When you don't take care of yourself, what's missing?

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A common problem that comes up in psychotherapy is that clients are not taking care of themselves.  This may be in a variety of physical ways – not eating well, not being hydrated, not getting enough sleep, not exercising, not taking time out; as well as in psychological ways – beating themselves up with their internal voice, acting as if they do not deserve good things, and taking responsibility for horrible things that others do to them.  The list can be both endless and subtle.

So, what’s missing?  It’s often the case that there is one or more type of loving energy that the client is not in touch with.  It may be that they are not able to feel nurturing towards themselves, that a sense of caring, tenderness, compassion and kindness is somehow disconnected from them, or is turned out to others but not back inside.  Without this nurturing, the archetypal energy of the mother, we do not treat ourselves well, and we may implicitly give others permission to be unkind also.

It also may be that the loving energy of self-protection is missing, that energy of strength, courage, steadfastness, determination, that willingness to stand and fight one’s own corner.  Without this kind of energy, archetypally the warrior, it is easy for our sense of self and our boundaries to be over-run and for us to allow others to take advantage of us.

Tuning in to these loving energies is important, we all have them within us to some degree, but it may be that there are parts of us that are just split off or isolated and do not get the benefit.  A useful way of assisting yourself with this is to spend some time reflecting on who, or what, represents these two energies for you.  Who in your life has been nurturing?  Who from public life, which historical figure, or movie character, or animal brings this protective quality to your mind?  Having a number of figures in mind for these energies can be very useful.  You can bring them to mind when you need them, asking yourself what they might say, or do, in the situation, and seeing what that feels like when you try it on.

We are each both energy and matter.  For support in exploring and expanding these energies more deeply within yourself, you may want to work with a therapist trained in Attachment-Focused EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).  This therapy works with the mind-body system to repair and build your ability to relate to yourself and to others. If you would like to be more compassionate with yourself, both in a nurturing and protective way, then get in touch.

Go to the profile of Fe Robinson, Psychotherapist

Fe Robinson, Psychotherapist

I am here to help you thrive, whatever life brings. I offer Psychotherapy, EMDR therapy and Couples Counselling to clients based in Durham. I am UKCP Accredited, BACP Registered, and an EMDR Europe Practitioner, and offer Clinical Supervision to counsellors and psychotherapists locally. I have worked in private practice, the NHS, and in charitable organisations, with a wide range of clients and conditions.

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