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On helping yourself

May 26, 2016

 



My own sadness after a loss sits between my lower ribs, at the sternum, the same place you'd put the heel of your hand to perform CPR if I were to stop breathing.

 

(Don't worry, I'm still breathing. I checked.)

 

When I put pressure there, I feel better. When pressure goes away, my eyes swell. If they swell enough, tears stream. If enough tears stream, they eventually reach my sternum, and, again, some relief. It's a cycle.

 

The less aware I am of the source of my pain, the less it hurts. But, I pretty much live for awareness...

 

...so, I put pressure back on my sternum, release, and allow my eyes to do the rest until the pain subsides.

 

Sweet Rain

 

Oh, sweet rain,

you are more welcome than you think.

Sometimes when you sprinkle

I simply wish you’d pour,

but I know you know your blessings

are all too easy to ignore.

 

Oh, sweet rain,

be not angry,

but I understand you’re sad. 

Still, I need your honest heart

to believe in changes

only you can start.

 

I’m sorry if I’ve let you down,

or slighted you when you came.

Yes, I stayed inside at times

when you came out to play,

but look now, oh, sweet rain,

my boots are on today.

 

Depending on your field of work, you've most likely taken some sort of training course to prepare you should you ever need to assist someone in a drastic, life-saving measure. Hopefully you've never had to bear the burden of such a traumatic event, but certainly many of you have. 


Less well-known are courses on saving the life you call your own. Much of what we experience day-to-day is learned "the hard way"—on the spot, and without previous experience (though in time experience is accumulated) . Perhaps that's because saving yourself is an really an inside job. 

 

In David Ellerman's research, Helping People Help Themselves: Towards a Theory of Autonomy-Compatible Help, he writes that several points of commonality exist in the universal "Doer/ Helper" relationship, and uses a car metaphor to sum up his intertwining themes:

 

  1. The car must start its journey from where the doer-driver is.
     

  2. The vision of the road ahead needs to be from the vantage point of the driver.
     

  3. It would be folly for guides ("backseat drivers") to grab the steering wheel and try to drive.
     

  4. Being driven by someone else weakens self-reliance and self-esteem.

 

Sure, first you learn how to drive via instruction and practice, but once you get behind the wheel, you're primarily on your own. So it goes with other life experiences, too. Thus, when on your journey as the "Doer", ask yourself: Do I like it here?  (If your answer is "yes", you'll inevitably stay.) ​

 

If and when your answer is "No"...

  • Seek advice from other people in your feel-better field. (This is completely dependent upon what that field is and how you learn best; the options are practically limitless.) Try out some of their strategies. Develop your own.
     

  • Invite people on your journey whom you trust and people who support you.  (Leave others at home.)
     

  • Carry on, utilizing the guidance and tools you obtained en route.                          

Sometimes you'll have to change course, perhaps making your goal more attainable, or more challenging (based on your needs). Other times you'll have to change the people on your journey. It will not be easy, and it certainly won't be painless. But, since your life depends on this very journey, you might as well help yourself along the way. 

 

Research shows no one else will.

 

Turan Nazirova, of Baku, Azerbaijan is a fine art painter and illustrator. Her featured piece is from her "Eyes Collection." You can visit her on Facebook: Turan Nazirova Art, or see more of her portfolio on Behance.

 

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