Here we’ll cover:
- Your well-being matters and makes a HUGE difference!
- Clearing up any reasons not to take care of yourself first
- Defining your role
- Reality check for happiness
- One thing to take it up a notch
1. Your well-being matters and makes a HUGE difference!
Where to Focus Now and Why
Ok, first things first:
Your health and well-being matter as much as the person you’re concerned about, and your role in this is important. We know that in many ways you’re struggling, so let’s start there… because the road to change is lengthy for all of us. We need you taken care of and up for the journey, wherever it may take you.
We know that you most likely came to Village because you want to help someone else, and we’re committed to that too. But first there are a couple of factors at play that may not be front of mind for you right now that are helpful to bring into focus.
The following principles, thought exercises and actions will help you with small steps to keep your tank full.
- The quality of support you give depends on the quality of life you’re experiencing for yourself. Every day.
This can sound like a bummer if you’re overwhelmed, over-worked, overextended, or just over it. But it’s true. Like everything else we share with you, clinical research backs it up. And we’re here to help build a new foundation together.
You know how the oxygen mask on the airplane metaphor tells us we have to take basic steps to care for ourselves before tending to another person?
That’s because if you can’t breathe, you can’t do much for anyone.
How well are you breathing these days? Now’s a great time to take a deep breath (or two!)
- Your well-being and quality of life sets an example for the person you’re concerned about.
Your actions are either shining new light on their way of viewing the world or reinforcing their perspective that life is more often than not painful.
When you are suffering, your ability to help someone else in whatever they’re going through is diminished. You also reinforce to that person the idea that life is hard.
People use substances because some fundamental aspect of life feels hard to them.
How can we hope for anyone else to build a new perspective on life if we are reinforcing their old one?
This might sound like a hard ask, but it’s not when it starts with just one small step each day to take care of yourself and take your quality of life up a notch.
2. Clearing up any reasons to not take care of you first
You may have reasons to not focus on yourself right now
Let’s look first at which of these sound familiar:
I’m managing at the moment.
I don’t think I need help.
I don’t know how to find helpful services for where the situation is right now.
I’ll focus on me when we get through all this.
I don’t want / like to ask for help.
It’s natural to think some or ALL of these when we’re focusing on helping others.
But letting any of these reasons stop you from being effective will, if it hasn’t already, affect your physical health and disrupt you from starting to see the results you’re hoping for and working toward.
So let’s get moving on down the path.
3. Defining your role
When you’re up for reality checks, you start to feel empowered.
We can get so focused on what’s going on that we might not realize where we’re actually at in our relationship with the person we care about or with ourselves. We’re human, so our ‘realities’ get biased.
But we know this:
Reality is the foundation for change.
It will be beneficial to take a compassionate and truthful look at where you’re at, just an internal inventory.
Have you been feeling any of these lately?
- Loss of yourself: You’re so engulfed in the supporting role that other aspects of your life, the things you love and the things you do that make you uniquely you, have fallen into the background.
Pro tip: One action a day can get us back on track here.
B. Change in the relationship’s identity: Your relationship with the person you love has become so focused on their struggle that the original dynamic - what the relationship once looked like - is a thing of the past.
Pro tip: Relationships do change over time as we change ourselves, so it helps to look toward creating a new relationship that works for you both.
C. Obligation, Guilt or Responsibility: When you observe how you’re acting in this relationship, how much of it is driven by a sense of obligation, guilt, or responsibility? These motivators are precursors to feeling resentment later. If they’re your driving factors, we’ll help you work on shifting into motivations that keep you connected, clear and that take care of you.
Pro tip: You are responsible for you and you can’t actually change this other person. How can you possibly be responsible for them? We do the best we can, armed with the right tools here!
Simply getting eyes wide open honest about your status in each one of these is another brick in the new foundation for moving forward. Let’s keep going.
Research shows the first step is knowing that in some way we’ve been playing the role of caregiver. When we can see that, we’re equipped to get the support we need to effectively empower the ones we’re concerned about.
We know you’re invested in change. So help us help you.
Let’s acknowledge that you’re playing an important role, or as we call it, being an ally.
And settle in for the long game, because rewiring the brain can take a while.
The faster you improve your well-being and the quality of your life, though, the faster you model a worldview where new coping mechanisms become available, and where substance use can’t possibly be confused as a value add.
4. Reality check for happiness
The chaos that substance use disorders bring into families often makes it hard to sort emotions from facts.
Let’s look at real areas of our own well-being where we may be able to give some immediate and small self-love. A perfect place to start is with asking:
How happy am I with this in my life?
Check in on the 5 elements in this Happiness Scale and then…
Choose just one. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Let’s choose one area where you scored lower than you might like to be and see an idea for an action you might take to help bump it up a notch.