In my practice as mental health practitioner, I noticed that most of my clients lack awareness and significance of self-care. I often ask them this question – if you have only one car, how long will you be able to use it without paying any attention to its maintenance or oil change or by keep ignoring any weird signs, sounds etc.….We all know the reply here.
Then why are we so hard on ourselves, so ignorant or “selectively ignorant” to pay any attention to our needs (physical, emotional, sexual and intellectual). We are so much untruthful especially to our emotional needs. We do not go to see psychologist/counsellor until our symptoms get worsened and declared as some mental disorder by the psychiatrist/physician. We keep avoiding issues. We keep dragging and living life in same manner no matter how we feel about ourselves. Why?
Well, there could be various reasons behind lack of self-care regime which differs with every individual. Some of these could be:
- That’s how I was raised;
- That’s what I believe about myself that I am strong enough; I have been through many things before;
- That’s my personality (putting others first. Others need it more than me);
- Negative self-perceptions such as I am not worthy enough OR it’s selfish to pay too much attention on myself OR I don’t need it, I will be fine etc.
- I don’t have time, I don’t care. What difference it makes.
All of above mentioned causes which decline self-care are there, less or more, in each one of us but there is one more hidden factor which is also closely related to lack of self-compassion and low self-esteem. This factor is “our inner critic”. This inner critic is nothing but our own “self”. It is the statements of this inner critic who discourage us from doing anything for ourselves until we break down. Many of us might have heard this inner critic, especially before doing anything new in our life, such as – You are fat or _ _ _, nothing is gonna work for you. Everyone hates you anyways, what’s the point of doing it. You tried it many times and failed every time, why are you doing it again. You are born like this, nothing could change it etc. etc.
Interestingly, if you think deeper, all of these statements are not originally created by you. They were created by others at some point of your life; may be your mom or dad or sibling or friend or partner. Then how come it becomes your statement, which is coming from your head now? Because you believed in them, you believed in those people, you believed in their judgements-more than yourself. It occurred due to low self-confidence or may be you were too young to argue or challenge their statements. It further lowered your self-confidence and efforts of self-care. Slowly these statements resided inside you as a belief and created that inner critic who keep destroying your self-confidence, self-image and self-esteem. This inner critic keep prohibiting you from doing anything for yourself?
Then how to get rid of that inner critic or lifelong negative beliefs about self? How to learn self-care and develop self-compassion? How to build self-confidence and self-esteem?
Well, it’s not as hard as it sounds. There are many therapeutic interventions which can help you challenge your deep negative beliefs and start loving yourself, indulge you in self-care and make that inner critic your best friend.
To develop these skills and/or read more over this topic, please read this book:
The Self-Esteem Companion
By Matthew Mckay, Patrick Fanning, Carole Honeychurch and Catharine Sutker
– Rhea Jacobs
MA Counselling Psychology, Registered Clinical Counsellor