Building a Self-Care Community

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Welcome back to our 12-part self-care series, designed to keep you on your own list of important things to do and people to help.

This week we’re going to work on building up your list of people who can enhance your self-care in three distinct roles:

1. Guides

While we can learn from everyone in our life, guides are people who have a more formal role of helping us along in our healing journey. A guide might be a therapist, doctor, nutritionist or dietitian, yoga teacher, 12-step sponsor, mentor, workshop leader, course instructor, or an author or speaker whose work you admire.

It can be challenging to let someone into your recovery process, but all it takes is a willingness to try and to be honest. In yoga, satya is the practice of being truthful in one’s thoughts, words and actions. Honesty is truly the foundation of recovery and self-improvement, that’s why Step One in any 12-step program is admitting you have a problem.

Luckily, you don’t need to identify or admit the whole problem before you ask for help. You can start small and with one issue at a time, to clear away whatever is blocking you from moving forward in your life.

2. Helpers

Asking for help doesn’t stop with these formal helping relationships. You might need help getting to those appointments – whether that’s getting a ride, arranging a babysitter, trading household chores, or switching a work schedule.

The same goes for your other self-care activities – they all need some sort of resources, whether that’s time, materials, attention, or money – and you may need help making those happen.

For people who are recovering from an eating disorder, accepting support from others can be unsettling. You may not know how to receive that support, and you may not feel like you deserve it.

The first step in practicing receiving support is to clarify what help you need. Do you need someone to keep you company while you eat a meal? Do you need to talk about something that’s bothering you? Or do you need to forget about something that’s bothering you by getting out and doing something fun?

Before you think about asking specific people for help, make a list of the qualities you would like them to have, for example compassionate, patient, trustworthy, attentive, and able to challenge in a gentle way.

There may also be people with qualities you want to avoid, such as cold, unreliable, judgmental, or the opposite of anything on your first list.

Now, make your list of the people in your life who have the qualities you want, and who don’t have the qualities you don’t want. Strive for relationships that are interdependent – equal – rather than dependent or co-dependent.

Over time, if you keep practicing, then receiving help will become more familiar. Though it may still be challenging, once something is familiar it usually feels more comfortable as well.

3. Peers

There are many places to meet people and strike up friendships To find people who share your interests, look for groups dedicated to your passions. It’s a very deliberate way of forming a community. (Here are more tips from Fast Company.)

How about something you’ve always wanted to learn or explore, like a foreign language or some kind of creative outlet? Learning something new together helps form a “newbie” bond with others. You could join a yoga class, art group, book study or choir, or look for Meetup events. In a future post we’ll talk about working together for a cause.

“We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior.” – Stephen R. Covey

When you have your own problems, it can be hard to support someone else, especially if we feel they’re being difficult. A lot of times we judge people’s physical appearance or outward actions, without any idea of what’s going on underneath.

We only see the tip of the iceberg. We don’t know their family history or how they’ve been hurt by other people. That’s why it’s really important to suspend judgment of others, so we can learn to love and accept ourselves.

As this week’s self-care action, focus on building or nurturing your own fellowship community of guides, helpers, and peers. It doesn’t need to be large – focus on quality, rather than quantity.

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