What is a Healthy relationship with self?

ruborcoraxxx

MyPTSD Pro
can i ask if you could elaborate on this more? i am curious of your thoughts on this subject. i have a very rigid understanding of what healthy is that it is "good" to be healthy and "bad" to be unhealthy. but i can see how that language could potentially become overloaded of toxic positivity and whatnot as well.
Yep I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by "healthiness" and it’s normative thing. I was thinking of your question and today TR asked me when I was complaining I didn’t sense I was fitting in anywhere "but would you even like to be normal?"

So I had to think of what was normal. In the statistical sense, for me it’s the median point, a Gaussian curve. And you can deviate more or less from the median point, that is when the most people share the same characteristic that is set at some point. Like the IQ is based on such a calculation. But i guess many things can be calculated in this way, and depending on what you do select to constitute your norms, and if you select everything to make your norm by crossing them with each other in different dimensions (am I making sense??), then you’re left with a very small area that is very unlikely to be normal in the broad sense.

Another objection I had was that as I did find my own experience "normal" since it’s the only one I had, then I cannot even have an idea of what could be different than myself. I don’t have a control group of myself, so my own normal simply doesn’t make any sense at all.

But then if I had to think about "normal" in the sense it’s normative and what is wished for and represented as being the most relatable or desirable as a goal and a norm, then the word we’re looking for is hegemony and not normality. So, would I like to feel and behave like the hegemonic system in place is set? Hell no. Would I like my life to feel easier and more pleasant? Yes.

So then "healthy" for me is very linked to this idea of what’s desired as a good state. I do know that as in medical terms, healthy refers to an organism that is capable of maintaining itself and smoothly adapt to situations and manage physical or psychological distress. So in the way that healthy refers to an internal sense of comfort, efficiency in doing things and maintaining sustainable, enjoyable relationships where no harm is present, then I’m okay with healthy.

But healthy as being rigid sets of rules, you have to choose the rules and there you can have normativity/hegemonic imagination in it. With all ableist, sexist, racist, whateverist distortions that can contain. The places where a norm is set aren’t the places where statistical norms are. Norms are visions of the mind, of your own (by example many people here suffering from abuse find it somehow "normal" as it’s there!) and of society. So it’s a hot mess.

However at the end I do agree that at some point we must have criteria to decide whether something is "normal" (f*cking word again!) / expected / non-destructive / adaptive as a way of coping or if it’s the reverse, disordered. At least the word dis-order has some sincerity lol. So I’d say my standards would be: if you’re in prolonged pain, then you need help to cease it. If you’re causing harm to yourself or others, then the suffering from the harm is also the proof something needs to change. The sense of suffering, internal (yours) and/or external (you’re making a hard time to your environment to the point they’re more or less suffering from it), then it sets the limit between adaptive (or just neutral) and disordered.

So this is a very long and convoluted answer to basically say what you were saying. For me anything that is a rule that overtakes the underlying principles such as "healthy" has been, it’s problematic. Because you’re functioning in repressive mindsets. Not that no behaviour should be repressed, I think some should actually really be, but often by doing that we’re repressing the underlying meaning of it and this ends up being problematic. If you robotize yourself in rules that you have to follow, it might well be very useful for a while but it’s not comfortable and the lid still might explode on the long go. Which wouldn’t be healthy then! 🙃
 

Sideways

Moderator
I've been asked to reflect on my relationship with myself a lot of times in therapy. Because the reason I sought help in the first place was really uncomplicated: I hated myself. Didn't hate another living soul on the planet. But loathed myself so profoundly that continuing to live in my own company for the rest of my life had become completely intolerable.

So for me, having a "healthy" relationship with myself breaks down into parts.
1) define my concept of self (this is core complex trauma stuff - Judith Hermann decided that a distorted self-concept was so common with complex trauma that it should be part of the diagnostic criteria)
2) break down (with therapy) where that concept has been so distorted by my trauma that I've apparently become completely intolerable
3) work on repairing those distortions
4) ultimately, develop a (more realistic) concept of self that I can coexist with sufficiently to have values and goals and decide that staying alive in my own company, in the pursuit of those values and goals, is reasonable.

