It's Not Selfish - It's Self Preservation!
Addiction has a way of wearing us out. In a previous post, we talked about how we tend not to be able to function properly when someone close to us is an addict. We spend more time taking care of them and focusing on their needs then our own. I talked about the signs that you’re worn out and questions to ask yourself. If you haven’t read it, check it out HERE.
Let's Get Going!
Now that you have an idea of what needs your attention, choose and area that you would like to be healthier (physical, emotional, spiritual, social, or intellectual) in your life and brainstorm ideas that will help you reach that goal.
You have an idea of an area that you want to focus on and a bunch of suggestions to help you reach your goal. It is time to weed through and find the one or 2 things you feel comfortable doing. You can choose by process of elimination or pick 2 things that just jump out at you. You want to convert them into doable goals. Remember to keep the brief, simple, positive, specific and measurable, reasonable and achievable, in your control and involving skills you already have. As you choose each activity, write them down in the left column. In the right column write down why or how each activity will help you.
Set 2 self care goals for the coming week.
To improve my ______________ wellbeing this week, I will: ______________________
Example: I will go for a run 2 times this week to blow off steam and feel more tired when I go to bed. This will help me sleep better.
Do this for both activities.
Now you want to identify any obstacles that you might have that will prevent you from reaching your goals. On the left column, write down the obstacle and in the right column write how you are going to overcome or deal with the obstacle. The more obstacles and barriers you come up with and develop a plan to do cope with, the more successful you will be. You already have a plan. You don’t have to come up with it in the moment and you will have a stronger chance of meeting your goals because you have thought things through and done all the troubleshooting.
Next week you continue with the first set of self-care activities and add another area to work on following the same steps. Eventually, you will have all the areas looked after and you will feel more balanced and at ease with yourself.
I know this lesson doesn’t seem like much, but it is the foundation of recovery at this point. You have gone a very long time taking care of your addicted loved one and everyone else. It is time to spend some time concentrating on you. It will feel uncomfortable and foreign. You won’t want to do it and you will try to come up with every excuse in the book not to do it.
One of the things I have learned, not only for myself, but for all the families I have worked with, is that taking care of yourself is imperative. If you are unable to do one or two things for yourself every day, your nervous system will overload, your adrenal glands will become overworked and you will become emotionally, physically and spiritually ill. This kind of stress can lead to autoimmune disorders – I know because I have one, heart problems, sleep problems, your own addiction issues and mental illness. It is hard to be there and support an addicted loved one if you are battling stuff yourself.
If you can start taking care of yourself now, you will be better equipped to help and support your addicted loved one when he or she is ready to make changes. It takes a lot of energy – physical, emotional and spiritual – to be the one trying to motivate change. Don’t let your addicted loved one down because you haven’t done the work yourself. I know you want to be their rock so build the strength to do it.
If you have trouble coming up with a plan or need some support, please reach out. Families Do Recover has support groups with participants in similar situations to yourself. Send me an email or fill out the contact form for more information.
is a Vancouver-based Addictions Specialist and Family Therapist with training and experience in numerous areas related to healing and recovery from the devastation of addiction & alcoholism.