Nurturing Yourself Part 2

Many of us received little or no nurturing when we were very young. You may even have a hard time conceiving of the idea. But learning to take care of youself is at the core of healing…

Even if you don’t do much to take care of yourself right now, you started out trying to comfort yourself when you were a child. Although you may have done things that had hurtful aspects, you did find ways to make yourself feel better. Some of those ways may still be helpful to you today.

From The Courage to Heal Workbook.

The three parts of this chapter that I will focus on  are: how did I nurture myself as a child, ask others how they nurture themselves, and using the above answers start compiling a list of things I want to do to nurture myself now.

How did I nurture myself as a child:

I used to take a leaf off a tree and hold it.

Pick dandelions and hold them.

I used to collect rocks.

I had a doll.

I would swing and spin.

I would go for walks, especially going barefoot and walking on grass.

I would read.

I would sing to myself.

I would make up little silly songs.

I would eat food outside.

I would watch catepillars and later in the season butterflies; and fireflies late at night.

I would look at big books about animals with lots of pictures.

I would jump rope.

I would stare at the stars at night.

I would ride a bike.

Go swimming.

I would play with my brothers.

I would daydream.

I would listen to music; especially 1960s rock and roll, rhythm and blues, blues, and classical music.


So what did you do as a young child to nurture yourself?

13 thoughts on “Nurturing Yourself Part 2

  1. I would sneak food into my room and eat in secret.

    I would retreat and play in my doll house where the mummy and the daddy were nice people with happy children.

    I would hide in the trees and pretend I lived on a big farm with lots of horses, far away from my suburban reality.

    And I would retreat into my books, even from a young age.


    • Hi Kerro,

      I liked to eat food away from my family as well. When I was a teenager I would go into the fridge after the evening meal and eat a piece of fruit because I was never allowed to eat until I was full at the family table.

      When I played house or played with just my dolls I always imagined a good family. I know I didn’t have any examples, but I still managed a good family in my imagination.

      Trees, horses, and books… yeah I loved them all too.

      Good and healing thoughts to you.



  2. This is why I am so glad I have found some of these sites. I have been working through Courage to Heal and I come to questions like this and can’t think of much. Your post – and others – help to spark those memories in me. Thank you for that. I think I am working too quickly through the books, just trying to GET DONE. Because, of course, after I finish I will be healed.

    Anyway, my list would include –

    Reading (any chance I got to escape to those worlds or to read about someone worse off than me)

    Spending time at the library – one nice thing my mother would do is take me to the library on the weekend and drop me off. I could spend hours in that quiet place.

    Daydream – definitely

    Picking the spent dandelions and blowing them.

    Sitting under the weeping willow tree in the back yard.



    • Hi OLJ,

      I think that your plan for reading the book is what most survivors plan for.

      I like your list. It reminds me a lot of myself.

      I used to do that with dandelions as well. And pussy willows. Did you have those growing near water where you lived? I still love seeing those.



  3. Hi Kate,

    This is a very sweet post 🙂
    (although I’m not a fan of A Courage to Heal.. perhaps its just too much/too early for me?)

    I read – a lot, and sought out anywhere I could be alone.

    I don”t remember imagining or creating a “good” family. Mine were always perfectly behaved to the outside world so one assumed that that was what one had.

    I often dreamt of the parents breaking up and my getting to go away somewhere and be left alone by everyone. I guess that was my equivalent of a good family – just a family of one.

    How very tragic!

    Its sounds so good and positive that you can list all these things – well done – and its very encouraging so thanks! 🙂


    • Hi,

      I did that too, too fast, but for me it worked good. The first time I read the book. Each time I read it I go slower. I did the exercises in the first section only the first time I read it. Now when I re-read Courage I tend to start in the second section on self-esteem, body, all the self-care and self-skills issues. Then do the third section and finish the book and then do the first section last. Otherwise I start out all triggered and end up not retaining a lot of good work.

      I have done the first two chapters in the workbook. It was very triggering and sad for me. I don’t think it helps for me to do exercises in a book by rote. It just doesn’t seem to help and often brings up things that make them worse. Sometimes one, two or three questions at a time is more than enough for me. So that is why I picked out only a few to work on out of the whole chapter. But the other questions in the chapter can help someone who doesn’t look at these issues to ask themselves what they think and feel on the topic. For me, that reflective stuff, is what gets in the way of actually doing something that is nurturing and comforting. So for someone who needs to look back on how they felt, how they feel about nurturing, then that the chapter would probably be good for them. I know all that stuff already, have talking, written, shared, and felt about it a lot and none of it is good.

      I saw other people and families and they were very different than mine. I think that the example I had was my own heart and soul and that in third grade I had a kind teacher. I still remember her sweet, soft voice. In my play family all the people loved one another, spoke kindly and did things for one another. Nothing like my family. I don’t know how I knew what a good mother was, but I just pretended and I think I got it right.

      But what did you do that was sensory to nurture yourself? Did you have a favorite outfit, dress, song, game, food, anything that made you feel loved and cared about?

      Good and healing thoughts to you.



  4. Kate,
    I wanted you to know that I am ready to think about the things you have been writing about. I am so glad this is what you are thinking about right now. I really need to face this. I will be back. I have to go to therapy right now.
    Thanks for being here.



  5. Pingback: Self care in childhood « Petrogenic

  6. I remember walking outside alone a lot when I was around 7 years old because I knew that outside alone was safe. Once I learned to read, which I was a little slow at in the beginning, gave me a safe world that I could travel in and get lost in for a short time. Going to school every day was an escape from home that I loved. I was surrounded by books and by teachers who seemed to like me.


    • Hi Patricia,

      That was my experience as well. I was so lucky and happy with books and school and teachers and nature. They were safe.

      Thanks for sharing. Good and healing thoughts to you.



  7. What a great list. Thank you for sharing it. It is so perfect for the self-care blog carnival edition.

    When I grew up in the abusive house of horrors I had to exist in, comfort was basically just not allowed. I found some ways to do it that would not be easily noticed. I remember, one of my most often-used nurturing/comforting devices was simply wadding up a piece of kleenex and holding it tight in my hand. I still find this amazingly comforting.


    • Hi Marj,

      Something that I did do, that I wouldn’t consider doing now, was sucking on my tshirt. I used to take the hem of my tshirt and lift it up and suck on the bottom of my tshirt. My mother used to get irate over it saying I was making my shirt wet. I used to have so much terror and anxiety that anything I could do to bring a little comfort into my life when at home.

      Good and healing thoughts to you.



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