What is your concept of self? Can you define yourself?
Is that concept accurate, or is it distorted and distressing to you (the question usually arises because of the latter)?
And if it's distorted and distressing, then your concept of self needs work.

For me, ultimately, the goal is that I can have a healthy concept of self (healthy as in, not distorted by my trauma, but more accurate about who I objectively am), and then accept myself with a reasonable degree of comfort.

For me, when this issue comes up, norms and the nuances of relationships don't come into it much. It's more about (1) healing my distorted self concept; and (2) finding a path to self-acceptance (not always liking all detail, but self acceptance of it).
 

intothelight

Sponsor
For me it is just accepting myself, where I am at, warts and all. I focus on the things that I need to change, then the things I want to change and let other things be. I use to work really, really hard on ALL the symptoms and idiosyncrasies that are affiliated with PTSD, but then I realized that I am not a project, I don't have to be perfect and some of the PTSD symptoms are just a part of who I am. I will always "startle" but no big deal, so I left that one by the wayside. Now stopping rumination was important because it interfered with my life in the here and now. Pick the things that will make you feel good about just being you. Its a starting point.
 

grief

Sponsor
However at the end I do agree that at some point we must have criteria to decide whether something is "normal" (f*cking word again!) / expected / non-destructive / adaptive as a way of coping or if it’s the reverse, disordered.
i just wished to say i had read all of this and greatly enjoyed to hear your perspective of things. i do believe i agree with most of what you had said.

this in particuler had struck out to me because of it reminded me of the thread of whether ptsd is disordered or not. and we had gone to the defenetions of what is disorder and what is an ordinary response to atrocity, as judith herman puts it.

i do believe a more holistic defention of health is necessery for general consumption. we get so stuck into our rigid rules of what "health" means that we can often be quite unhealthy to reach those goals and maintain them.

what is "normal" for one may be dameging and awful for another. this is all real good food for thinking! 😅
 

Mach123

MyPTSD Pro
I’ve been thinking a lot about this thread, it’s defining for me. The therapist says I’m terrible with me. That I’m hollowed out with shame. I can’t make a succinct reply because it puts me all over the place. I always come back to the dichotomy. There had to be bad for there to be good.

Now I just want to write a bunch of nonsense that’s meant to be funny because that’s one of my coping mechanisms. It’s also what’s true for me about “life the universe and everything”.

“When I’m bad, I’m really really good.”

“Everything I like is illegal, immoral or fattening.”

Or, from the point of view of the maharaj, we live in duality. I move away form the unpleasant and toward the pleasant. But you can’t have one without the other . Plus I’m a Libra. I weigh everything till I’m unbalanced. Thanks for an interesting and thought provoking thread.
 

Friday

Moderator
What is your concept of self? Can you define yourself?
Is that concept accurate, or is it distorted and distressing to you (the question usually arises because of the latter)?
And if it's distorted and distressing, then your concept of self needs work.

For me, ultimately, the goal is that I can have a healthy concept of self
For me it is just accepting myself, where I am at, warts and all. I focus on the things that I need to change, then the things I want to change and let other things be.
Pick the things that will make you feel good about just being you. Its a starting point.
THESE are things I can really relate to.

The concept of “relationship” for me absolutely requires a second party outside of myself. Which means it wouldn’t even help if I rebroke myself. 2 or more seperate versions of myself relating to each other are still are neither going to have a unified answer, but very different answers; nor is the divide external, but internal. The concept just doesn’t work. I can have more of a relationship with wood in general, or a piece of specific wood, than I can have with myself.

But how I think/feel/act towards and about myself? That’s something else entirely.
 

Lionheart

Sponsor
For me, a "healthy" relationship with myself is pretty much the same as a healthy relationship with someone else.

I accept myself unconditionally. I am free to be myself. I love and give myself the same support that I would give others. I value myself intellectually, emotionally, and physically. I can explore who I am and who I wish to be without critical judgment. And any other positive thing I can think of without being abusive or overly critical of myself.

Don't feel bad, ya can't know what "healthy" is if you never had anyone to model that behavior for you or teach you. Or ya have to do like me and learn from books. What I shared above came from a book called "Struggle For Intimacy" By Janet Woititz. I didn't have a dam clue what healthy was and the fact that I found out by reading this book was a pure accident.
 
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