Self-Care and Recovery: Part 2
“Real love is a permanently self-enlarging experience.” M. Scott Peck
I have been knee deep in service to a 12 step fellowship. I’m enjoying the highs of a life of service many times while neglecting essential parts of life. In many ways, this neglect goes unnoticed. Saving lives can be used as the ultimate distraction. I’m not saying that being a sponsor and having a life isn’t the basis of life beyond our wildest dreams. I am however questioning the proportion of such servitude.
I have been overweight with a dozen sponsees and telling myself I didn’t have time to meal prep and eat healthily or devote time to exercise. I have neglected to grow and protect my business. I have personally given away thousands of dollars to “help others’ while having a credit score in the low 500’s. I have missed psychiatrist’s appointments, not sought therapy, not been present in my relationships, friendships or my family. While at the same time as carrying the emotional loads of others on a daily basis. I may have been able to teach someone how to get sober with the 12 steps but practicing the principles in all my affairs was difficult for me.
Breaking Down Self-Care
Self-care is a byproduct of self-love. Self-love is gained by the discipline of daily actions in areas of self-betterment. To simplify, being kind to myself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually is the way of self-care. Most can’t leap to self-love from where they are. Liking oneself is a more realistic starting point. We begin to like ourselves through the practice of kindness to ourselves.
Being kind to yourself physically can be done through math. Math is an oversimplification of course but still valid. Calories in, calories out. What do I put in my body nutritionally? What exercise do I do? How consistent am I? There are many ways to eat healthily and exercise that are low impact and can be done in a short amount of time.
Do the homework, pick a path and start small. I lost over 30lbs in three months by walking in the am briefly for 20 to 30 minutes, drinking a gallon of water a day and cutting out carbs by 7 pm. The most important thing is to start. Exercise is also great for your mental health.
Mental Aspect of Self Care In Recovery
Is my self-talk kind? What is my self-talk? Most people’s self-talk tends to be cynical, judgmental and pessimistic. Self-talk is changed through the saturation of positive input and learning. Picture the mind like a dirty cup of water. It’s much easier to keep pouring clean water in and allow the overflow to create diluted dirty water. There are many ways to do this.
YouTube videos, Ted Talks, Audiobooks, motivational videos, podcast, and books all work. The point is to set aside a consistent time for yourself on a schedule. If your struggling with a particular issue that you’re weak in or suffer from, start there.
Emotional Part of Self Care in Recovery
Do you feel shame? How about loneliness? Do you tell yourself “I shouldn’t be feeling this way?” Feelings are not bad or good, they are. They are always changing and always pass. Three great lessons on feelings:
- – Feelings are real.
- – Feelings are valid.
- – Feelings are not always based in fact.
Learning to identify, accept, and allow feelings without judging yourself is a practice in emotional maturity and kindness. For example: when a person falls short of eating healthy and has a piece of cake, it would be better to have two with no judgment of self. Allow yourself to enjoy it and eat healthy in the next meal than to have a one piece and be cruel to yourself labeling yourself unattractive and a loser and quit eating healthy altogether. There are many emotional practices of kindness. I like to do inner child work.
Spiritual Side of Self Care
The recovery process covers this well. Inventory, prayer, meditation, transparency through confession (the 5th step lesson), and helping others is a solid foundation. Whether you go to church or not is irrelevant. Be a seeker. The finding is in the seeking.
12 step fellowships repeat that they are spiritual, not religious programs. Spirituality is a personal experience just as developing your self-care is. They go hand in hand, and that’s another way to expand on your self-care and self-love. If you have a loving Higher Power, you can emulate that within yourself and to others. Check out self-care and recovery part 1 if you missed that blog.