I find myself often advising my clients to write a list of things that they could do to nurture themselves and then do at least one a day. Many of us have been brought up by society to believe that being selfless is the way to go and you should always give to others and put yourself last. Well it’s true to some degree, giving of yourself is an important and essential part of having a meaningful life. If you only think of yourself your life can become empty and lonely. If however, you never address your own needs, you can burn out, give with a heart full of resentment and suffer from physical ailments and an unsatisfying and unfulfilled life.
Any extreme is not great. If you are too giving you end up becoming weak (within yourself). If you are too self absorbed you end up alienating people. The key is to find a middle ground.
So how does it perpetuate my vices?
When people feel overwhelmed and are not coping they tend to reach out for some sort of comfort whether it’s food, sleeping, being on their phone, watching TV, biting nails, etc.*** If used as comfort often enough they can become habits. What I have found with myself and with my clients and friends is that when we take some time to do something nurturing for ourselves, it feels as though our needs are being met and we don’t need our vices as much.
How do I know if I need to nurture myself?
When you find yourself being irritable or restless, tired, satisfying your habits ask yourself a question: What do I really need right now? When you acknowledge what it is you want then you can put some nurturing in place. For example if you are looking for every sugary snack you can find in the house and then drinking coffee and then pacing around and procrastinating – when you ask yourself what you need it might be a nap or to hydrate yourself. Once you have done one of those things you will most likely feel so much better and be able to carry on with your day with a smile on your face.
How to pre-empt the need for nurture
Eat when you are hungry, drink water, take some food in the car when you know you won’t be home for hours, have a nap when you are tired, say no (or not today) when you’ve been doing too much, go to bed at a reasonable hour. Look after yourself. A person who feels well taken care of can do much more in the world.
Taking care of yourself is not being selfish or egotistical or arrogant, it is an essential part of living.
*** Certain vices are addictions and may need help from a professional. I have not addressed these here.