Teresa, 37, and a successful physician sought my help because she often felt inadequate. While she really valued herself as a doctor, she did not value herself in her important relationships with friends and family. In addition, she said she wanted to be in a loving relationship but she took no actions to meet available men.
In the course of our work together, it became apparent that Teresa rarely took loving action on her own behalf with her friends and family. For example, Maria, one of Teresa’s friends, would often get angry and blame Teresa when Teresa was not available for dinner with Maria. Teresa would feel guilty and responsible for Maria’s feelings and meet her for dinner even when she was exhausted from work. Teresa would feel drained after these dinners and depressed for a few days after, never realizing it was because she had not taken loving care of herself.
Teresa realized that the reason she was afraid to be in a relationship was because she had no idea how to take care of herself around others. She was terrified of completely losing herself in an important relationship. She realized that if she could not speak up for herself with Maria, how could she ever speak up and take loving action for herself with a man she was in love with? She realized that she would continue to feel lonely, anxious, inadequate, and depressed until she learned to take loving action for herself.
Many people suffer daily from anxiety, depression, stress, and anger as well as from feelings of guilt, shame and inadequacy. The major cause of these feelings is a lack of loving action on their own behalf.
Loving actions fall into two categories: Loving actions for yourself and loving actions in relationship to others.
LOVING ACTIONS FOR YOURSELF
Loving actions for yourself are those actions that attend to your own needs. When you take loving action in your own behalf, you are letting yourself know that you matter, you are important, you count. When you fail to take loving action, you give yourself the message that you are not important, which leads to feelings of depression and inadequacy.
Loving actions for yourself might include:
- Pampering yourself.
- Eating nutritious foods.
- Getting enough exercise.
- Keeping your work and home environments clean and organized.
- Getting enough sleep.
- Creating a balance between work and play. Making sure you have time to get your work done, as well as time to do nothing, reflect, learn, play and create.
- Creating a good support system of people who love and care about you.
- Being organized with your time, getting places on time, paying bills on time, and so on.
- Choosing to be compassionate with yourself rather than judgmental toward yourself.
- Creating a balance between time for yourself and time with others.
- Making sure you are physically safe by wearing a seat belt in a car, a helmet on a motorcycle, scooter, or bike, goggles when necessary, and so on.
LOVING ACTIONS IN RELATIONSHIP TO OTHERS
Loving actions in relation to others might include:
- Being kind and compassionate toward others without compromising your own integrity or ignoring your own needs and feelings.
- Saying no when you mean no and yes when you mean yes, rather than giving yourself up and going along with something you don’t want to do, or automatically resisting what another wants from you.
- Taking care of your own needs instead of trying to change and control others. Accepting your lack of control over others and either accepting them as they are or not being around them.
- Speaking your truth about what is acceptable to you and what is unacceptable and then taking action for yourself based on your truth.
- Taking personal responsibility for your own feelings and needs, instead of being a victim and making others responsible for your feelings and needs.
- Creating a balance between giving and receiving, rather than a one-way street with another person.
As a result of learning to take better care of herself alone and with others, Teresa no longer felt depressed and inadequate. She gradually lost her fears of being in a relationship, and is delighted to be meeting available men.