Stop Depriving Yourself! Five Self Care Steps to Create The Quality of Life You Yearn For
This is the name of the book written by Elizabeth Wedington and Anne Stirling Hastings available in November 2018. If you would like notification of publication enter your email and we will be delighted to let you know!
You grew up deprived.
This crazy culture makes sure that no one gets off free of deprivation. It also sets us up for abuse and neglect, which are forms of deprivation.
Did you say no? Not you? Your parents were there for you?
Every one of us was deprived of having all of our infant needs met. And were all harmed by parents’ inability to perceive and provide what we needed in childhood. I’m talking about all parents who themselves were harmed by just living in this culture. All of us have had our needs and values distorted. Not one of has been an excellent parent. Not one of us had excellent parenting.
Here are some of the cultural causes of not getting what is needed. Our culture encourages competition. Self esteem is based on success – first with grades, then education and income. This brings self hate to those who fail. We learn to accept many kinds of lying. Ten percent of those around us are alcoholics. Even greater numbers are addicted to work, sex, smoking, and especially food. Even if you are not addicted, you have had to learn how to interact with those who are.
Better parents live in this morass of ill health at home, at work, and in community. This limits even their ability to understand, and then carry out, what their children need.
I’m naming these distortions right off so you can see that I’m not blaming you. And to let you know that even if your parents tried their best, you were still deprived.
When we are deprived, we grow up depriving ourselves.
Parents who neglect create far more deprivation. Parents who abuse communicate that their off springs lack worth, have little value. The resulting deprivation of having needs well met lasts into adult life.
Let me say it again. When our needs were not met in childhood, we grow up carrying on the deprivation of ourselves.
How Do You Deprive Yourself?
Deprivation becomes so integrated into our identity that it can be difficult to see. Instead we experience the resulting anxiety or depression. Or we will drink too much or use other ways to sidestep the way we feel toward ourselves.
Looking at how you don’t meet your authentic human needs will show you how you deprive yourself. Any addiction is depriving you of real connection with yourself and others. The lying that comes along with it prevents intimacy, and you are deprived of that human need. Avoiding attaching will too.
More subtle deprivations are having a limit on the amount of pleasure you are allowed in a day or week or lifetime. Another common deprivation is seen in the form of gossip or joining others to criticize with no focus on change.
Here are some examples:
A girl was not wanted, her mother wishing she was dead. She grew up depriving herself of boundaries and asking for what she needed.
A teen regularly had her possessions pulled out of closets and drawers and told to organize them after she had gone out with friends. She deprives herself of an ease with possessions, having to have everything super orderly.
A boy who became a peacemaker when his parents fought became a man who focuses on keeping the peace at home and work, depriving himself of meeting his authentic needs and emotions.
A boy with alcoholic parents began drinking at age 11, and became an alcoholic. He deprived himself of learning how to feel comfortable in life without having to add a substance to feel better.
The enormously high percentage of overweight people results from childhoods in which the real function of food to meet real needs wasn’t learned. As children, overweight people were not well fed, or in some way tried to meet other needs with food that weren’t met in healthy ways.
Debt is created in an attempt to meet needs for those whose needs were far from met as children. You set out to get things you want believing that will make up for what you didn’t get. Or the opposite. You save and save, depriving yourself, to make sure you have enough should a need arise.
These examples make the connection between childhood deprivation of having authentic needs met and the adult form of depriving yourself now.
Anxiety, depression, panic attacks, relationship struggles, and other reasons people seek therapy all result from of childhood deprivation. You cannot change the history but you can change what you now do to yourself. And you get to use self care to do it!
Loneliness and Isolation
Most Americans are lonely. We don’t feel like we fit in and belong. We join groups, but they don’t really satisfy the longing. We yearn to feel connected in a permanent way. When we don’t succeed, we have a myriad of ways to avoid the pain.
Until depression, loss, anxiety, panic, and a general feeling of unhappiness sets in. Then we go to therapy.
The ongoing belief that we are worthy of being deprived interferes with a full life, and can bring debilitating symptoms.
I have developed a Practice for you to address your current self deprivation, and remove the effects of a childhood where many of your very real needs were only partially met.
Imagine a practice for healing
emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually
that is based on caring for yourself.
Doesn’t that sound better than starting with past traumas, re-experiencing old pains, and confronting people who have been harmful? Well, healing won’t avoid those things, but you can start with good stuff.
The amazing thing is, when we add genuinely good self care, those past traumas will be awakened. And the self care will begin the healing process as you step into taking care of yourself in new ways.
Our self care Practice enhances the process of claiming more life and reducing symptoms that limit us. At the very same time, the Practice can be well used by people whose experience of life is good. Satisfying. Happy. Adding self care and watching what happens can alert you to what more is possible.
