10 Dimensions of Identity that Need a Little Love
Kayleigh Woolard, MA LMFT
“Self Care” is all over the place these days. You see people proudly indulging in self-care on social media, gurus and bloggers pushing it, and you even have it on your to-do list for “some evening when everything else is done.” Given my very limited success creating self-care plans with my clients, I think it is safe to say that making self-care a priority is a common struggle. It is hard to know where to start when it comes to taking care of yourself.
Do you take care of your unfolded laundry so that you’ll be less annoyed by it?
Do you go out for a lovely dinner that will also require a plethora of planning on the childcare front?
Do you buy something new that makes you feel special one minute and guilty the next?
Do you put your feet up and binge an entire tv series without talking to your spouse?
Do you watch a bad movie with your spouse just to be together?
The problem that I run into, time and time again, is that I try to treat the complex (and numerous) sides of myself with the same blanket self-care- it just does not work! The part of me that feels like I haven’t used my brain in weeks, does not feel recharged by a pedicure. And the part of me that is lonely, does not want to be locked away by myself even to laugh out loud at my favorite tv show.
The other thing that happens with some brands of self-care is that I push my VERY REAL psychological experiences to the back burner and try to distract myself from feeling depleted. If we aren’t learning how to take care of ourselves in the midst of our daily stressors, we are doomed to repeat our patterns of pain.
We need a new way to see and care for ourselves. What if we got up close and personal with our multiple sides of self and took care to learn and soothe each one? You have, living within your psyche at this very moment, (at least) 10 different sides of yourself. Each one deserves a closer look and some custom-tailored self-care strategies.
- The Intellectual You: this is the part of you that likes information and is responsible for knowing things and formulating thoughts.
- The Physical You: this is the part of you that people see. Your body and its various sensations + your style.
- The Emotional You: the part of you that feels everything from euphoria to depression.
- The Spiritual You: the part of you that asks big questions about right and wrong, the universe, religion, and ponders your place in all of it.
- The Future You: the version of you that doesn’t quite exist yet. This is the possible, hopeful you but can also be the worried and fearful you.
- The Creative You: the part of you that works artistically and thinks outside the box.
- The Fun You: this part of you strives to make memories and enjoy your surroundings.
- The Helper You: the part of you that cares for others and works to contribute to their lives.
- The Social You: the part of you that craves connection and works to relate and interact with others.
- The Anti-Social You: the part of you that prefers to be alone.
Okay now what?
STEP ONE: Identify which side of yourself is exhausted, hurting, or in need.
STEP TWO: Remember the main goal this side of yourself is seeking to accomplish.
STEP THREE: Let this side talk for a minute, and just listen. Really, talk/think about what has been going on as if you were ONLY this one side of yourself.
STEP FOUR: What can you START doing to care for this side of yourself?
STEP FIVE: Write down what works. Every time something works you are learning about yourself. You are getting to know your needs and how to meet them!
Keep in mind, true self-care is not selfish. We often stop providing needed time-outs, support and compassion to ourselves because we do not want to be self-indulgent, but this thinking is misguided. It is necessary for our own mental health, productivity, and relationship satisfaction to be ever-mindful of our own needs- and to meet them when we can! “Take care of yourself” is not just a polite salutation, it is an important reminder that you are always in need of a friend- be your own best friend.
I will end this article with the question I ask at the close of every session: what are you going to do for YOU between now and when we meet again?