Tending to Self

I have been asked, "What do you mean when you say that the most important relationship to tend is that with yourself?" Here are some thoughts regarding that quesiton.

The Platinum Rule

I have experienced, in my personal and professional lives, the phenomenon that people treat others somewhat differently--often much better--than they treat themselves. Most people know The Golden Rule: "Do to others what you want them to do to you." I have a variation that I call The Platinum Rule: "Do to yourself what you do to others."

People are often compassionate and supportive of others and they don't give themselves the same compassion and support. Learning self-compassion and self-care are two important parts of tending your relationship with yourself.

Being in Self

Another aspect of tending the relationship you have with yourself encompasses the Jungian idea of being in a complex* and the Internal Family Systems idea of blending with a part. In both cases, you can experience being taken over by a particular issue, state of mind, or state of being. 

Again, it can be impossible to be objective in these situations. There may be a strong identification with the issue, whether that is being mired in a hopeless situation or convinced that a particular trait is true. In this state of mind, accessing a solution or even the hope of a solution can be difficult. 

Being Honest with Yourself

One of the phrases I find myself saying to almost every client is "you can be uncomfortable now on your terms or uncomfortable later on someone else's terms." An important aspect of this is helping clients understand that life can be uncomfortable and that is not always bad. The very degree of discomfort can be information about how important that particular thing is to you.

The way this phrase usually works for individuals is that being open and honest with yourself now can help mitigate the degree of discomfort later. Often, if people are not held accountable by someone or something external, then they can more easily deceive themselves into believing something that may not be true. By being honest with yourself, you may avoid further discomfort in the future.

Here are some examples of how I work with Tending to Self in therapy.

I hope that this helps people better understand what I mean by tending to your relationship with yourself. Please feel free to contact me with questions or to set up an appointment or free 15 minute consultation. 

* A brief definition of a complex is a core pattern of emotions, memories, perceptions, and wishes in the personal unconscious organized around a common theme, such as power, status, entitlement, or disenfranchisement.