For many people, the concept of self-care can feel like foreign territory. And yet, self-care is a key component to a healthful life and relationship happiness.
The issue of Self-Care in love and relationship addiction is enormous-- and is one of the primary core issues for love addicts.
Self-care and recovery go hand in hand. It is a practice or act of nurturing and caring for oneself, by consciously making choices that contribute to one's health and well-being.
The act of caring for oneself is about being mindful of personal needs and wants and taking the steps to meet them.
Love addicts have major impairments with self-care-- particularly when entangled in a romantic (addictive) relationship with someone who is critical, cold, or emotionally unavailable.
For a love addict, the lack of self-care can show up in many ways- here are a few examples:
- Not setting functional boundaries (communicating to another what is okay or not okay).
- Making choices and/or behaving in ways that go against personal values/beliefs.
- Abandoning, minimizing, or devaluing your own needs and wants.
- Trying to gain self-worth ("I matter") through a person/relationship.
- Enduring a relationship where loneliness and pain are the norm.
- Allowing a partners identity to become your own identity.
- Taking responsibility/blame for matters with which, you are not responsible.
- Declaring "love" for someone you have only known a short period of time.
- Trying to “earn” a persons approval of you.
- Tolerating uncaring, disrespectful, or abusive behaviors; and justifying such behaviors.
- Disengaging from friends/family; abandoning goals, interests, activities, etc. while in a relationship.
- Staying in a relationship with a person unable or unwilling to commit.
- Expecting yourself to be perfect partner who never makes mistakes.
Self care is critical to self-protection (think boundaries). It's is critical to gettting our needs and wants met in relationships. Self-care is critical to experiencing joy and contentment in life.
It's is about having a compassionate and loving relationship with "self". With appropriate self-care, we look after ourselves, like we would a cherished loved one.
We choose behaviors that breeds peace, satisfaction, and self-preservation in our lives.
When self-care is scarce, needs and wants are rarely or minimally met; and life is much less gratifying.
When we lack it... We yearn... We crave... We ache... We get 'stuck'... We fall apart... We even “feel crazy”.
When we lack a healthy loving relationship with ourself and our self-care tank is deficient-- then we go into relationships and lack the ability to attend to our needs and wants, and our own well-being.
Love addicts and codependents are great at taking care of others, not so great doing the same for themselves.
In relationships, while in the midst of turning away from the 'self', the love addict will turn towards their partner with laser focus and care only about making him or her happy and getting his/her needs met... this is "other care" only, and is dysfuntional.
Self-Care is analogous to taking your car to a carwash, filling your
tank, having your oiled changed, & rotating your tires.
Part of the recovery work in love addiction, is the work of fine-tuning and building self-care muscles.
If you have a pattern of toxic relationships, then it is perhaps time for you to begin strengthening your self-care muscles.
The following are 28 important self-care acts to help you start building these muscles.
28 Self-Care Acts for the Love Addict
- Never put anyone on a pedestal, above yourself-- where no one belongs.
- If it feels wrong, don’t do it.
- Trust your instincts, always.
- Stop feeling you should be ‘nice’ to everyone -- only be nice to/respect those who are nice back.
- Stop taking responsibility for any adults feelings, behaviors, or choices- they're not yours, you're not responsible, they are.
- Say NO to anything of which you are not sure.
- Say YES only to that of which you are sure.
- Never give up engaging in your own interests, goals, or passions-- for "love", or anyone.
- Engage yourself in meaningful relationships with people who are non-toxic… who are trustworthy; treat you with respect, kindness, and warm regard- ttreatment that you deserve.
- ‘Let go’ of that which you have no control... Accept that of which you do have control.
- Don’t be a people-pleaser-- it is not your in your job description.
- Never shame, devalue, or speak negative of yourself-- NO MATTER WHAT.
- Never violate your values-- consistently exercise your values, instead of just professing them.
- Stay away from negativity and relationships fraught with drama.
- Honor all your needs and wants, especially in relationships.
- Never listen to anyone who tells you how you “should” think, feel, believe, or act in your own life.
- Never tolerate any person who by word or deed, implies that you are worthless or inadequate -- NOT ANYONE!
- Never try to “earn” someone’s love or approval. You are not a slave. Who you are, is enough!
- Always be kind, gentle, compassionate to yourself— in every matter and experience life.
- Stop blaming other/'s for where you're at with your love addiction- You are not a victim (there is zero power in being a victim)- Take responsibility, own it, - you did the best you could... now go forward and learn from it, grow.
- Tell yourself five things you are grateful for (big or small) — make a daily habit of it. "I will practice gratitude to retrieve gladness”.
