Being assertive, implementing healthy boundaries, and saying no, are all forms of self-care Why? Because you are attending to your own emotional needs.
For many people, saying no to other people is really difficult. For some people there is fear that the person will 'not like them' or 'will not want to be their friend/partner'. For others there are unhelpful beliefs operating such as 'If I look after myself I am being selfish' or 'I do not deserve to be happy'. Sometimes these thoughts and beliefs are conscious, but often they are operating outside of our awareness.
Self-Care is about recognising our own needs and doing our best to nurture those needs. Of course it is not possible to have all of our needs met every day. Especially in relationships, families, and workplaces where other people's needs are present too. BUT it is imperative for each person to find the balance that works for them. I work with my clients to determine their most important emotional needs, what they are doing to nurture them, and what is preventing them from nurturing them (if relevant).
Often another person may be involved in our efforts to look after ourselves. For example, in a relationship. Many people find it difficult to nurture their own needs in a relationship because their partner's needs are different. This can lead to fear and guilt. It is important to sit with fear, and guilt until it passes, and try to clearly communicate your needs.
"I can hear that you would like to go to the cinemas tonight, but I am feeling really tired and sleep is important for me right now. How about we go tomorrow night, or perhaps one of your friends will go with you tonight?"
With everything in life, we can only do our best to find a happy medium. An important part of nurturing our own needs without upsetting others is to be assertive. When people master assertiveness, they are able to explain clearly what their need is, and why it is important for them to nurture it. Assertiveness is a skill psychologists can help you to develop.
How people respond to your assertiveness is their responsibility. Those people who truly care, will understand the importance of your self-care.
How to Engage in Self-Care
1. Recognise what your needs are. What helps you to feel fulfilled, relaxed, or meaningful? Make time for these things.
2. Do your best to help significant others understand your behaviours (assertiveness).
3. Recognise that the way a person responds to your self-care is their own responsibility. 4. Compromise sometimes. You decide when. This will help create a balance and sense of cohesiveness and commitment with your partner/friends.
5. Remember that it is mostly our own responsibility to take care of ourselves. If you do not look after you, who else will?
6. Most importantly recognise any feelings of guilt or fear that comes with self-care. Continue to engage in self-care anyway. Facing these feelings head usually helps diffuse them in time.
To book an appointment in Padbury with Nicole to discuss your self-care, or the challenges of self-care please call 04 743 23 092.