What’s urban – I think it’s a state of mind or a manner of thinking. It might describe where you come from but it is in no way a bad thing. Why therapy? It’s a dirty word to a lot of people. With a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, I believe it’s anything that can help you solve a problem, gain perspective or elevate your thinking. If you’re curious, check back often, you might find the answers to some of the questions you have yet to ask. Welcome.
Question: For the first time in my adult life I am not in a relationship and I don’t feel comfortable doing things alone. I usually focus on my relationship, or supporting my partner’s goals. How can I begin to create a new life with me as a focus?
Answer: Subtly women, particular mothers, become conditioned to taking care of others. It’s instinctual. But when the time comes for you to focus on you, it can feel like a task or it falls to the bottom of a never-ending to-do list. In the beginning it might be easier to say it than to do it but the more you do, the more familiar and less foreign it feels.
To start, I suggest a few things:
Use your supportive tendencies to support yourself. It’s not negotiable to skip a doctor’s appointment, veterinary appointment, doing the taxes or getting an oil change. You have to take that same approach with yourself. Schedule time for something that is nurturing to you and stick to it. It could be time at the spa, reading at a bookstore, having coffee or a cocktail, buying a luxury item you’ve been saving for or even window shopping. Be diligent but don’t overthink it. The more you think about it, the more opportunities you have to talk yourself out of it.
Start each day with two affirmations, one starting with “I want…” and “I need…” and think about these statements throughout the day. It can be as simple as “I want a latte and a muffin for breakfast” or as forward-thinking as “I would like to make a career change in the next year”. The end of the sentence doesn’t matter, getting into the practice of saying it is what will help you to shift your focus back to yourself.
Make a “me” list. Make a list of things YOU want to do – places YOU want to visit, restaurants YOU want to go to, movies YOU want to see, books YOU want to read. The next time you find yourself looking for something to do, refer to this list, choose an item and do it – by yourself. Be wary of thoughts that begin with “I’d like to…” – it will lead you into a pattern of thinking that it’s not a reality or that it’s dependent on something or someone else.
“Say no to drugs”. Not literal drugs but patterns of behaviors or thinking that aren’t self-fulfilling. Train yourself to avoid the addictive pattern of showing up more for others than you do for yourself. Addicts in recovery have to take every step imaginable to avoid and abstain from coming into contact with their triggering substance.
Failure to avoid them would most definitely mean a relapse, and probably another trip to rehab or an inpatient luxury addiction treatment center if they can afford it.
It’s a dramatic example but the principle is still the same. It’s okay to be supportive of your children, friends or a partner if you’re in a relationship but you have to abstain from focusing almost solely on their wants or needs.
Never hesitate to reach out to friends and family and let them take the lead. They are experts at appreciating and loving the best parts of you.
Also Check Out:
“On The Beat” With Ms. Boogie (column 25)
Eyes On The Throne – Thoughts on Jay & Kanye show
Single Mothers, Phenomenal Women – Single Mother’s Give Advice
Fairy Tale is Over – The Death of Happily Ever After