Create your own Self-Care Support System
My work life is changing in a really big way. My body is giving me very clear messages that massage therapy and other very physical forms of bodywork are no longer in my future; I am officially, clearly, extra crispy finished with massage therapy. At this time I am feeling physically weak and in pain, and I begin my therapy regimen to mend my shoulders, neck and hands/wrists next week.
Not only am I healing, but I’m dreaming and shifting and integrating my work in a way that feels big and scary and exciting. Stay tuned my friends. I am removing my Life Rhythm CST (Holistic Center) website and will move it a little at a time over to my Southern Herbalist website.
And through all of this excitement in my life, I have felt deeply supported, loved, affirmed and encouraged. I realized that over the years, I have created a kickass self-care support system. Here’s how I did it.
The back of this book offers a way for you to create your own self-care “first aid kit”. Take a few moments to answer these questions. Keep this list handy and, when you feel like your world has flipped, use it.
1. Who do you call when you are afraid, unsure of yourself or simply need confirmation about something that is distressing to you? Who allows you to have your experience/emotions without telling you what to do? If you can’t think of someone immediately, consider developing a Support Partner (*see part 2 of this post)
2. Who do you need to stay away from? Who makes you feel “triggered” or unsafe, or simply tends to feed negativity?
3. Listen to your body’s signals. What do you need to feel fully supported, nurtured, nourished and strong?
4. What habits do you have that no longer serve you? What nourishing act can you give yourself as a replacement?
5. What spiritual act can you do in order to deepen your connection with the Divine at this time?
6. What commitments can you allow someone else to take over for you so that you can have more time for rest and restoration?
7. How can you best express your needs and feelings so that your loved ones don’t have to wonder how they can best support you?
8. What do you need in order to feel comforted at this time?
9. What small action can you take to bring yourself and your emotions into a place of “neutral”? Breathing techniques? Awareness exercises? Guided meditations? Prayer? Mantras?
10. What is your best healthy distraction when you need a break from a stressful situation?
These questions are inspired from Cheryl’s book. All credit is given to her and I strongly encourage you to get her book. She rocks my Wonder Woman socks. She also has some beautiful Grace Cards and Self Care Cards.
*What is a Support Partner?
Support Partners are people who have earned the right to hear your most private feelings and your most vulnerable stories. Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, has taught me a great deal about vulnerability, connection, shame and courage. Her work inspired a blog post that I created a few years ago, and I am sharing it with you now. Get her books. Really. Her research changed the way I see the world and my place in it.
Be very very careful about getting into someone else’s business.
And be very very careful about whom you let into your business.
When we are involved in someone else’s business, we are not living in our own space… we are living and acting and reacting from theirs. When we analyze others’ issues, we are not living in our own business. We are distracting ourselves with their business (many times because we don’t want to deal with what’s in our own lives). *that was tough to say, but I had to both say it and own it.*
What we need (and what we need to become for another) is a “Support Partner“. We don’t need 20 of them; only one or two close friends that we can exchange with in a non-analytical and non-judgmental way. Let me tell you what “support partner” is.
1. A support partner is fully present with you, listens to you objectively and without judgment, and holds supportive emotional space for you.
2. A support partner has an agreement with you around these clear and loving boundaries and roles, and does not deviate from them.
3. A support partner keeps your personal life private. Period. Period.
4. A support partner comforts you and allows you to have your feelings without “fanning emotional flames”. You probably shouldn’t select them as support partners if they tend to say (and mean it), “Hell yeah, let’s go cut his tires!”, okay? Those friends are fun, but they’re not who we are talking about here.
5. A support partner knows that YOU know it is your responsibility to make decisions and changes in your life. Therefore, it is not your support partner’s job to tell you what to do, to tell you that your life sucks and here’s how to fix it, etc.
6. This is not a club to join. This is a relationship with one person. I mean it. The more ain’t merrier with this relationship.
Here’s how to develop an awesome Support Partner relationship:
1. Connect with your friend *you know, the one you trust to be non judgmental, is compassionate, and knows how to keep her mouth shut and her comments to herself. yeah, that one.*
2. Talk to that person about what a Support Partner is and extend an invitation to be in a supportive relationship with you. When your partner is in need, you get the call/text/email asking for a chat time. When you are in need, you send a call/text/email asking for a chat time.
3. Schedule the time… it can be immediately… but it can ONLY be when the support partner is in an emotional space where he or she can be fully present with you. Most often, that will not be immediately. Therefore, a support partner does not have a revolving door. Respect each other’s time and schedules for the best possible relationship.
And, my dear, until you can give this courtesy in return, please don’t initiate this relationship with another.
I have a handful of friends whom I trust so much that, if any one of them called me and said, “I’m at (place), I need you now,” and hung up the phone, I would be there immediately. And I would know that they would never do that to me unless they absolutely needed my physical presence. I could do the same to any of them and the exact same thing would happen. And one of mine lives over 10 hours from me. We have that level of trust in each other.
That is what a Support Partner relationship develops into.
I give the deepest gratitude for my loving relationships, and I encourage you to develop your own beautiful, life enriching relationships. *and honor the ones you already have*