8. Identify and Put into Place New Patterns of Self-Care
In this Practice:
- Balance in living and self-care
- What is the basis for self-care?
- Assignment for Practice Eight
You may be tempted to treat this Practice rather casually, maybe even dismiss it. I think it is absolutely essential if you’re serious about recovery.
Think of your life. Where are you out of balance? Where do you see excesses, taking in or spending or giving out more than is healthy? Where do you see deprivations, ignoring what you need? We are holistic creatures. All the patterns of our lives are interrelated.
Our problem may be compulsive sexual behaviors, but our underlying problem is an intimacy disorder. That means we have difficulty having a healthy and genuine relationship with our Creator, with others and with ourselves.
How we see ourselves is reflected in how we take care of ourselves. How we take care of ourselves or how we ignore ourselves shows what we really think of our lives. Our care of ourselves also makes a statement about how we view God and think God views us.
For a lot of people—and I see this among quite a few Christians—talking about self-care seems selfish. After all, isn’t one of the teachings of spirituality to deny ourselves? Yes, but what does that mean? I think it means to not let our self-centered, childish ego rule our lives.
Remember it is Christ who bids us who feel burdened to come to him and he promises, “I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Recovery is not a life of stern deprivation, of impossible standards and self-punishment.
Rather, healthy, integrated recovery (and spirituality) is a life of balance and love and light. One of your primary jobs is taking care of you. And boundaries are absolutely essential.
If you are a truly spiritual person, one who believes in God as our Creator and Sustainer, then your life is a gift and your job is appropriately managing that gift.
I think of it this way. My life is not ultimately about me. On the one hand, my life is really about the One who created it and redeems it and sustains it. One the other hand—and this is a really important part of recovery practice—my life is also about loving and serving others. I think this is true for you, too.
Our problem is counter-intuitive. When we’re living in our addiction, we’re living as a selfish people. The Big Book says that selfishness and self-centeredness are the root of our troubles. “We [addicts] are undisciplined people. So we allow God to discipline us.”
Self-care, however, is not selfishness. Rather, self-care is the antidote for selfishness. You take care of you because you are loved by Another and you want to live a life that is fully responsive to that Love by living a life of health and love and service.
Assignment for Engaging the Eighth Practice—Patterns of Self-Care
1. Read pp 150-155 in Ashamed No More, the three sections on shame, serenity and life in the Spirit
2. Read pp 156-164 in Ashamed No More, the two sections on mindfulness
3. Read pp 164-172 in Ashamed No More, the three sections on relationships, helping others and handling hardships
4. Identify what positive steps you can engage to take better care of yourself in each of these five areas:
- Healthy friendship
5. Now develop a plan of monthly and weekly to-do steps for each of the five areas.
6. Tell someone else (your sponsor, a group member, therapist or friend) what your plan is. And tell them when you’ll take responsibility to report back to them on how you’re doing.
7. Here is a prayer I recommend you pray daily:
Lord, you have created us in your image. You tell us we are fearfully and wonderfully made. You also tell us we are managers or stewards of what you have given us. So please help me to see my life as a gift from You. Help me to take care of my life as my gift to You. Amen.
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