Sifting through the Rubbish
Updated: May 11, 2021
This is an photograph of my dad, taken by a travelling companion because it looked as though my dad was standing in a litter bin. At the time, my dad didn't realise that this was the case. As I looked at the picture, it came to represent something that I had encountered in my own experience and in the stories of many of my counselling clients. The way we treat ourselves can be a bit rubbish! Often, we are careful to treat others with respect and kindness. We try hard to support, praise and look after the people around us. We speak to them gently, encourage them in their endeavours, and recognise their achievements. Often, though, the narrative is very different when we make the effort to recognise the ways in which we speak to or behave towards ourselves. If we take time to consider our self-care, we can come to realise that there are times when we deal with ourselves in an unthinking, bullying or impatient manner. This occurs for a variety of reasons. Perhaps we have become accustomed at some point to not being noticed, to others not respecting our boundaries, or to others behaving in uncaring ways towards us. We can subconsciously set up habits and perpetuate our experiences by our own hand. If we have become accustomed to people paying no heed to our emotions, we might ignore the fact that we are unhappy or experiencing burnout, and continue to try to work or support others without the necessary self-care to remain resilient. We might push ourselves into situations about which we feel uncomfortable. We might not look after our physical or mental health adequately. The first step in learning to value ourselves is to notice the way in which we are caring for ourselves right now. Do we heed our emotions? Do we force ourselves to do things that are harmful to us? Do we prioritise the wishes of others to the detriment of our own wellbeing? For me, this photo is a useful shorthand reminder of all the above...and it makes me smile. Maybe you can find a handy visual cue to remind you to care for and consider yourself, so that you don't find yourself unwittingly discounted and feeling a bit rubbish.