Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How Can I Practice Self Care in My Relationship?

One of the first things we learn in recovery is that we can't control anyone but ourselves. Once we let go of trying to control people, things and outcomes, we have a much better chance at changing the one thing we do have control over... ourselves.

Owning our power, as opposed to giving it to our partner in the form of seeking approval, is one example of self care. We begin to complete our daily activities for our own reasons, to please ourselves, rather than to glean an approving nod or comment from our partner. When we place our partner in the role of judge, we give away our power.

The acronym H.A.L.T.S. is an effective way to remember areas that may provide room for conflict... hungry, angry, lonely, tired, sad or scared. These six key areas may be triggers, leading us to use defense mechanisms to ease our discomfort. Recognizing that we are experiencing one of these feelings may be a boost to self understanding. We can practice self care (eat when hungry, take a time out for anger, call a friend if lonely, nap if tired, figure out why we are sad or scared and allow ourselves to be vulnerable by sharing) before we react to our partner, possibly avoiding negative interactions.

Some things in relationships are unchangeable. Basic personality traits of our partner may be something we must learn to accept, whether we are thrilled by all of them or not. For some, gratefulness is a way out. Gratefulness allow us to be aware of the blessings we already have and helps us to focus our attention in those areas. Once we are truly grateful for the blessings we already have in our lives, we are ripe for receiving more. It may help to keep a gratefulness journal where we write down five things for which we are grateful each day before bed. Over time we see that we have a full and wonderful life. This journal can be a great tool to read when we are feeling upset or out of balance and want to center ourselves.

The habit of keeping score is common in relationships. It can create difficulties for many reasons. When we lose sight of our contribution within the grand scheme of things, when we begin to see ourselves as the victim, we have become out of balance. We begin to focus on taking care of ourselves and practice using our tools in our daily lives, we may begin to give up the practice of keeping score. We realize that we are once again trying to control people, things and outcomes. We practice letting go and allowing outcomes to develop naturally along with gratefulness for all that we have been given in this world.

We are on the road to a wonderfully balanced inter-dependent relationship. The kind that brings much joy to partners. We work toward receiving the many blessings that a fulfilling relationship and life together has to offer!

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