Do You Treat Yourself Like Godiva Chocolate or a Seven Eleven Slurpee?

If someone were to ask you what’s the most important thing in your life, what would your answer be?

Your partner?

Your kids? Your car? The answer for the big bucks

Your car? The answer for the big bucks

The answer for the big bucks is YOU!

While my iPod is near the top of my list, I’m my most valuable possession these days. Think about it. Without you being at your best all other areas of your life are going to suffer. Believe me, I know this to be true from experience.

Having had way too much up close and personal experience with narcissists in my life, I used to think this attitude was selfish and wanted to be nothing to do with it.  Time and time again, I proved that you attract people with the qualities you need to develop the most while I took giving to a whole, new, sick level. With my generosity coming from a sense of lack, I put others’ wants and needs before my own so that I always ended up angry and resentful.  The whole time I was doing what they wanted, I was boiling mad inside and grumbling under my breath because I wasn’t meeting my own needs.

Finally, I realized that the other person doesn’t usually care about getting their way as much as I assumed, and even if they do, their happiness isn’t automatically more important than mine. No one was going to give me a shiny medal for my sacrifice or effort.

When my kids were small, I drove straight from Florida to North Carolina with a 3 month old and a 3-year-old peeing in a diaper (which I held – just let me clarify) while my then-husband cruised comfortably in another car by himself listening to his tunes, instead of Barney, sipping coffee, and stopping whenever needed for potty breaks.  Now, I realize that this was totally my choice, but I didn’t at the time. I can’t even point my finger at him.  I did it to myself.

While making yourself a priority can be taken to the extreme of being a schmuck, it’s healthy to be a little bit selfish, get comfortable saying “No,” and set boundaries for yourself. The Dalai Lama calls this beingwise selfish” instead of “foolish selfish.”

I’ve even gotten good at being “wise selfish.”  Maybe a little too good.

My brain injury, the result of a pill-popping suicide attempt, was actually a blessing in disguise because it forced me to put myself first. I had to have the “wise selfishness” to make choices which were good for me and my brain while saying “No, thanks” to the people and things, that may have been more fun, but weren’t going to get me where I wanted to go.

My life now reflects an attitude of honoring myself.  I put healthy food in my body. I take supplements. I make sure to get ample sleep. Almost every day, I find time to exercise or do yoga. I meditate daily. I’ve gotten comfortable with declining many requests for my time and attention in order to take care of me and promote my happiness.

You get the picture. While I’ve been accused of having OCD about all of these “must do’s”, which may be a little bit true, I prefer to think of it as having self-discipline. In this way, I send the message to myself and the world that I’m important. While I was recovering from a brain injury and still working on getting myself mentally and spiritually healthy, I was vigilant about my musts.  Someone already there might not need to be so militant.

While I’ve been accused of having OCD about all of my “must-do” daily activities – which may be a little bit true, I prefer to think of it as having self-discipline. In this way, I send the message to myself and the world that I’m important. While I was recovering from a brain injury and still working on getting myself mentally and spiritually healthy, I was vigilant about my musts. These days I’m not so strict. Someone already there might not need to be so militant either.

You teach people how to treat you.  Most often, people aren’t going to treat you any better than you treat yourself. Are you teaching people to treat you like Godiva chocolate or a Seven-Eleven Slurpee?

image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bakerella/

3 Comments

  1. cityofstrangers Reply

    Hi Debbie,

    I've been following your blog for a month or two now (after finding the link from 'brokenbrilliant'. I had my last concussion about ten years ago (I think) – the last of eight going back to when I was a kid. It's been a long, very long road, but I can relate to what you wrote about 1) putting yourself first, and 2) alcohol. The former took me years to be able to do. The internet has been a great resource in reducing the isolation of the experience – ten years ago, I really didn't know what was going on, how to deal with it, and with a couple of exceptions, help was minimal and understanding ditto.

    As far as alcohol goes, I was shocked to read that your neurofeedback (can you do this at home?) read 'fresh brain injury' after a couple of glasses of wine. After I was first injured, I couldn't drink for a year or more – I'd get insanely drunk on almost nothing, and the hangovers would last for days afterwards – and be competely debilitating. I confess though that after time had passed, and my tolerance had increased, alcohol became an escape to a malady that went on and on – and, on the positive side, allowed me to live in public again in a way I couldn't for years after I was injured.

    However, it has never stopped being debilitating after the fact and it makes sense that it would read as a 'fresh' brain injury because all too often, that's what it has felt like.

    Best,

    Tim

  2. Debbie Hampton Reply

    Tim, thank you very much for your comment. Nurofeedback cannot be done at home. It has to be done by a licensed, trained practitioner. I have done it for two years now as much as 4 or 5 times a week at first and now I am down to 2 times a week. It has truly been amazing, and I attribute it largely with my recovery.

    Yes, it can detect the slightest changes in the brainwaves and even a little alcohol has such a strong effect on them. My practitioner says after a brain injury NO alcohol. I have found other ways to have fun and to calm myself. I can do without.

    I applaud your efforts to rehabilitate. Keep it up. It is really up to nobody but you. The progress stops when you stop. I also understand your isolation. Without the internet the last couple of years, I would have been totally alone. Keep working and keep reaching out.

    Here are some nuerofeedback links:

    EEG Spectrum International – The leading provider of Education in Neurofeedback.
    http://www.eegspectrum.com

    Biofeedback Certification Institute of America
    http://www.bcia.org

    North Carolina Biofeedback Society
    http://www.ncbiofeedback.org

    Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback
    http://www.aapb.org

    International Society for Neurofeedback and Research
    http://www.isnr.org

  3. cityofstrangers Reply

    Debbie,

    Thanks for the links. I wish I'd known more about neurofeedback, about brain injury treatments in general, when I was injured last. I think treatment – awareness – has come a long way in the last ten years or so. The Iraq war, growing awareness of sports injuries have created that awareness and hopefully it will be built on . . .

    I couldn't drink at all for a couple of years after I was injured. Two drinks and I'd be out of my mind. But over time, it became a relief then a crutch – then a problem. The hangovers are still terrible. I try and do without but life is never a straight line. But you're so right – you can only rely on yourself.

    Keep writing . . .

    Best,

    Tim

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