Mothers Have Needs Too!

Allison Gilbert, LMFT, Santa Cruz Counselor Lic: MFC 24087

Emotional Self-Care

A Husband's Support
When I was first married, I thought my husband would be my emotional support.  I assumed he'd be there for me in ways I didn't get met as a child.  Eventually, after many years of badgering, I taught him a few things about how to support me.  But mostly I learned to accept his personal limitations and realized I didn't have to get all my needs met through my husband.

Others Shortcomings
Here's my tip: Recognize when you need emotional support but don't try to get it from those who aren't able to give it to you.  Don't expect your husband or friends to always be there for you.  It's unrealistic and puts unnecessary strain on your relationships.  Sometimes people we are closest to don't have the distance necessary to deal well with our pain.

Techniques to Use By Yourself
Through the years I've discovered ways to have the emotional freedom I need. The following are some of the techniques I use to care for myself when my pain is overwhelming and those closest to me can't help.  I like these techniques because they are ways I can take care of myself all by myself.  That is why I am sharing them with you.  They cost nothing and they give you the ability to care for yourself in your own time. 

EFT - The "Emotional Freedom Techniques" may seem a bit hokey at first, but if you use them regularly, you will get results.  You may need outside support for the tougher issues but what I like about these techniques is that they are something you can use on yourself, by yourself, for yourself and you can get the manual for free.  Click here for the free manual.
TAT - TAT is another technique very similar to EFT in that it targets the resolution of emotional issues quickly and easily.  This technique can also be done on your own.  Click here for the free manual.

Writing Your Resentments & Fears - There's a writing technique I learned in Al-Anon that helps clarify and discharge emotions.  You start with your resentment and then make a list of fears and address it all to your Higher Power.  Your struggles in life really are about your relationship to your Higher Power.  The following is the format: 
"Dear_______, I have a resentment toward _____________ for __________ because I have a fear of______________because I have a fear of__________ because I have a fear of _______________..."  Continue writing down fear after fear until you get to the bottom of your fears. 
"Dear G-d, 
I have a resentment toward the school board for closing our school and now reopening it 9 years later because I have a fear we missed out on being there because I have a fear everything would have been different if we didn't have to move to a new school because I have a fear things didn't go well after that because I have a fear of being controlled by something outside of myself that can surprise me because I have a fear I won't be able to handle it because I have a fear of  believing that everything turns out badly unless I've planned it because I have a fear of the unknown because I have a fear of You surprising me with lessons because I have a fear of feeling at fault because I have a fear of punishment because I have a fear of suffering because I have a fear of hurting and of my loved ones hurting because I have a fear You are really not there to catch us when we fall because I have a fear of there being something evil and apart from You because I have a fear of not really knowing You because I have a fear You may have our good intentions in mind but that it still may hurt to be corrected by You...."

Continue writing each fear you uncover beneath the previous fear until you feel complete.  At the end, you can do one of two things, either:
1. write: "I am now entirely ready to have these fears and resentments removed.  Please remove them now, thanks.  I pray only for the knowledge/experience of Your will for me and the power to carry that out."  Sign it and then rip it up and throw it away.                                                                           Or:   2.  You can begin writing from the voice of your Higher Power answering you.

There are times when these techniques don't help and you are still full of pain.  This is when it's a good time to check in with a therapist.  A therapist is the perfect person to use when you have the need to freely explore your emotions in a safe environment with the support of another person.

Emotional Self-Care
If you want more emotional support from others and can't seem to get it, make sure you do get it.  There are many more techniques than those I've outlined above.  There's always a way to care for yourself emotionally.

©2007 Allison Gilbert, M.A., L.M.F.T.; Free Tips

Omega 3's Help with Depression:
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Bay Area Postpartum Hotline: 1-888-773-7090

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 "Allison, you were a lifesaver. I hope you don't mind my rhapsodizing about your help, but I am still incredibly grateful to you for helping our family in our time of need, and so I will continue boasting about how awesome you are to just about anyone who will listen."-Mother of a preschooler and a newborn

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