-behavioral therapy that’s more helpful, while a more in-depth analytical style may be indicated for others (what does that dream you keep having really mean?)
Some may require a more group-oriented experience, while others might make better progress in an individual one-to-one therapeutic setting.
For those entering into the HMP with a new “love,” couples’ counseling may be your best bet. Even practices like positive affirmation and Emotional Freedom Technique (or “tapping,” as it’s affectionately called) can be immensely helpful, and you can try them all by yourself.
THE 12-STEP PROGRAM OF RECOVERY
One of the most daring and successful social experiments of the twentieth century was the founding and proliferation of the 12-Step Recovery Program.
Millions of people have experienced welcomed relief, true friendship, and remarkable life change through this innovative self-help program.
If you’re dealing with any addiction, compulsion, or obsession, whether it be of the substance or non-substance variety (such as work addiction, compulsive gambling, internet sex, or love addiction), then a strong program of Recovery might just be the kind of support that you’ve been “craving”.
It’s always a good idea to face these kinds of issues before even thinking about entering into any serious love relationship.
Either way, it’s your call.
There’s probably a 12-Step group out there tailor-made for you. Try it; you might like it!
SHED THE SHAME
This may be a blunt statement, but so many of us just don’t think much of ourselves.
In fact, too often, we’re ashamed of ourselves; like we don’t measure up, don’t deserve the good things in life − not even love.
John Bradshaw, in his first book, Healing the Shame That Binds You, writes extensively about the idea of “toxic shame” and the damage it causes to our souls, our very beings: “To have shame as an identity is to believe that one’s being is flawed, that one is defective as a human being. Once shame is transformed into an identity, it becomes toxic and dehumanizing.”
The self-care practices that we’ve suggested above – affirming your innate worth, finding your place in the cosmos, honoring your connection to all beings, serving others, viewing the glass as half full − are the ultimate antidote to such self-corroding shame.
In this way, self-care naturally serves as a powerful pathway to relationship success.
Since self-care and acceptance is all about taking action, I won’t keep harping on ideas and theories; it’s time for you to really practice it!
With that in mind, here’s one more quote that really sums it all up on the oh so critical subject of self-care and self-acceptance, from the wizened soul of John Bradshaw:
“Total self-love and acceptance is the only foundation for happiness and the love of others.”
Now, the next step is to put what you’ve learned after reading these series of blogs into daily practice – for you, your partner, or that” special one” you’ve yet to meet.