The importance of self-care in relationships

 

I have spoken to many people on the topic of self-care, particularly self-care in relation to those they are in relationship to. What I have noticed is that many feel bringing a focus to self, as in self-care, is largely a selfish thing to do. From my personal experience, I found that self-care is vital to the health and well-being of our relationships.

When we self-care, we listen to and become more fine-tuned to what our bodies truly need. We become aware of many things, like the fact that sugar or caffeine causes our nervous system to elevate leaving us feeling racy, or that heavy foods and over eating can have a dulling effect. We get to feel that eating more lightly, that is, fresh foods that truly support our body, leaves us feeling energised and vital. And this is really just the tip of the iceberg…

Love in the kitchen

Self-care is an ever evolving practice that can become infinitely more refined in its detail, for example, noticing how, if items in a room are rearranged or placed in even a slightly different way the whole area feels clearer. Or that how we move and hold our body in a particular way we feel more expansive and light.

By understanding self-care as described above we can begin to see there is a direct correlation with how we are with ourselves and how we are with others. By deeply caring for ourselves this love and care will naturally extend to those around us, in fact it has the potential to transform our relationships.

When you enter the home of someone who has a deep love and respect for themselves you can feel you are being held in that same love as you walk into that space, it is palpable. The love that this person lives is not just for themselves, it is for everyone. The flip side of being around someone living in this way is that it can highlight the ways we are living that do not belong to love. In the short term this can be uncomfortable, but if you so choose, this reflection of love will lift you up and inspire you to do the same.

When we live this way we can share a relationship with another that is healing, offering them the choice to live more of who they truly are.  

Kate Chorley is a psychotherapist & couples therapist practicing in the Parramatta & Blacktown areas of Western Sydney. She supports her clients in raising their self-awareness to lead more productive and fulfilling lives. Contact here or phone 0402 134 097 to make an appointment. 

Self-Love is just a stepping stone

 

Self-love is a term that has been bandied around for some time now. We are told we should love ourselves, in fact we know we should love ourselves. But it seems hard to understand, many ask, ‘how is it done?’, as if it is something we need to learn to ‘do’. It seems the world has forgotten the meaning of what love truly is.

We have forgotten because over time the magic word ‘Love’ has been barbarised to the hilt. We have chosen to believe that love is something that comes to us or something we give, is only for the lucky few, and that love can be lost. None of this is true. Love is who we truly are, it is our essence, the core of our beingness.

In understanding this, how does loving oneself apply to relationships? Why does it matter? There doesn’t seem to be much purpose around why it’s so important, yet it is, actually it’s vital, otherwise what are we bringing to our relationships?

To really appreciate the importance of self-love we need to understand it’s purpose – the Why

Self-Love Relationships

When we love ourselves, it is simply about deeply understanding where we are at in our development and what needs to be healed, which by the way, is not who we truly are anyway. Let me explain. When we are emotional – hurt, angry, disappointed or frustrated for example, we are reacting to life or an experience that has hurt us. By not addressing that hurt and holding on to it, it sets up patterns of behaviour and responses to life that come from that place. Situations and people trigger those unhealed hurts and we react. But the hurt we carry is not part of who we are, it is not supposed to be there.

As the years roll by and we continue to carry that hurt it becomes deeply ingrained and we start to identify with it as part of us. We believe we are damaged, scarred, broken. We lose touch with our true selves. We hate feeling like this, and as a result start to loath who we believe ourselves to be, leading to self-worth issues. 

To self-love is to hold yourself in absolute honour and respect no matter where you are at, knowing that at the core of your being you are divine. And this very fact is what trips us up, as we have forgotten this truth. As we all innately know, everyone on this earth is equal, we all have the same origins. This is a basic fact. But many of us are lost, some very lost. But this never takes away from the divinity that lays within each and every one of us equally. 

Self-Love is key to all healthy relationships

Treat yourself gently and with great tenderness, you are precious and have been hurt. Seek to heal your hurts and understand yourself, not beat yourself up or abuse yourself. Only then can you start to live the love that you naturally are, even if you have areas to work on, which all of us do anyway. When you live in a loving way with yourself it is simply a stepping stone, as you can then begin to Be Love with others and bring the magic of true love to all of your relationships. Ultimately, when we allow ourselves to Be Love we realise there is no ‘self’ in love after all. 

 

 

Depression – Finding your way back to you

 

Depression can creep up on you. It can begin with feeling a little flat, that life seems to have become boring and meaningless. This can then be followed by feeling a real lack of purpose, like ‘what’s the point’. Everything can become a drag, each day can feel like groundhog day; an empty repetition of the day before. You may try doing a few things to help you feel better but you find you just have no motivation to make any real changes. Your relationships begin to suffer as you just don’t feel good about yourself anymore, your self-confidence and your spark have disappeared. 

Does this sound like you?

