Taking Care of Yourself

Self-Therapy For People Who ENJOY Learning About Themselves

Do you think you know Michael Jackson well?
How about Bill Clinton?
Oprah Winfrey? Julia Roberts? Adolph Hitler?

We think we know these famous people quite well even though we've never even shared a cup of coffee with them. They are too well known to be understood.

The same thing happens with popular ideas.

In the United States, for instance, we think we know all about what a democracy is. We even think we live in one (while we actually live in a republic). Democracy is too well known to be understood.

In psychology, "self-care" is like big celebrities and grand ideas. It's too well known to be understood.


Self-care means always taking full responsibility for our own safety and warmth.
Each part of this definition needs to be looked at carefully.


Since we are the only person who is always with us, we need to ALWAYS be our own caregiver.


It is wise and healthy to allow good people to take care of us sometimes.

It feels great to imagine that someone else is fully in charge of our care.

But if their mood changes dramatically or if they get called away suddenly we need to know immediately that we can continue to feel safe and warm on our own.

We only imagined that they were fully in charge of our care. They were just a temporary substitute for our own good internal parent.

We were always fully responsible ourselves.




How do we know when we are safe enough and warm enough?

It would be accurate to simply say "we know it when we feel it," but for a more complete understanding we need to think about when we were infants.

Adults need to feel just as safe and warm as infants do. To feel safe, we need enough-but-not-too-much food, air, heat, water, exercise, rest, and elimination.

Of course, we also need to be away from physical danger.

And to feel warm we need plenty of kind attention.


Feeling safe seems a lot more complicated when we get older.

Driving a car, violence in the culture, physical addictions, and many other aspects of adult life must be handled.

But all of these can be covered under one umbrella: Do we want to live and do we want to live well?

If we are certain, down deep, that we want both of these things we will almost always be able to find a way to stay safe from real threats.

Our survival instinct is enormously strong.


Getting emotional warmth in adult life also seems more complicated.

Most of us think that getting enough warmth isn't our job, it's the job of our closest friend or our primary partner.

Last Updated: 30 March 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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