Casey is tired of coming home to her apartment every day. She feels like her home drains her energy more than her job does. Not because it’s not a nice place, and not because of anyone else who lives there. Actually, she lives alone. It’s just that Casey’s apartment is a disorganized mess. Every Friday, she vows that she’ll do a thorough organizing and cleaning job before Monday comes. But every weekend, she finds something more interesting to do with her time.
Silas knows that he needs to cut down on his drinking. He’s been getting to work later and later on Mondays because he’s a bit hungover from the weekend. This doesn’t get him into trouble with his supervisor, but Silas can see the trend happening and gradually increasing throughout the year.
Beth and James are a busy couple with two young sons. They both work hard to take care of the boys and make a living. Generally, life is pretty good. Except that each secretly feels that the marriage is bland and unrewarding. “Something’s not right,” Beth thinks to herself. “I’m bored,” James thinks to himself. Both know they should say something to the other, but neither wants to take the risk of making matters worse. And neither wants to hurt the other.
We almost all neglect ourselves in one way or another, at one time or another. One could argue that the damage we do by neglecting ourselves is far more substantial than whatever neglect we experience from others.
Read through the common areas of self-neglect below, and see if any ring true in your life.
Common Examples of Self-Neglect
- Not pursuing an activity that you know you would enjoy
- Settling for a job that’s under-challenging or isn’t stimulating
- Unhealthy eating
- Not getting enough sleep or rest
- Not developing a talent that you know you have
- Engaging excessively in an activity that harms your body and detracts from your emotional health, like pot-smoking or using other drugs (For example, Silas’s drinking)
- Generally over-focusing on other people’s needs while leaving your own unmet
- Not exercising enough
- Not speaking up for your opinions
- Over-scheduling yourself so that you don’t have enough free time
- Settling for too little joy or fun in your life
- Neglecting to address sources of unhappiness (Examples Casey, Beth and James)
- Spending too little time, effort or money on your appearance, a potential source of self-esteem
- Depriving yourself of the freedom and pleasure brought by spending time in nature
Have you been neglecting yourself in these, or other ways? If so, rest assured that you are in good company, along with much of the human race.
Take a moment and try to imagine treating a child the way you are treating yourself/your body right now. Would you deprive a child of joy? Vegetables and fruits? Fun? Nice clothing? An opinion? Fresh air and exercise? Then why do you treat yourself or your body this way?
Now, at the very start of 2016, is a great time to stop the neglect and start giving yourself the time, attention, and effort that you need and deserve.
Five Steps to Cure Your Self-Neglect in 2016
- Identify the area or areas in which your self-neglect has arises.
- Write each one down. Seeing it in writing will make it more vivid and real and will also serve as a record to consult throughout the year.
- Choose one item (working on one at a time will optimize your success) from your list, and promise yourself to improve on it in 2016.
- Focus on that goal. Pay attention to when you fail to do what’s best for you or your body.
- Track your success on paper or using your smartphone. You can find specially designed Change Sheets for many of the areas listed above free on EmotionalNeglect.com. Click on “Download the Change Sheets” and use them throughout 2016 to target your chosen area(s) of self-neglect.
Imagine that Casey, Silas, Beth and James followed the five steps above. Imagine that Casey cleans her apartment, and sets up a system to keep it clean. Imagine that her home becomes the place of comfort and solace that it should be.
The deep roots of self-neglect often spring from a lack of self-worth. Somewhere, somehow, maybe you don’t feel you are worth the effort of self-care.
Just as Silas could take charge of his own life, Beth and James could face their troubles and make their marriage warm and fulfilling again. And you can take charge of your own self-neglect with enough motivation, dedication, and perseverance throughout 2016.
You are worth it.
To learn how Childhood Emotional Neglect sets you up for self-neglect in adulthood, see EmotionalNeglect.com or the book, Running on Empty.