Monday, July 18, 2011

How Do We Nuture Ourselves?

"What do you need?"
"What do you want?"

These questions are so hard for me, I have the hardest time coming up with answers.  When I do come up with something I feel guilty about it.  I was talking with my husband last week about this and he asked me if I resent it when he takes time to do what he wants to and I said no, of course not.  Then he wondered why I would feel guilty about doing what I want to do.  I told him that I see that he needs to relax and do fun things after work, I can see how my children need to do the same thing after stressful days of school.  But, for some reason, I cannot allow myself to do the same thing.  I love them and see that they are worth some time for themselves.  I guess I just don't love myself in the same way, it's almost as if I see myself as a lesser being, they are worth more in my eyes, than I am.

Logically I can see how that doesn't seem quite right, but it doesn't change the fact that I don't see that I'm just like everyone else, that I need fun and relaxation too.  But I feel that if I take time for myself it seems so very wrong.  I don't totally understand my feelings in this situation, but, again, logically I see that they are wrong, I'm just having a hard time emotionally believing it.

Nurturing ourselves can be difficult for women in general, mothers even more challenging and for co-dependents, nearly impossible.  The problem is that if you don't take some time to nurture yourself you cause emotional and physical damage to your body.  I'm so grateful for the Lord's command that we worship and "rest" on the sabbath day.  It is the only time I actually allow myself to rest without feeling guilty.  But the Lord has also commanded that we not "run faster than we have strength."  I am not so good at that one.  Over the years I have pushed myself beyond my strength over and over again and found myself challenged with physical problems because of it.  We are told to rest for a reason, our bodies and minds need it.  I have to remind myself that my body needs time to recuperate.  That my mind needs release from all that I think about, worry about, etc.  I understand all this, but struggle implementing it.

Here is a great quote from Co-Dependent No More by Melodie Beattie: 

How do we nurture ourselves?  Of all the blank spots we have, this one is often the blankest.  If we've never seen, touched, tasted or felt it, how could we know what nurturing is?  Nurturing is an attitude toward ourselves - one of unconditional love and acceptance.  I'm talking about loving ourselves so much and so hard the good stuff gets right into the core of us, then spills over into our lives and our relationships.  I'm talking about loving ourselves no matter what happens or where we go. . . .  Nurturing is how we empower and energize ourselves, we can relax enough to do our best. . . .  There isn't a set of instructions for nurturing ourselves.  But if we ask ourselves what would help us feel better or what we need, then listen, we'll hear the answer.

How is it that I can love and nurture those that I love and not myself.  How can I love my family so much and "so hard the good stuff gets right into the core" of them, but not myself?  I'm still working on that, but what I can do is take small steps to nurture myself.  I can ask myself what I want, what I need and really listen, then do it, regardless of the guilt.  Just as Melodie Beattie said above that nurturing can be hard if it is not something you have much experience with, but it's a matter of practice.  Time to practice giving myself what I need, and, as they say, practice makes perfect.

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