Taking care of myself was not a concept I had ever heard of, let alone practiced when I entered adulthood. In fact, I am still learning how to do it.
I think that our parents and teachers believed that the way to bring children up in the right way and teach them what they needed to know, was to constantly point out what we were doing wrong. Some of us, like me, had our spirits pretty bruised by all the negative input. The result was that I came to believe that I was a very defective person, unworthy, and basically deserved every bad thing that could happen to me.
That way of thinking led me to never really thinking about what I needed to do to take care of myself. I was halfway through adulthood before I even came across the idea of self-care.
With the help of a recovery program, some really good therapy, and lots of reading on the subject, I've arrived at a point where I take the idea very seriously. When I fall back, I usually get bruised, so I work at taking care of myself every day.
As I visit with others who are using me as a sponsor in their recovery programs, I've noticed that we all have something in common when we haven't learned how to take care of ourselves - big fat ugly resentments against other people - sometimes very old ones that we've been carrying around for years. We have chronic anger. We're very judgmental of other people (a great way of distracting ourselves from the judgments we have about ourselves). We complain a lot about everything. None of this makes for anything like a great life!
Learning how to take care of myself (and I'm still learning), has taken years and years. I'm hardly ever angry or upset about anything anymore. That is NOT because I've found a way to make everything go my way, but because I've practiced acceptance of life on life's terms and because I do my best to carry out my responsibilities to myself instead of expecting other people/the world to do it for me.
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