In Part One, you learned about breaking out of the failure cycle and moving into a positive cycle of valuing yourself and your skills. Nurturing yourself means developing attitudes and adopting acts that help you grow and flourish as a self-valuing individual.
Six key ways in which you can nurture yourself are summarized in the word ‘CARESS’.
This CARESS scheme of nurturing yourself is about observing the following words and what they mean in your life:
You can incorporate the CARESS elements into your life to enrich your sense of self in the world and to be content with who you are.
Here is how you can work with CARESS:
We’ve all been hurt by some action or someone in our lives. When we hurt, it’s good when someone reaches out to us in a caring way. It may not make the problem go away but it might lift our mood and the problem may seem less burdensome. We might even have felt less frozen about our attempts to deal with our problems and feel more able to deal with them. With this warmth of compassion we feel better about ourselves.
When we can get this warming compassion from another person we feel fortunate and perhaps learn to reach out in a similar way to others who feel troubled. But sometimes, we might feel we can’t share our problems freely or we feel shy about our dependence on others for compassion.
Learning how to become compassionate with yourself is empowering in itself. Showing yourself compassion is even better. Give yourself the compassion you need. Develop some self-talk about being caring and loving towards yourself and be ready to cheer yourself up and offer yourself encouragement to forge ahead.
Becoming compassionate towards and understanding of yourself requires some practice. Try it on a daily basis and have it in your repertoire when times get tough and your self-worth needs topping up.
Acceptance and compassion are fellow travellers. When we feel compassion towards ourselves we find we can accept ourselves. This means accepting ourselves as the imperfect human beings we are – along with everyone else. Instead of responding to setbacks with anger and disappointment, accept that they occur and find what you can learn from the experience. Don’t berate yourself, it’s more powerful for you to be kind with yourself and accept that things aren’t perfect, but you are determined to be more confident and successful next time. You’ve learned from this experience and accepting that it happened and that you can move on and be positive about the future is important.
We all know how important respect is. Do you ever feel undervalued? Taken for granted? Do you want to be esteemed, appreciated and valued?
Develop the habit of respecting yourself on the inside and gaining respect on the outside from others by asserting yourself appropriately when needed. Don’t underrate your own abilities and knowledge. If you can help, do so and when you get a compliment then accept it graciously. Building respect from the inside out and from the outside in go hand-in-hand.
If you can’t respect yourself, it will be difficult for other people to give you the respect you deserve. We all know how good it feels when someone appreciates something about us. That good feeling radiates through our bodies and reinforces your good sense of self.
You ae worthy of your own respect and the respect of others.
It’s a truism that we all need encouragement. Encouragement nurtures us and is growth-promoting. Being encouraged to be ourselves and full human beings in every endeavour we undertake is a vital ingredient in valuing ourselves.
Invite encouragement by being enthusiastic about what you do and by offering encouragement to others. If we’d like to be encouraged, then it’s important to be generous in our encouragement of the efforts of those around us, whether they be family, friends, peers or co-workers.
Being mindful of the fact that encouragement of ourselves and others means making the effort and being persistent is helpful. Encouragement is something that we should commit ourselves to doing on a long-term basis. It’s not good enough to offer – or receive – encouragement just once. Encourage yourself when you’ve felt vulnerable about doing something but went ahead and did it anyway. Encourage your bravery to do it again. Encouragement is an ongoing activity – take credit when you offer sustained encouragement to others. Be grateful when you receive ongoing encouragement that sustains your efforts and empowers you.
Support, like encouragement, is needed on an ongoing basis. One-off support that helps you on one occasion is unlikely to leave you feeling good about yourself for long. It might help lift your mood, allow you the courage to do something, but ultimately, it needs to be topped up to be helpful in the long-term.
We all have someone – or some people – in our lives who can offer us support of the nurturing and loving kind. Many of us have had days when we’ve just wanted to stay in bed and hide from the world. But we learn that ultimately, magical thinking that allows us to believe that somehow everything will improve, is not real or true.
Learn to support yourself by telling yourself that that no matter how bad things get, you will be in your own corner and you’ll go on. Supporting your own efforts is a powerful strategy. Equally important and powerful is your ability to get the support you need from significant persons in your life.
Isn’t it wonderful to gently stroke a cat and have their response? Recall a time when someone gently massaged your face, neck, shoulders or back and that wonderful sensation of fingers on your skin. Maybe you can remember as a child being held in your father’s arms or rocked by your mother and that warm feeling that overcame you. Perhaps you can think of a time when you felt warm and sensuous when your lover smiled at you and reached out to you.
Reflect on all these experiences of being stroked in real and figurative ways and warm yourself in the feelings that these sensations evoke. You deserve to feel good about yourself and having other people give you that validation is empowering.
You also deserve to stroke yourself when you need a little nurturing. Whenever you feel you need comforting do something to give yourself a positive stroke. Why not feel the comforting embrace of a hot bath or some warmth in a cup of hot chocolate by the fire? If you’re feeling tired and stressed, it makes sense to stroke yourself with positive experiences – or kind words. Comfort yourself with warm words of hope, words of support and encouragement – and above all, words of support and acceptance.
Learn to CARESS yourself whenever you feel the need to do so – it is nurturing and uplifting and once you know what to do, it is a sure-fire way of making yourself feel much, much better.
To read more about strategies to increase your self-esteem, see Because You’re Really Worth It