If so, there are several things you can do 

1. Honest self-reflection – It is important to take time to do some honest self-reflection. Many times you can become depressed as you have been hurt by life because it did not turn out how you expected it to or wanted it to be, or that you have been hurt by someone or a situation. In response to this disappointment or hurt we withdraw in an attempt to protect ourselves from getting hurt again. This never works, in fact it causes further distress. When you contract away from life and not live as your full self you create a space within that feels like emptiness. You are also likely to live very much in your head in an attempt to escape the hurt you carry in your body. This creates a disconnection from the deep, wise and truly intelligent part of yourself, which is actually the most painful part of depression. 

2. Nominate the cause – When you get honest with yourself you are then in a position to nominate the reason you have chosen to withdraw from life and shut down. By nominating the cause this initiates a process of true healing.

3. Seek out true support – When you are ready to deal with the underlying issues it is important to connect with the people that you feel will truly assist you in your self-reflection and nomination and ultimately your own self-healing. This can be a trusted friend, relative or a therapist. It is also a good idea to see your doctor as medication is an applicable support in some cases. 

4. Commit to life – Committing to life, is bringing your all to everything you do, from the most mundane tasks to the things you love. It is about taking responsibility to do those things that you know will support you. It is about knowing how to ‘fill your own cup’. In that way you will begin to experience the joy you have been missing. Instead of withdrawing and shutting down you are now open and ready for what is coming towards you in life. 

5. Reframe your view on life – The way you see life has a huge impact on the way you feel. The fact is we are all students of life, and never arrive at a point of completion. Life is a constant unfolding, offering us situations that will ultimately help us grow, evolve and become more solid in who we are. Sometimes these ‘lessons’ can be difficult, but if you embrace life and what it is offering you, you can begin to move from being a victim of life to one of empowerment and joy. 

For further information there is a great, short video on depression at UniMed Living 

Kate Chorley is a psychotherapist & couples therapist practicing in the Parramatta & Blacktown areas of Western Sydney. She supports her clients in raising their self-awareness to lead more productive and fulfilling lives. Contact here or phone 0402134097 to make an appointment. 

How our past hurts impact our relationships

 

As we move through life, people, situations or events that we experience can leave us feeling hurt and traumatised. This unfortunately is a normal part of life as we know life to be today. Getting hurt is not an issue per say if we are able to deal with it, let go and move on, but this is not the norm, with many of us harbouring hurts and resentments for decades. This then taints our view of the world and damages our trust in others and in life. When we are unable to resolve our hurt, we bury it deep in our body and carry it with us everywhere we go. This in turn affects all aspects of our lives. We may think we have moved on, and that the past is behind us, but everything we have ever experienced, positive or negative, stays with us, and makes up how we relate to others and how we see life. 

We then take what we carry into our relationships and this is where the trouble starts. When we have unhealed hurts with us things that people say, or certain situations will trigger us, they will touch on the unhealed part of us, most commonly causing us to react in a negative way. We may see the situation like: ‘you are making me feel like this’, or ‘you are doing this to me’. This leaves us feeling like a victim, creating more hurt. A vicious cycle is then created.

How to break the cycle 

But we can rise above this by looking at ourselves and life a little differently. When we are triggered to react it is an opportunity to reflect on why we may be feeling this way, this requires a lot of honesty to get to the truth. Once we feel the truth we are then in position to begin the process of letting go of old baggage once and for all.

For example, if you felt your mother never showed you love that doesn’t mean a woman will never love you, but this is the message our unconscious mind holds onto, projecting that belief onto every woman you meet. If that woman behaves in a way that is even slightly similar to how your mother was with you, you become triggered and this will then confirm your belief that no woman will ever love you. But by looking deeper and getting more honest with yourself you can feel the old hurt that you carry from your past, the hurt of the inner child part of yourself, and that your reaction was really about the unhealed hurt you were holding onto about your mother not the woman in front of you. Simply by nominating the truth you initiate the process of letting go of the old belief and making way for the real you to shine through.

Just because you had traumatic experiences in your past doesn’t necessarily mean you are doomed, you have the power to heal and rise above your past through honesty and love. 

For further reading on the subject, pop over to Unimed Living where you can read How letting go of the past is true medicine 

Kate Chorley is a psychotherapist & couples therapist practicing in the Parramatta & Blacktown areas of Western Sydney. She supports her clients in raising their self-awareness to lead more productive and fulfilling lives. Contact here or phone 0402134097 to make an appointment. 

 

 

Living with a depressed partner

 

Living with a partner that is suffering depression can be a hugely challenging experience that can leave you feeling lost and hopeless. It can feel as though the way they feel is your fault, that if only you could work out exactly what they needed you to do, you would do it so they would feel better. But the reality is, it seems nothing will improve their mood for long. Your partner may have periods of feeling ‘up’ which provides some hope that things may change. Only to find them plummet back down into that dark place. You may be constantly vigilant, making sure they are taking their medication or asking how they are feeling. Yet it may feel like nothing works.

 

So what is the best way to handle this? 

