Indigo's Peer Journal Exercises- Exercise #4
Giving Yourself Permission
Here's an easy way to get used to the idea that you deserve to make choices about what you want- sort of a counterpart to the "Say NO" Exercise, only from the opposite viewpoint.
Here's how it works:
Over the course of a week, give yourself permission to do or have three things you wouldn't normally do or have, especially if you feel it's because you didn't deserve them.
These things can be a simple thing like lunch out alone or with a friend, renting a movie only YOU want to see, asking your husband to fix dinner for the kids so you can go somewhere alone after work, or taking a bubble-bath with your favorite book and headphones for two hours, so no one else can bother you :).
In other words, be kind to yourself, and feel good about it.
Write in your journal how it felt to be able to freely give to yourself, and what you thought about the experience.
What you get from this exercise:
Recognizing and asserting your needs or wants is essential, especially in a relationship- unless you intend to allow others to walk on you forever. This exercise helps in establishing a sense of self-worth- and also can assist you in learning to trust that others can help you to fulfill your needs.
- Many, many people are expected to put their own needs or wishes behind others'. Victims of abuse are especially used to not having their needs recognized- often, even if they are recognized, those needs are belittled. Victims tend not to consider themselves important enough to assert that they have a need for something, or what that need might be. Allowing yourself the control to decide what you want and when you should have it can be a hard feat to master. Any time you allow yourself some extra measure of control, it re-inforces the idea that you are worthy of having that control and the desire to use it as you wish for something that makes you feel good about yourself. Also, allowing yourself to recognize and acknowledge that you, as an individual, have needs and wants, gains you a sense of yourself as a person, an individual with wishes and needs - not some "thing" that belongs to another's whims. It also helps to break that cycle abuse victims get into in relationships - the one where the victim's needs go unexpressed so they become resentful toward their partner, and the partner has no clue they felt that way in the first place. No one can read our minds; we have to be willing to express what we think and feel.
An off-shoot to this exercise might be to track down certain things you know you like and ask for them more often. Victims tend to have a limited notion of what they truly like and don't like, including foods, places, types of clothing, etc. Much of their behavior may be set by patterns instilled in their youth- a youth they may not have had any control over. They may have, for example, often continued to eat a particular food they dislike long into adulthood, not realizing they had the right to decide if they actually wanted to! Learning to recognize the things that make you feel your best, and distinguishing them from what makes you feel obviously terrible, can be a relief to many people, especially if they do not recognize where these negative feelings are arising from. Using the Association Web for this exercise may be easiest.
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