The First Step to Self-Care

The First Step to Self-CareOkay folks, we’re going to take a little journey together (if you’re willing). It is a journey to a place called “balance.”  And we get there by walking a path called “self-care.”  Say goodbye to your old patterns of behaviour. Say goodbye to harmful old relationships, places of work, and miscellaneous other people, places and things that undermine you and your sense of peace and happiness. Once you start down Self-Care Lane you won’t be needing or wanting to return. I guarantee you! For the next month, we’re going to be putting one foot, gently but firmly, in front of the other to create a life that is balanced, peaceful, and honoring who you really are and what you truly deserve in life. Our journey begins with you taking a few minutes to get clear on where you are now. Then we’ll take a look at where you’d like to be and fill in the spaces between step-by-step so you’ve got a clear path that leads you towards lasting change at a pace that is right for you. So, step 1.  You can use your computer or a piece of paper/notebook/journal/toilet paper….anything will do – just get started!
  • Make a list of the key roles you have in your life right now. What are the areas that require your attention or that you’d like to be able to give your attention to on a regular basis? My list looks something like this: Mother; Daughter; Partner; Counsellor; Author; Friend/Family member; Musician; Individual; Volunteer; Community Member.
  • Now for each of those key roles that you want to make space for each week/month, make a list of things you currently actually do regularly in those areas towards the maintenance of health in that area or that relationship. What do you do for your relationship as a parent, family member, friend, individual etc. daily, weekly, monthly to maintain those relationships and honor your values as best you can right now?
  • Now make a list, for each key role, of what you’d ideally like to see yourself doing each day, week, month, year in order to feel that you were really living your life as you’d like to. What would you be doing in each of those roles if you were genuinely at peace and honoring your values in each of those areas?
  • Now look again at the list of what you’re really doing day to day/week-to-week and compare that to what you’d like to see yourself doing if you were living your life to the fullest and genuinely proud of your life in all areas. There will likely be at least one point in each role (if not a few) that needs some attention in order for you to feel like you’re doing your best for yourself and the people in your life.
  • These are your goals. Whether you knew it consciously before this moment or not, these are the goals you have in the different areas of your life that, until fulfilled (or let go) will prevent you from feeling truly peaceful. This is because whenever we have a goal or a belief in our heads that we need to be doing something differently or experiencing something other than what we are experiencing, we feel anxious; unsettled. I call it the Permeating Level of Anxiety (or P.L.A.). We feel like something’s wrong and we just can’t relax. It’s like we’re on guard for something bad to happen or to suddenly remember something important that we forgot. This sensation of P.L.A. makes us focus on food and body image if we aren’t aware of what’s really triggering it: A lack of integrity from our unmet goals or lack of follow-through on honoring our values. Getting clear on what you are telling yourself you should be doing differently (in the form of your ultimate goals versus your present day reality) is really the key step in beginning to replace your P.L.A. with peace and your use of food to cope with fulfilling, life-enhancing behaviours. So, now that you know how important it is to your overall recovery process, take a few minutes to pull out each goal from each role and clearly articulate it in the present positive.
    • If you notice that in your role as friend, you don’t make much effort to call and stay in touch with people you genuinely like and enjoy time with. Right now, you might be calling them maybe once every other month, but your ultimate goal may be to see yourself making the space to call friends two times a week for half an hour each time (your goal may be more or less often and longer or shorter periods of time – really listen to what you feel is right). You would articulate your overall goal this way: I consistently and happily make space in my life to connect with my friends twice a week for half an hour.
    • If you notice in your role as an individual, you would like to see yourself ideally exercising four times a week, and currently, you’re lucky if you go once, your goal statement would look like this perhaps: I consistently and happily exercise my body for half an hour or more four times a week in a variety of fun and enjoyable ways.
This week, your task is to clarify where you are now; what your ultimate goals are in each key role in your life, and state them clearly in the positive present (as in the examples above). Next week you’re going to take your list of goals and your increased conscious awareness of where you are now in relationship to those goals and together we’re going to identify three steps that you will take to get from here to there. We’ll take that ultimate goal and break it down into realistic, doable steps so that you can see very clearly how you’ll achieve your goal and when.  After that we’ll start putting together a gentle schedule so that you can begin to see clearly where your time currently goes and how to begin to fit those pieces that are important to you into your already full life in a way that feels like it creates more space rather than asks more of an already-maxed-out you. This is a valuable exercise and because I know how valuable it is, I’m sharing it with you. Take advantage of this gift. And if you’d like to move faster or have some support that is specific to your personal process call me or email to arrange for a session.  I welcome the opportunity to support you to be the very best that you can be in all areas of your life. It is my goal as a counselor and it is the purpose of the CEDRIC Centre. Whether you prefer one-on-one counselling (in-person, by phone, or email), our intensive and transformative workshops, or the  self-help approach, take action today to have a stress-free relationship with food. Love Michelle

Posted in: CEDRIC Centre, Relationship with Others, Relationship with Self

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  1. Avis August 30, 2009

    Interesting ~ coincidental ~ timely ~ …my husbnad and I were just talking yesterday about the life demands on my time and energy. I found myself justifying and defending all that I do. This exercise should help me oome up with a game plan because right now, I am frustrated and tired. I love to quilt and play with colour – and haven’t found/made the time in well over …. 1.5 years! OUCH I will let you know how this goes Cheers

  2. Michelle Morand August 30, 2009

    Hi Avis! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on the article and how it fits for you and your world right now. Balance is the key and making sure all aspects of ourselves are attended to is such an important part of feeling fulfilled, passionate, alive and peaceful! I look forward to your updates over the next few weeks!

    Hugs! M

  3. Wendy October 8, 2009

    Perfect place to come to when I have just been dreaming and waking with all or nothing thinking, self care… an interesting prospect, thanks Michelle.

  4. Nadine November 17, 2009

    Hi Michelle,
    I just went through the exercise and I was struck by something. I feel pretty solid in most of my roles except that of me as an individual. In that role I had a long list of things I would like to do…be more artistic, eat better, exercise more, watch less TV, read more, meditate etc… These are things that I have always judged myself as coming up short, and given that this was the only role that needed improvement I couldn’t help but wonder if this was just me expecting perfection from myself. Me not doing those things allows me to be judgmental of myself. How do I tell if it is something to move towards or something to try to let go of?



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