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Self Care Tips

What I Know Now

Karen Rowinsky - Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Have you ever felt regret or guilt about something you have said or done in the past? If you do, you are not alone. Many of us feel bad about choices we have made at particular times in our life. We may regret hurting someone we care about through our actions. Or, there may have been times when we did not take care of, or stand up for, ourselves the way we would have liked.

When a client comes to my office with regrets about how they handled themselves in the past, I often work with them on having empathy with his or her past self. One way to do this is to write a letter to the self you were at that particular time. I got this idea from the book my friend Leslie gave me, What I Know Now: Letters to my Younger Self  by Ellyn Spragins. In it, the author asked celebrity women to consider a time in their past where they wish they "had know then what they know now."

You can do this too. Here are a few simple steps:

  1. Think of a time in the past where you feel you thought or acted in a way you regret.
  2. Imagine who you were at that time (your age, relationships, developmental stage, hurts, beliefs, sense of self).
  3. Re-frame your "script" about that time and begin to feel empathy for that person who was you.
  4. Take pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and write a note to your younger self using the wisdom you have gained and the compassion you feel. Give advice, explain something you may have missed, or even commiserate on the situation. 

After doing this you will probably feel more accepting of your past self and more understanding of why it was you acted in that way at that time. You also should have some sense of relief to know that you have grown and learned from that time in your life.

Self care is not only about caring for yourself in the present but can be caring for who you were in the past.

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