As a person in recovery, I find it very hard to give myself the rest and relaxation I need. What comes naturally for me is overcommitment and overachievement. I too often prioritize productivity over caring for myself responsibly. I know I am not alone in this. Flores writes that addicts “demonstrate an almost complete inability to relax and enjoy themselves” (Flores, 2004). Learning the lifestyle of effective self-care takes continuous effort. For me, it is a journey of constant course correction.
Thankfully, my body tells me when I am maxing out my resources and my capacity for productivity. I have learned to see addictive cravings as signals that something is not right inside of me. When those signals go off, it is time to act. If I do not respond with attention, curiosity, and care, I know I am on the road to relapse.
In her book Running On Empty, Dr Jonice Webb shares that “adults who were emotionally neglected as children often don’t know what their needs are. Their own wants, needs, and feelings are not only irrelevant to the emotionally neglected, they’re invisible.” Since nearly 100% of sexual addicts were emotionally neglected in early life, it makes sense how we learned to neglect ourselves.
Dr Webb recommends finding “healthy self-soothing strategies”that fit each individual’s needs. They could range from going for a walk in the woods, praying or meditating, writing or journaling, exercising, playing with a pet, taking a bath, reading in a hammock, or gardening. The possibilities are endless (for more ideas click here). We can seek and find the non-addictive and non-stressful activities that meet our deepest needs.
We can learn how to love ourselves in many ways, as part of our daily rituals and in times of heightened stress. We can seek the support we need and remind ourselves that today is a great day to begin again. This self-compassionate and self-supportive approach will help us get off of the hamster-wheel of performance and pay attention to the things that are most needed.
May we all learn to tune in to the needs of our body, mind, and soul, investing in the much needed care that will soothe our wounds and wholly rejuvenate us.
I officially give us all permission to rest.
-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C originally published here
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