I have a confession.
Recently, an event rocked my world and changed my view on who I was and what the future might contain. I was a little over a year into my sobriety and wanted to stay sober.
But I did numb my feelings of anxiety and depression with something else - peanut M&Ms. I did this daily until I started getting migraines. So I gave up the habit - forcing me to give up chocolate altogether (ugh).
My body knew the numbing was bad for me, but it still took severe pain to stop - and nurture myself instead.
What does nurturing look like?
In January, we discussed some nurturing activities in the blog on what to do when initially going through a loss or major change. These tools included healthy habits like adhering to a healthy diet, exercising, committing to a sleep routine, and cultivating supportive relationships. When our bodies, minds, and relationships are healthy, we can handle stress and life’s challenges better.
Nurturing can also be a massage, reading a book, taking a hot bath, or planning a vacation. (Or skipping writing the February newsletter because I had too much on my plate). What would you add to that list?
Most of us know what makes us joyful - we just need to commit the time to do it.
Nurturing ourselves is not selfish but an investment in self-love and self-respect - but many of us struggle (me included) with this because we grew up with shame-based messages around taking care of ourselves.
This makes me think of another way to self-nurture - practicing self-compassion. Self-compassion means treating ourselves with the same kindness, concern, and understanding that we would show to a good friend. It involves acknowledging our suffering, accepting it without judgment, and offering ourselves kindness and care.
Another way to practice self-care is to set boundaries. Boundaries at work and in our personal life. Making sure we allow others the opportunity to fight their own battles. And setting up firm boundaries when others hurt us.
I was always taught to forgive and turn the other cheek. But when I began studying Buddhist philosophy, I learned that forgiving is essential - as is not opening ourselves to additional harm.
Forgiving I was familiar with. It provides a release of the pain caused - and any related energy. It is not an act - but an acceptance. When we genuinely forgive, an issue no longer has power over us.
It also helps when forgiving to remember that those who hurt us are hurting themselves. And if possible - wish them well. We can use the Metta meditation: May they be happy, May they be healthy, May they be safe, May they live a life with ease.
Then? Set a firm boundary they can never cross again.
This reminds me of a quote by Maya Angelou:
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
So if it isn’t already apparent, the second step to bouncing back from difficulty is nurturing ourselves. Once we are committed to healthy nurturing - and have the practices and boundaries to be grounded and safe - we are ready for the next phase of the Bouncing Back Stronger journey. More on that next month.
Hope this is helpful. Please reach out and let me know about your nurturing journey. Or just say hello. I love hearing from you.
Take good, good, good care.