Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tough Self-Love

When is it time to give yourself some "tough love"? This question arose in a discussion yesterday at a chronic pain support group I attend as a spiritual advisor.

This issue come up when one person in the group, who had been depressed over some losses in his life, said that he was "stuck." He had tried medications and psychotherapy, but still couldn't break free of the depression. He has a loving family, including a supportive spouse, who are empathetic and understanding of his painful condition.

Then, one member of the group said, "It's okay to be depressed, but it's not okay to be depressing. You need some tough love to help you move forward." However, this person's spouse was not the tough love type. Another member said, "If your spouse can't do it, you need to give yourself a good kick in the rear."

How do you give yourself tough love? One way is to refuse to wallow in self-pity over your circumstances. Tough love focuses on actions rather than feelings-- it won't let you use your feelings, no matter how painful, as an excuse for not acting in a positive and healthy way.

Tough love can also be a tool in our spiritual toolbox. When we're stuck in a negative place, we can give ourselves a "tough love" good kick in the rear to shake us out of our negativity and malaise. One thing to remember is that tough love needs to be loving-- it needs to be done in the best interests of the one receiving it.

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