My co-writer and I are therapists who help people going through their particular distresses. And we’re good at it. So we set out to write this book to share a Practice that we offer clients who want to claim their lives more fully with more pleasure. And while talking about it daily, we found ourselves actually doing it! So we will share our practices along with explaining why we did what we did.
While I have worked with many people suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or are in abusive relationships, or are addicts, or suffering any disruption of life, Anne and I discovered the effect of self care even though our lives were going along just fine.
We excitedly began talking about starting a healing center, and out of that came the need to write this book. Since I have emotional obstacles to putting my knowledge in writing, I asked Anne to do the writing because she is a gifted writer and understands what I do.
I’d like to introduce myself. I’m the second author, Anne Stirling Hastings, and Elizabeth’s ghost writer. I have taken her wisdom and extensive thinking and put it into written words, which she could not do for herself. And I am adding my own experiences and thoughts. Mine are indented like this.
Amazingly, we have flowed so well through this process that we have had zero conflicts. As soon as Elizabeth mentioned starting a center and asked me to be part of it, I knew this was on my life pathd. And when she said she wanted to write a book, I saw that the book needed to come first. And off we went!
I am grateful to have found Anne back when she had a practice in the Northwest because her view of the world and life and spirituality coincided with mine. I could see from her books that she worked on her own healing. So in the early nineties I attended Anne’s support groups for people addressing sexual issues. As I specialized in sexuality too, we were also colleagues.
When she moved to another state we stayed in touch over her writing, and got together when she visited the Northwest. We evolved into co-healers. When my self esteem had increased to the point of accepting my inability to take my wisdom and knowledge out to the world, I was able to tell her that she needed to write a book for me. She said, of course. We aren’t friends in the sense of hanging out, doing things together. We are powerful supports to what is evolving. She has discovered that one of her identities is supporting me in claiming my ability to move out into the world with my gifts. I could allow myself to know this. We are claiming the identities of “assistant to giftedness,” and “visible giftedness.”
After years of emotional healing, much of it done with each other, we were now adding a wonderful new focus. Along with this project, we agreed to talk with each other every day. This added greatly to both of our lives.
And then we added even more self care! We hadn’t planned to do it. We just naturally talked about self care we would like to add, did it, and then discovered what happened next.
Instead of all positive reactions, our history of abuse showed up, too. Our severe deprivation.
We have long known that when people make positive changes in therapy, it will almost always be followed by returning to the old state. We call it back lash and falling back and kick back and even tsunami. But we didn’t realize that adding positive practices when living comfortably would trigger childhood experiences of life to get them healed.
Here’s one thing that happened to me. Anne adopted the practice of dry brushing the whole body each day which enhances lymph flow and helps the skin detoxify us. And makes the skin feel soft. So, I thought, I would do that too. It feels really good. At the same time I learned about the positive effect of red light, and began going to the local salon for 20 minutes at a time.
Here’s the crazy thing. I started trying to talk myself out of washing my face at night. I had reached my quota of self care, and when adding two new ones, I apparently have unconscious programming dictating that I have to stop an old one. I didn’t give in, though. I forced myself to keep washing my face.
Then over a few weeks I discovered changes that occurred just because of adding self care. I set boundaries fluidly. I stopped a woman who made little critical remarks, telling her not to. I comfortably spent time in a group next to a pool with no concern for my extra pounds and no makeup.
My next task was learning the history of that negative unconscious programming that showed up as I added new self cares.
Because we had been living well, you might think that it is odd that more stuff showed up to be healed. On the contrary, it was incredible to have the effects of deprivation in early childhood, beginning with being unwanted, show up. We didn’t have enough pain or symptoms to stimulate the healing. So self care pushed both of us to new levels of health, of freedom, of connection. Levels that we wouldn’t have had!
We came to see that this book is for anyone who wants to expand into a fuller life. You don’t have to have symptoms.
We fleshed out the Practice from our own experiences, and those of our clients. We watched ourselves flip back and forth between the pleasure of new self care and the old distresses. We came to understand that self care was only the beginning. If you stop there you would likely stop your new self care pretty fast. Like new year’s resolutions that fade quickly, your old limiting voices would show back up.
We processed our way over a few months, talking each day about what we were feeling, what we could relate to our childhoods, and having the healing emotions to let it go. Grief, of course. And also anger. Many of those shaming voices need to be angrily countered.
We are going to tell you about our experiences as we walk through the steps. We will show how even those of us with well working lives can pull up old limiting beliefs and emotions that interfere. We will also tell stories of our clients and others who employed self care to handle difficulties they are addressing.
We came to see that we could talk from our own experiences as well as clinical understanding and practice. This gave us even greater compassion for the pain involved in the process, as well as seeing up close what it’s like to watch the wonderful, life enhancing effect of changing our neuropathways.
We tell you that it works. We will tell you how it works for us.