Do you put others needs ahead of your own? Do you feel guilty if you take time out for yourself? Do you think you don’t deserve self-care?
Christopher Germer, Ph.D., author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion and a leading researcher in the field, describes 12 personality styles that impact how we take care of ourselves. Most people will recognize themselves in more than one of these styles, and the styles themselves overlap some. Knowing more about yourself will help you become more skilled at giving yourself exactly what you truly need, at exactly the right time.
Below, answer the questions under each style. The more questions you relate to and are saying “Yes, that’s me!”, the more likely that style fits you.
Try to approach this with curiosity (not self-judgment). Germer writes:
Our personalities are built primarily around the need to survive rather than to be happy, so rest assured that some aspects of your personality will run counter to emotional well-being and the practice of self-kindness.
Do you minimize your struggles, thinking other people have it much worse than you do?
Do you worry a lot about your loved ones? (If I worry enough, he or she will be safe.)
Do you offer a lot of support to others, but perhaps get attached to a specific outcome?
Do you feel selfish for taking care of your own needs?
Self-Care Tips for the Caregiver:
- Remember, you have to put your oxygen mask on first, before you can help anyone else.
- Taking care of yourself will put you in a better position to take care of others effectively.
- Realize you may not know the best outcome; it’s tough, but letting go of control is often what’s needed.
Do you get stuck in your head?
Do you obsess a lot?
Do you try to solve problems using rational thought?
Self-Care Tips for the Intellectual:
- Realize that not everything can be solved; some things just are.
- Emotions can be difficult and messy, but they can be great sources of information and a pathway to healing.
Do you feel like you’re never good enough?
Do you feel inadequate?
Do you tend to criticize yourself?
Self-Care Tips for the Perfectionist:
- To be human is to be imperfect; we are all in the same boat.
- Forgive yourself for any mistakes you’ve made (or think you’ve made).
- There’s no perfect way to do self-care!
Do you have trouble sharing your feelings?
Do you value being strong and in control?
Do you pride yourself on being self-reliant?
Self-Care Tips for the Individualist:
- Consider how good you feel when you help others; give this same opportunity to others and reach out for help.
- Know that it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for support. It’s often a sign of strength.
Do you feel you don’t deserve love and attention?
Do you feel badly about yourself, therefore you think you are bad?
When you start to be kind to yourself, do you experience intense and unpredictable feelings?
Do you tend to shut down emotionally, even when feeling good?
Self-Care Tips for the Survivor:
- Give yourself permission to practice self-care and self-compassion in small doses at first.
- “Shutting down” can be a survival method you’ve learned; reassure yourself that you’re safe now.
- Self-criticism is common if you’ve heard negative messages repeatedly as a child. Realize that these “voices” are from long ago.
Do you have trouble slowing down?
Are you constantly working?
Are you frequently in the “doing” mode versus the “being” mode?
Self-Care Tips for the Workhorse:
- There will never be the perfect time to take care of yourself. Something will always get in the way if you let it.
- Watch out for turning your self-care practice into just another thing to check off your to-do list.
Do you easily grow tired of things?
Do you have difficulty following through with projects?
Do you tend to jump from one thing to another?
Do you have trouble with consistency?
Self-Care Tips for the Butterfly:
- Consider the true cost of jumping from one activity to another (you never get the full benefit of one particular practice).
- Utilize the support of others to help you stick to one thing (for example, meeting a friend for a yoga class).
Do you feel like you don’t fit in?
Do you feel invisible?
Do you feel disconnected, not whole?
Self-Care Tips for the Outsider:
- Notice the circumstances when you most feel you don’t fit in.
- Allow yourself to experience your feelings with as much tenderness as possible.
- Remember that it’s okay to be different. Many of our great works of art and music, for example, were created by unique souls who may not have fit into conventional society.
- In other words, it’s okay to be weird!
Do you live in the moment?
Do you have trouble committing yourself to one thing?
Do others describe you as easy-going, even detached?
Do you have trouble making decisions?
Self-Care Tips for the Floater:
- Watch out for “easy-going-ness” turning into passivity or avoidance.
- Ask yourself, “What matters most?” to help guide you in your self-care and compassion practice.
Do you become easily indignant with people when they behave badly?
Do you have a strict sense of right and wrong?
Do you feel surprised when people don’t behave as you think they should?
Do you feel disillusioned by others?
Do you avoid taking care of yourself because it feels self-indulgent?
Self-Care Tips for the Moralist:
- Ask yourself whether your preoccupation with other’s behavior leads to suffering for yourself?
- All of us have the seeds of bad behavior within us; if we acknowledge this fact, we’re more likely to be compassionate to ourselves when we make mistakes.
Introvert and Extravert
Are you energized by your inner life? Are you energized by time alone? If so, you’re likely an introvert.
Are you energized by being around other people? If so, you’re likely an extravert.
Self-care tips for the Introvert and Extravert:
- Find a healthy balance between solitude and time with others.
- No two people will have the exact same ratio of alone time to people time, and that’s okay.
- You may need different things (alone time/time with others) depending on the day and the circumstance.
Which of these personality styles predominate in your own life?
How have your predominant styles helped with taking care of your self?
How have your predominant styles hindered your taking care of yourself?
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Photo via flickr.