1. Learn to detach  – I know this may seem cold but the fact is, the way they feel is not your responsibility. Their happiness is not your responsibility either. I understand that all you may want to do is help but the truth is they must help themselves. It is up to them to reach out for support when they need it. Then the support will be there. If they are willing to take constructive steps to help themselves you can support them in this but you cannot do it for them. This is where many people slip up. By trying to ‘save’ them this can leave you feeling guilty or with a sense of hopelessness around what to do. 

2. Listen to them – This may sound simple but it is important to really listen to what they are asking for. They may be needing space, or time out, but when you have an agenda of what you think is best for them you don’t really hear them. Honour what they are asking for. 

3. Get Support – When you are in a close relationship it is difficult because you will not be getting your needs met, as your partner will not be in a position to offer you the love and attention you deserve. This is because they are in a state of disconnection and withdrawal which makes it very difficult for them to express their love. It can be very distressing to be around this energy. This means it is vital to get the support you need through other means for a time; via trusted friends, and relatives or finding a great therapist to support you in working through your feelings and giving you strategies work on. 

4. Take threats of suicide seriously – It is vital that every threat of suicide is taken seriously. Ring the mental health line or call an ambulance. I understand that if your partner threatens often this can feel like they may just be seeking attention, but the reality is they actually do need attention. Facts are, most people don’t want to kill themselves but don’t know what to do or what help they actually need or where to go to get it. Mental health services in your area such as Lifeline in Australia can provide an array of facilities that can provide support. 

 

 

 

Divorce Hell – Could there be another way?

 

Divorce is a common occurrence in society today. If our marriage doesn’t work out we have a choice, we can make a decision to break the contract we made with our husband or wife and go on our merry way. Unfortunately it is usually not as simple as that. When the relationship breaks down or has been in turmoil for many years, both partners may be harbouring hurts and resentments that run deep. There could be children and pets involved, and property and assets to divide. For many this process can be a nightmarish tug of war that can cost tens, and sometimes up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in solicitors fees as we struggle to obtain what we feel is rightfully ours. The extreme stress this places on each party and the children can be huge. But could there be another way?

It may seem crazy that once upon a time you loved and cared for each other, exchanged vows of a promise to be there for one another through thick and thin, to then end up at war like worst enemies! But could divorce be an aspect of a relationship that is simply changing for the greater good? Divorce doesn’t need to be more rounds of creating deeper wounds, divorce can be what you want or need it to be for everyone to feel loved and supported. I know this idea may seem utopian or unattainable but it is possible. But how?

1. Heal your hurts together – This is a vital aspect of going through this transition in your relationship. When things are not working or there appears to be a calamity before you, there is always something to learn, it presents an opportunity for personal evolution and growth. There is gold to be discovered that can leave you feeling more whole and empowered if you are prepared to get honest and real about what is not ok, it is about being humble instead of self- righteous. You need to identify and break unhelpful patterns that you may be stuck in. I understand that if your partner has cheated on you or has been abusive in any way it can be hugely distressing but it is important to look at your patterns of behaviour or how your actions have let that behaviour happen or continue. There presents a huge opportunity for you to heal and not unconsciously take these harmful patterns into your next relationship. It is important to make peace with ourselves and each other by owning our part in the situation.

2. Let go of ideals – There are so many ideals and beliefs imposed on us by society about what marriage is and how it is supposed to be, we then enter into a relationship with a picture of what we think our marriage is. This limits us and holds up captive to an ideal which is unattainable, but the truth is our relationship can be more than we ever imagined if we are able to let go of the picture. Every relationship, no matter how fleeting, offers us evolution, an opportunity to grow. Sometimes relationships run their course and need to change form for each partner to remain true to themselves. This may mean divorce, but again divorce doesn’t need to be what we are told it is; a failure, a disaster, a tragedy. Leaving a marriage is part of a cycle, like the seasons, where we are always being offered another opportunity just as winter turns to spring, if we are open to what the universe is offering each of us all the time.

3. Practice Appreciation –  As I mentioned earlier there is always a gift in every seeming calamity. Endevour to be aware of what that particular relationship was offering you. What was it showing you about yourself? This can be difficult to accept at times but the discomfort is worth the rewards of growing as a person and learning more about our patterns of behaviour that are holding us back from who we truly are. Take time to appreciate what your relationship has offered you, your new found awareness, your ability to heal.

4. Be Love – I know this may sound weird but the truth is when we live the above points mentioned then this will feel like a natural thing to do. When you remain respectful and decent towards our ex-partner you feel good about yourself. This may mean having no interaction what so ever with that person again, but being able to move on without harbouring resentment and bitterness towards them is liberating. We are then able to heal and rise above our past and truly let go of what is not working, remaining open and trusting of others and ourselves. Love does not hurt us but ideals, beliefs and harmful patterns of behaviour do. In this way we also role model a true way of being to our children from which they can learn and be able to come through the situation relatively unscathed.