Why is it so hard to treat yourself well?


Taking care of yourself
Self-care. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

If self-care is so important, why is it so hard to do?

Good self-care is hugely connected to good mental health. Learning stress reduction techniques can improve your mental health and reduce the risk of burning out. Despite all the documented benefits of self-compassion and self-care, many people continue to push themselves relentlessly. Learning to take good care of yourself and show yourself kindness is a significant part of a happy and productive life.

Were you taught to take care of yourself?

Early life experiences set up patterns for the rest of our lives. If the people who should’ve taken care of you treated you poorly, you learned to treat yourself that way. People who have experienced abuse or neglect may have or internalize the message that they didn’t deserve to be treated well. You may have been taught that suffering was a virtue, and you find it hard to embrace happiness.

Even families that provided love and adequate care may have given you the message that you weren’t good enough. Some parents seem to think that the way to get a child to do better is to point out all their faults. There’s a myth out there that praising a child will cause them to become conceited. But if no one praised you for anything, you did well, and everything you did wasn’t good enough. You may have internalized the message that you were not good enough.

Your danger detector is turned up too high.

If you’ve grown up poor or lived in a dangerous environment, you may be on constant alert. High levels of stress hormones keep all your danger detection circuits active. When you’re hypervigilant, on a constant lookout for what could go wrong, self-soothing and self-care don’t happen.

If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, you may feel guilty about self-care. People who have adopted the high anxiety lifestyle choose to worry about everything that could go wrong in the mistaken belief that this will keep them safe. They live in a constant state of high alert. Doing anything that might lower that anxiety may make you feel guilty or unsafe.

You are too busy surviving to notice you are running on empty.

Sometimes the day-to-day struggles become so overwhelming that taking time for self-care seems like a waste of time. When life is a struggle, self-care may be something you tell yourself you don’t have time for. You may be so busy listening to your inner critic that you haven’t had time to take stock of what you need. You may not have realized that self-care was an option.

Have you turned suffering into a virtue?

Some people are so used to believing that life must be full of suffering that as soon as life goes well, they start to feel guilty. Some people just can’t bear to stop working long enough to have fun. You may have internalized the attitude that self-compassion will make you soft and weak. Taking good care of yourself both mentally and physically is not being self-indulgent.

Practicing self-compassion can be scary.

Change is usually scary, even when that change moves us in the direction of better health. Caring about yourself may be a new feeling for you. If you weren’t taught self-compassion, or those around you didn’t demonstrate it to you, it may be hard to recognize. Self-compassion is a skill you can learn. Like all skills, you may not be perfect at first, but the more you practice self-compassion, the better your life will become.

Would now be a good time to start practicing self-compassion?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seems like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

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