- Allow others to be who they are (feel, do, act)-- it is their right. Simultaneously, accept that what you observe, IS who they are.
- Stop pursuing perfection, it will destroy you-- Do what you can, with what you have, where you are, as you are; this my friend, is enough.
- Take five minutes for yourself, every day, to relax, and to connect with yourself and focus on validating/affirming yourself. “I am worthy” and “I love myself enough to make healthy choices,”
- Honor ANY/ALL of your feelings (good or bad) —feelings are neither wrong nor right, and they do not define you.
- Celebrate all of your personal accomplishments or successes , big or small/tiny even (things like your growth, recovery, positive choices or decisions, job, career... anything, for it all matters).
- Do something that brings you pleasure/; e.g., seek out a pleasure leisure activity that feels good -- and regularly participate in it.
- Allow yourself to be all that you are, no more cover-ups; plenty will love you for thatLastly, if you are a love addict— give yourself the most important gift in your lifeat this moment, the gift of recovering from love addiction.
Work with a good therapist or coach (life, relationship, or recovery coach) - a specialist in love addiction who can teach you the essential tools and insights you need to thrive, grow, and conquer your love addiction... A gift of self-compassion, self-love, and self-kindness, indeed.
* These 28 self-care acts focus primarily around relationships. While this is not a comprehensive list, my hope is this list offers you some important points and lessons in how you can start to acquire your self-care strengths on road to recovering from addictive love. Keep in mind , self-care is holistic and also expands into other important areas of our lives-- for example, relaxation, meditation, diet, rest, attending social groups, play, exercise, etc.
What Self-Care is Not:
It is Not Selfish.
It is Not Self-Pity.
It is Not Self-Indulgence.
What Self-Care is:
It is healthy
It is Self-Preservation
It is Self-Value/Love
It is A Right!
Bottom-line: “If self-care is not an essential part of your life. If you don’t treat yourself with kindness and respect, then how could you expect others to do the same?"
No one can do it for you, but you.
When people neglect themselves, it leads to resentment, anger, unhappiness, and certainly toxic/hurtful relationships.
We cannot truly function in a healthy, nurturing manner unless self-care becomes an indispensable part of our lives.
Self-care is vital for your health and well-being. Moreover, it is critical for healthy and happy relationships.
When we have a healthy relationship with ourselves, we can have happier, healthy relationships with others.
You’re worthy of love and belonging-- and you're worthy of taking care of YOU.
Self-care is NOT selfish, vain, or egotistical. If ever you have a voice in your head that says something like, “I am being bad and selfish if I focus, and care about my needs/wants, and put myself first”— then please understand this type of thinking is a lie.
This kind of voice is a “false message” you received by someone in your past (growing up).
You unknowingly internalized this lie ("I'm bad if I care about my needs") as a truth, and did so because you were powerless and did not know any better.
So understand, this voice is not yours, but a shame-based person/'s from your past— if it ever comes up, disown it, trash it, and call it what it is, a gigantic lie.
Learning to care for yourself will likely startle some others around you. Because you are beginning to change your dysfunctional patterns to new healthier patterns (self-care), they will feel uncomfortable, perhaps resentment or anger (not your problem).
They may try shaming you, calling you a narcissist, and/or try to make you feel guilty during the times you are taking care of yourself.
Smile at their projection, scoff at it—this not about you, but is only abundantly (only) about their emotional/unresolved issues.
Self-Care Will Help You Grow, Thrive, And Live A Healthier, Happier Life.
As an adult, you and only you are responsible to take care of you. Only you can honor that right.
The right to feel, say, and do what YOU choose in order to grow, thrive, and live your best life possible.
And no other person has a right to say otherwise-- and just in case anyone does, then do what you rightly need to do, “take care of you.”
Learning to better care for ourselves is about growing up-- meaning we can get up off our feet, make the choice to value ourselves, value our lives, and value our true wants and needs.
Growing up is making the choice to take action and behave in manners that only contribute to our health, happiness, and wellbeing.
There is no better time to begin your Self-Care journey than NOW... No better time to make yourself- your needs- your wants, and your well-being, a priority.
Changing our unhealthy habits to healthy habits (self-care) can take time-- and that is okay, just stay on that dignified road.
You’re worthy of love and belonging-- and you're worthy of taking care of YOU. Self-care is something you are entitled too. It is what you deserve.
And YES, making the choice on your own behalf, to do 'what it takes' to overcome the problem with love addiction is A Significant Act For Your Self-Care … A Gift that will last you a lifetime.