In the end, that is the whole premise of self-care.
To take care of yourself. To understand what you need and be able to ask for it. Getting it may be something different, but the asking is important.
Wanting to better understand boundaries and self-care, of course, I Googled it. Here is the last part of an article I found on the subject.
How can you begin to overcome feelings of guilt and begin to prioritize your own needs?
As you begin to change and recover from codependency, you’ll want to pay attention to your thoughts and behavior – challenging yourself to think about things differently and taking small steps to behave in new ways that reflect your increasing self-respect and self-understanding.
- Remember that boundaries are a healthy form of self-care. You’re less likely to feel guilty when you remember that everyone has needs and taking care of yourself is a healthy choice. There is nothing wrong with looking out for yourself! Obviously, eating more vegetables is a healthy choice; you wouldn’t feel guilty about it. Well, setting boundaries that help you stay mentally and physically healthy are no different; there’s no reason to feel guilty about doing something that’s good for you.
- Setting boundaries and practicing self-care benefit those around you, too. That’s right, boundaries and self-care are good for everyone – not just you. Setting boundaries strengthens relationships. Things run more smoothly when expectations are clear and others feel respected when you communicate your needs and expectations clearly. And when you take care of yourself, you’re healthier and happier. Everyone benefits when you have more energy and patience, are less reactive; and have fewer resentments.
- Tune into your needs. It’s nearly impossible to set boundaries and practice self-care if you don’t know what you need. Tuning into your thoughts, feelings, and physical body will help you do this. Intentionally pause several times per day to ask yourself: “How do I feel? What do I need?” When you have a better sense of how you feel and what you need, it will be easier to set boundaries and practice self-care.
- Practice, practice, practice. Setting boundaries is a skill and like any other skill, the more you practice the easier it becomes. Expect that it will feel uncomfortable in the beginning, but stick with it!
- Self-compassion. Trying to take better care of yourself and learn new skills is hard work. Be sure to give yourself plenty of self-compassion and encouragement.
- Don’t expect yourself to be perfect. Setting boundaries and practicing self-care aren’t all or nothing endeavors. So, don’t get hung up on doing them perfectly. Remember progress, not perfection!
“There’s no reason to feel guilty about doing something that’s good for you.”
I want to believe that. I want to think that taking care of myself benefits others, that its strengths relationships. Believing that things run smoother when expectations are clear does make sense. That part I get. But the part about everyone having needs and that taking care of myself is a healthy choice, that’s where it goes sideways.
My mental health is a work in progress.
Getting to where I am in six months has been an amazing journey. The skills I have learned, the tools I now have are helping me create a more balanced life with depression. But the 43+ years I spent avoiding, denying and concealing depression from myself have created patterns and habits I am unlearning.
My struggle with automatic thoughts is one example.
With the tools I have found in SMART Recovery and WRAP, I am better able to challenge these unhelpful thinking styles and the ideas that fill my head. This helps me slow down long enough to ask; is this thought helpful? Am I assuming the worst? How do I know this thought is accurate? Asking these better questions has helped me understand my relationship with depression and helps me see all the subtle ways it has stolen my potential.
But setting boundaries hits at the core of my existence.
I feel guilty when I do that. I feel guilty when I say “NO.” I feel guilty when I set boundaries. And this goes straight back to not valuing myself, not seeing that I have worth all by myself, without titles, just me. This can slip me into “shoulda, woulda, coulda,” and that results in feelings of shame about many of my past actions.
To set better boundaries for myself, to really practice self-care, I need to like myself more.
To be honest, there are times when I do this, but in an instant, I can revert to feelings of guilt about being “pushy” by asking for what I want, or feeling selfish that I must say no. The article wants me to remember “progress, not perfection,” which I get, but do not consistently practice.
Expect to feel uncomfortable in the beginning, but practice, practice, practice.
This is where I am at; I am practicing. But working backward from “tuning into my needs,” I must better understand what they are and learn to articulate them in a clear manner. From there, having respect for myself and my own value, I can set boundaries and be clearer about expectations.
Until then, I am feeling guilty.