We live in a society that has not taught us to be kind to ourselves. We are told to work very hard until we are at least 65 years old, and then we will be rewarded with a life of leisure, provided we have anything left in us to enjoy it. What I have experienced within myself, is this unrealistic thought that when I have worked hard enough, some person in authority will appear to notify me, that I can have a rest. But regardless of the project, or the lengths gone to, no one ever showed up to give me a blankie and some chocolates. What I have learned, and continue to re-learn, is that self-care is vitally important. Now your first thought is probably, that you are to busy. And I believe you. However, the truth is, that if you are busy, there are a lot of things/people depending on you. And as much as you try, you cannot water from a well that is dry.
What is self-care? Well, to me, self-care is specific to the person. I also believe that self-care is ever changing. Here are some suggestions on self-care you can try.
Mindfully eat/drink: orange, chocolate, hot chocolate
Guided meditation (there are several free ones on youtube)
Body scan – begin at your toes and check in with every part of you
Deep cleansing breaths
Take a relaxing bubble bath
Treat yourself to a yummy treat or nice meal
Buy yourself something nice; piece of clothing, nail polish, art supply, book
Enjoy your guilty pleasure; book, tv show, movie, etc
Sew, quilt, crochet
Paint, draw, color
Write- poem, story, music
What exactly is not self-care? Things that detract from yourself. Say that you receive an invitation to join someone for lunch, and after going to lunch, you don’t feel improved. That is okay, however that is not self-care.
With such ambiguous definition, self-care can be a daunting task. Perhaps, it would be more appropriate to view the task of approaching self-care, as being on the crest of a rollercoaster, breathing in to the intense rush. Or sitting to a fancy buffet, all for your sampling. It’s important to remember that self-care is a lifelong journey, failure in one moment is a reminder to re-engage in the next.
On June 6, 2017 we had a lunch and learn on Systems Theory, a theoretical framework used to better understand our interactions with those around us. As human beings, we are all components of various “systems”: family systems, work systems, societal systems, etc. Our systems impact us, just like we impact our systems.
Examples of System Interactions
In a family unit each member plays a role. Perhaps in one family the role of a parent is performed by a mother or a father, while in another family there is a single-parent and the role of parent is played by single-parent and the oldest child.
With siblings, each child might occupy a specific position. For example, perhaps the oldest child has more responsibilities and is meant to be an example. The youngest child might occupy a different position, such as being a companion or friend as this might be the last opportunity for parents to parent.
Boundaries is another component that makes up systems. Different types of boundaries may include: rigid, porous, or healthy. An example of a rigid boundary might be keeping others at a distance, while a porous boundary might be oversharing personal information. Most people have a mix of boundaries: for example, one might have rigid boundaries at work, but porous boundaries in romantic relationships. Click on Therapist Aid’s (2016) worksheets, linked at the bottom of this post, to see what types of boundaries you have.
Functional Analysis of Behavior
Functional Analysis of Behavior explains the concept of doing something because it works. For example, perhaps a child wants a candy bar at the store. Mom may tell the child no. The child then throws a tantrum, and mom gives the child a candy bar. The child might then learn that if he/she wants to get something, one must throw a tantrum.
Utah Healing Center’s Role
Utah Healing Center recognizes the role and subsequently the impact systems have in our individual lives. We may be pleased with the way our systems function, or perhaps we are dissatisfied. This understanding is one of the reasons why Utah Healing Center provides individual, couple, and family counseling as we see the importance of recognizing the role systems have in our lives.
Butler, M. H. (1997). System’s Theory. Family Science 250/563, 1-7.
At Utah Healing Center, our spiritual practice is client-oriented throughout the flow of therapy. As part of the initial intake, we assess a person’s level of spirituality and engagement in their chosen religion. Each of our therapists asks his/her client “how much would you like spirituality to be part of the therapeutic process?” Our providers have received various answers from “Absolutely, yes” to “None”. We believe people should have options and choices in their treatment and we encourage that the client’s specific spirituality or chosen religion should be one of them.
When our providers are asked to use spirituality or religious preference in therapy, we NEVER step over the boundaries to put them in an ecclesiastical role. We do not encourage client’s to pray, read scriptures, attend meetings, go to the temple, etc. This is the job of their ecclesiastical leader and we respect their role and judgment of the person’s spiritual needs.
Each religion is special and most religions teach a version of the golden rule. Each of our therapists are educated and understand the following teachings (MacFarlane, 2012):
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” Judeo-Christian-Levitius 19:18
“Don’t go around hurting people, and try to understand things.” Native American – Hopi Culture, the Spider Grandmother gave two rules.
“One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts.” African – Yoruba Proverb
“In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self.” Jainism – Lord Mahavir 24th Tirthankara
“The heart of the person before you is a mirror. See there your own form” Shinto
“What would you would avoid suffering yourself, seek not to impose upon others.” Greek Philosopher – Epictetus
“One should seek for others the happiness one desires for on’e self.” Buddhist
“The higher the aim and sense of human life is the striving to attain the welfare of one’s neighbor.” G.I. Gurdjieff
“All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. All is really One.” Native American – Black Eld
“No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” Sunnah – Islam
“The golden way was to be friends with the world and to regard the whole family like the members of one family.” Mahatma Gandhi
“It is a very high goal: free and responsible development of the individual, so that he may place his powers freely and gladly in the service of mankind.” Albert Einstein
“Do unto others that you would have them do unto you.” Christianity
“Treat others as you would yourself be treated.” Hinduism
“Do as you will, as long as you harm no one.”Sacred Earth
We use spirituality as a common language in therapy. The client will define spirituality and we will never push one religion or another on a client. We are able to use stories, metaphors, and vocabulary that are understandable to the client and could have deeper meaning than a secular therapeutic word.
Josh Childs, LCSW stated, an example of using stories and metaphors is the story of the Good Samaritan discussed in the New Testament of the Holy Bible. He uses this story to talk about a therapeutic principle of boundaries. In the story, the Good Samaritan brought the battered man to an “Inn”. He related to the innkeeper to take care of the man while he was away and he will return again.
Josh teaches the clients that the Good Samaritan brought the man to an “Inn”. He didn’t bring him to his house but to a place where the person could be taken care of. This could be a homeless shelter, a drug and alcohol program, a hospital, etc. The Good Samaritan didn’t stay until the man was “all better” but did what he could and left presumably to take care of matters in his own life but would return to follow up. This story teaches our clients great boundaries while helping another person.
Josh also stated that he thinks religious stories have great psychological implications and I enjoy putting on a therapist “lens” to look at them and how they can help my client.
Written by Josh Childs, LCSW & Janelle Nimer, PhD, LCSW
MacFarlane, M (2012) Sacred Stories: Wisdom from World Religions.