Step 9 - Self-Care, Self-Love and Self-Respect (part 1)
To be balanced in life as a human being we need to have our Self-care, Self-love and Self-respect in order. The goal is to see what your current status is.
If there is anything we have not learned in our Western upbringing and education it is self-care. In our upbringing there is too much emphasis on the mind, the ratio, the reason – which cuts us off from our feelings and needs. We don’t learn to recognize and acknowledge our needs, we don’t learn to articulate our feelings.
Especially as a woman, you learn at an early age to be LOVE, EARTHY and FOLLOWING – not REAL, RIGHT and AUTHENTIC. We are afraid of losing the love, the attention of the other person if we are really ourselves. Therefore, it is generally easier for women to recognize and fulfill the needs of others than to recognize and fulfill their own needs. They cut themselves off, neglect what they really want, until they no longer feel or know it – and fall into ingrained patterns, are unhappy and unfulfilled, not realizing why.
Self-care – taking care of yourself with attention – is about all facets of your health: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. Self-care helps you function more relaxed and grounded in all areas of your life. Thus, you learn to look at yourself with love and compassion. Self-care testifies to loving yourself, self-love, daring and continuing to set boundaries as well as self-respect.
Subconsciously, we always use excuses to neglect our self-care. Too busy with children, work and housework, among other things. This leads to chronic illnesses, depression or traumatic life experiences. Until you are “flattened” so that you finally take action. An outdated perception is that self-care is interpreted as selfish or self-centered, this is talked to us!
Are you selfish when you take care of yourself? Are you not taking good care of others if you put taking care of yourself first? Are you not allowed to love yourself as much as you love others? We are raised with these misconceptions.
If you don’t love yourself, how can you love others?
Every human being has the right to their own feelings and needs, without having to be accounted for or asked for permission. The only ‘duty’ we have to our fellow man, is to name our feelings, to say what we feel – the only ‘duty’ we have to ourselves, is to try to discover our needs and then to see how we can fulfill them. In a way that we continue to respect ourselves AND the other person to the maximum. In a way that an authentic relationship is created between free, equal and responsible individuals, because that is what we all are, one by one.
Mastery of our inner life does not mean stifling our feelings, it means looking them in the face, naming them and then guiding them.
Recognizing and acknowledging our needs better enables us to understand our values, shapes them too! When our values take shape, we can articulate them, we can speak up for them, we can respect ourselves. When we respect ourselves, we assert ourselves in an honest and healthy way. When we respect ourselves, others will too, because they perceive our values and can no longer ignore them. If he or she does, it creates clarity about the relationship and we don’t have to feel bad, at least we have shown the courage to stand up for ourselves!
When we cut ourselves off from our needs, stifle our feelings, don’t take good care of ourselves, there is always someone who pays the price. Either us or the other, unfortunately usually us AND the other, causing these symptoms to manifest:
- Decreased libido
- Futility, indecision, lethargy, resignation, mental closure
- Addicted to the gaze and approval of the other, addictions in general, complete submission
- Irritability, inward or outward aggression: seeking a scapegoat, criticizing, insulting, arguing, fighting
- Muscle tension
- Chronic diseases (irritable bowel syndrome, psoriasis…)
- Neglect of family or friends
- Mind that won’t stop, thoughts that keep ‘grinding’ through
- High frequency gum chewing
- Only work, little or no fun
- No time for things that make you happy, that give you energy
- Negative and self-destructive thoughts, thinking ‘I want a different life, I want to get out’
- Low and negative self-image, no self-confidence, feeling of inferiority
Recognizing and acknowledging your needs, even if they remain unmet, can bring relief and well-being. Of all suffering, not knowing what you are suffering from is the greatest suffering.
Only when you know your needs can you satisfy them, fulfill them. That need not be at the expense of your environment, your family. On the contrary, if you know your needs and start to take them into account, you are going to help the other person, you are also going to induce the other person to express his needs. After all, it is not possible to have long-term satisfying relationships without taking into account these two needs, in yourself and the other: the need for integrity and the need for authenticity.
Wanneer verschillen tussen mensen (onze mening, ons uiterlijk, onze principes, onze voorkeuren…) als bedreigend ervaren worden, hebben velen moeite met ‘nee zeggen’ of met een ‘nee’ als antwoord krijgen. Doch ‘nee’ zeggen is – met respect voor de ander – je grenzen afbakenen, duidelijk aangeven wie jij bent en waar je voor staat. ‘Nee’ zeggen tegen de ander is ‘ja’ zeggen tegen jezelf, is je gevoel volgen in de wetenschap dat je niet anders kan, is je behoeften aangeven en je plek opeisen. Wees niet bang voor het conflict, achter de angst voor conflicten gaat bijna altijd de behoefte aan emotionele veiligheid schuil. Dus ‘Mag ik zijn wie ik ben?’ JA!
Jij bent het waard om van te houden en respect voor te hebben! Je komt op voor jezelf, je erkent jezelf. Telkens wanneer je vergeet voor jezelf op te komen, lever je een stukje van jezelf in en verlies je jezelf beetje bij beetje! Vrouwen en mannen die misbruik hebben gekend in hun prille jeugd of tienerjaren, zijn reeds vroeg hun zelfrespect verloren: hun mens-zijn werd ontkend, hun gevoelens weggelachen of weggedreigd, hun behoeften totaal genegeerd.
- Take some time to consider what your status is in terms of Self-Care, Self-Love and Self-Respect.
- Does your partner use, or threaten to use, verbal or physical abuse if he or she does not get his or her way? If so, do you realize that children take this as an example and copy the behavior?
- Does your partner force you to perform sexual acts when you do not want him or her to If yes, are you aware that this is sexual abuse within the relationship and punishable by law? This also applies when your partner abuses children. If you know about this and do nothing about it, you are an accomplice.
- Write down your reflections and experiences regarding yourself and also what the suspected status of your partner is.
- Lead time: at least 1 week.
Do you feel unsafe at home or in your relationship? In the USA you can call for help at the National Domestic Violence hotline (telephone: 1.800.799.7233). In the UK you can call the Domestic and Sexual Abuse helpline (telephone: 0808.802.1414).