May 14, 2014
by Caleen Martin
1.devoted to or caring only for one self; concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, welfare,etc.,regardless of others.
2.characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for one self: selfish motives.
When you are diagnosed with any health condition that involves long-term chronic pain you are required to change the way you care for yourself. The people and things in your life that need your attention remain the same; however, how you give your attention will need to be re-evaluated. Selfish is the word that comes to mind.
Being selfish has always been considered a trait to avoid. We're taught to give to others, to be selfless and caring. Many times however, we take our selfless acts to such an extreme that we are giving to others at the expense of our own welfare. This happens most often with our children and partners. We feel guilty when we aren't there for those we love when they want us there. So what do you do when the demands on your time do not change?
The first step is to redefine the term selfish. It does not mean you are devoid of caring for others but it does mean that you come first. This is as it should be. How can you expect to be there for anyone if you cannot first be there for yourself? This will require a shift in your perception. Being selfish is not something to avoid but to embrace. It is not something to feel guilty about but to feel proud of. You will be showing your loved ones by example that the most important thing they can do for themselves is to care for their physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. By doing so, they will accomplish what so many of us have lost sight of; being completely present in the moment. Thinking first, then responding. Finding joy in the simple pleasures life gives us.
Life will take on a new light, it will hold new possibilities because your physical and emotional needs will be fulfilled. What so many of us get caught in is a cycle of repressing our feelings. We don't openly state our needs and then become more depressed and angry when they aren't magically met. That stops now.
Start by making a list of:
What must you get done on a daily basis?
Can anyone else assist you with any of the above listed items?
What things in your life do you feel responsible for but should be holding others responsible for doing?
What items can you delegate or remove from your 'to do' list?
What items are simply too much for you now?
Are your emotional needs being met? What can you do to fix that? (ie: going to therapy, meditating, yoga, gardening, talking to loved ones and really feeling like they are listening)
Once you have your list complete you need to sit down with your family and have an open and honest discussion about everything you've listed. You can be honest without being hurtful, you can choose to trust that your loved ones will see the legitimacy of your needs and help to insure you're getting the care and help you need. And most importantly, make sure they know that you expect their help. This isn't something you want in order to get out of doing chores or helping out, you need these things in order to live as productive a life as you can while managing your condition.
Stick to the plan
When the plan is in place, do not sabotage yourself by taking back what you've just removed from your plate. This means that if the kitchen hasn't been cleaned yet, do not get angry and clean the kitchen. This can be one of the hardest steps. We get into the habit of doing things a certain way and within a certain time frame but others aren't going to do things our way, they'll do them their way. So take a deep breath and realize that this is your issue that you need to work on. Maybe you need to stay clear of the kitchen until after it's been cleaned or just give yourself a gentle reminder that it's just a messy kitchen. No one is dying because of the mess so it really doesn't warrant that much of your attention. Stick to the plan, let others take care of what they said they would and have faith that they will do as they said.
The emotional side of things
Extreme self-care also involves loving ourselves completely and without prejudice. We all have our faults and issues but that is no reason to kick yourself when you're already down. You need to really get in touch with your inner self. See and feel your unique beauty on a daily basis. It can be hard to find anything about yourself to like, let alone love when dealing with chronic pain but a practiced mindset will become realized way of living if you remain consistent. Some things you can do to help:
Look in the mirror every day, look directly into your eyes and say, 'I love you'.
Start a daily journal about love.
Write a gratitude list and add to it on a daily basis.
Spend some time alone (without the television or computer) doing something that makes you feel good.
By taking these steps, even for just 30 days, you'll see and feel a remarkable difference. You'll notice that you can manage your life and care for yourself and your health. Selfishness is no longer a bad thing but a necessary component to living the best life you can. We all need to take these steps in order to give ourselves the love and care we truly deserve.