If you look hard enough, there is a post floating around here where I admit I don’t think I’m a person. Now, I -know- I’m a person, but … it’s complicated.
and when talking about self-care, I found a lot of you carry that same idea.
I find it more in those who either suffered extended trauma, or multiple traumas- than those of single events.
'If I was a person- then this many bad things wouldn't have happened to me'
'The people who did this to me are generally good people. For all of them to have treated me like this- I must be sub human'
'No one protected me, even when they knew- I must not be worth protecting'
and when you spell them out like that- it can seem odd to those who do not have experience dehumanizing themselves. But for a lot of us, it is how we operate on a daily basis. On the basic assumption that we are not people.
And on one hand, it allows us to operate. If someone slights us, it doesn’t matter because slighting us was inevitable. Disrespect doesn’t matter as much, because we view ourselves as lessers, so of course others are going to disrespect us. It allows us to push through pain, it allows us to go on. It allows us to continue to interact with people who have done us great damage.
And when asked to entertain the notion that we are people, we will pay lip service to it. I know I’m a person- that’s a stupid question. However if you ask if it is okay to treat people the way we’ve been treated, is when a lot of us get uncomfortable.
Accepting at the core that we are people is going to take more than a sudden epiphany that ‘oh- you’re right, I have been dehumanizing myself’. And accepting that we are people is going to hurt at first. Because by being not-people, we didn’t have to grieve or mourn or feel betrayed.
But- how does one participate in self-care when they don’t believe in a self?
They do the thing I advise people not to do in general, but in life there are few absolutes.
They do it for other people.
When working with people who don’t have a sense of self- the way to start them doing self-care is to put it in perspective involving people or functioning.
'Boundaries allow both of you to function without hurting one another. If you won't set boundaries up for your own sake- will you do it for them?'
'Practicing self-care allows you to help more people. Work smarter, not harder. and working smarter is taking time to make sure you're at your best as often as possible'
'You need to eat and drink and sleep so that you have the energy to keep on doing things.'
People lacking a sense of self tend to work better off schedules of self care. Because they aren’t measuring their own responses- not at first. There is a hope that once people start taking better care of themselves, it will become more obvious why it is necessary, and how much easier everything is…
and in the mean time, also work on fighting the belief that you aren’t a person. and there will probably be tears, and anger, and a lot of pain. and it can seem like it isn’t worth it- because we were functioning just fine before.
But we are people, not machines.
and we deserve to live- not just exist.