Self-care is often on my mind these days. Mostly because I realize how little I gave myself over the last several years. My former self liked to run myself ragged and then bemoan how sacrificial I was. There is such a thing as too nice and I have had to learn (and I’m still learning) that valuing myself requires I set boundaries and stick to them.
Self-Care & Victims
Last night, my husband and I were watching an episode of Forensic Files, which was about a woman who was a DJ who was found in a Community Garden, and as you may have guessed, was murdered. The story peaked my interest because many of her co-workers suggested she was open about how she felt on the air and was often too accommodating and friendly.
She probably lacked boundaries and thought the best of people. I am not suggesting her murder was her fault. It’s always the fault of the victimizer, not the victim, but it did get me thinking about how some people become targets for various crimes or just of people with mental health problems, such as narcissism. More personally, what is it about myself that attracts strange people (I could write a blog post about some of those weirdos)? Is there something I could do better to prevent myself from being a victim, or in the least, from being hurt?
Why You Gotta Be So Mean?
In my family, we’ve dealt with bullying more than I’d like to admit. So when I came across some articles on the subject, I was immediately intrigued by what kinds of people bully and what kinds are the victims.
In one study on bullying, the author, Michelle Harris discovered that those who were really good at self-care and self-kindness were often not victims of bullying, nor were they capable of bullying others. I found this remarkable.
Self-compassion is defined as having a high level of self-kindness, mindfulness and both a lesser emphasis on judgment and a feeling that one is part of a “common humanity,” Harris said.
This is key, particularly for those who would like to counter bullying behaviors or help victims to avoid internalizing their abuse as something they either deserve or brought upon themselves.
Another remarkable finding was that being an introvert or extrovert didn’t make much of a difference:
Among her most telling findings, Harris said that while bullies are assumed and victims might be assumed to have higher levels of extraversion, neither did.
“I did not expect the extraversion finding,” said Harris, a UA Honors College student slated to graduate in May. “It should have been statistically significant at least in bullies, but I found no significance whatsoever.”
Traits That May Attract the Wrong People
While bullying and sociopath personalities are not one-in-the same, I was curious about the types of people who become their victims. According to the Sociopathic Style Website, there are certain traits that seem common in victims of a sociopath:
- A belief that if you love enough the person will change
- A belief that if you love enough the relationship will succeed
- Difficulty establishing and maintaining boundaries
- Unable to say no
- Being easily influenced by others
- Wanting to be rescued from your life situation
- Wanting to rescue others from their distress
- Being over-nurturing, particularly when not asked
- Feelings of shame and self-doubt
- Low self-esteem
- A lack of memories about childhood or periods of adulthood
- Difficulty communicating
- A lack of self-confidence
- Wanting to please
- A lack of motivation from within and being motivated by what others want
Fences Make Good Neighbors
The main theme I kept seeing is that these people lack the necessary boundaries for a healthy relationship. I would never suggest they put their own lives in danger. We could all pull traits from these lists and be guilty. But, it is worth thinking about because self-care truly can save our lives. Not just as a tool in the arsenal of suicide prevention, but in other ways too. If we prioritize self-care in our lives, we are less likely to be in a relationship with an unhealthy person and less likely to become a victim.
Some things we can’t prevent. Bullying at school or having to deal with a narcissistic personality at work might not be so easy to avoid. But, we can show ourselves that we are loved and supported by learning and practicing self-care skills.
Self-Care Should Be a Priority
As a person who tends to be overly friendly and fears criticism, I found this information helpful. I related it to my own journey of self-care and self-compassion. It reminds me that I need to be forever diligent in taking care of myself. It requires loving who I am and learning how to be a friend to myself even when others aren’t. If anything, I realize the importance, even more so, of self-care and am encouraged to keep it as a daily habit.