Courtney Geter, LMFT, CST
Sex and Relationship Therapist

Stop Putting Yourself Last! How Creating Space Shows Self-Worth

If there is one thing I know I’m good at doing, it’s creating space for myself! One day, during a water cooler break, my colleague Dr. KS exclaims, “I talked about you in a session today!”

“Ooooh? Really?” I asked for more information, a little apprehensive and curious at the same time.

Dr. KS replies, “Your cupboard in the kitchen!”

Wait…what? Of all things that could be said about me, I never thought my fame would come from a shelf in an office kitchen!

The Cupboard in the Kitchen

Stop Putting Yourself Last! How Creating Space Shows Self-Worth‘My cupboard in the kitchen’ is one shelf where I keep kitchen items like tea, honey, and snacks. Since I spend a good bit of time at my office, I like to feel at home, or at least “homey,” while I’m there. Besides, having snack and regular eating keeps me from getting hangry and being quite unbearable to be around, for coworkers and clients. Having snack items also prevents me from unhealthy eating habits like eating dinner too fast because my brain and stomach are starved! Forgot your snacks or lunch at home? No problem! My cupboard snacks have you covered. And trust me, a few colleagues have taken advantage of this!

“Why not keep them in your office?” you ask. My office is on the exact opposite side of the kitchen. Therefore, I must get up and walk to get my snack. Two benefits here. First, I’m getting daily steps. Second, I have to really think about whether it’s hunger or emotional eating that’s making me want a snack. (Yes, I have a strategy to most things in life.)

Making Yourself Space and Self-Worth

So, now that you have the details on one of my office neurose, Dr. KS went on to explain that she told her client about how I take care of my needs. She also said that she sees my creating space as honoring my own self-worth. Many people develop a sense that they are ‘in the way’ or ‘not worthy,’ especially at work, where it’s easy to feel lost in the shuffle. As a result, they may not provide for their own needs, or make their needs known to others. Creating space for myself shows I am able to state my needs and create that space needed for me to feel happy and secure—and in a case like this, it communicates to my coworkers that this personal space is important to me. Honestly, I never even saw it that way until she brought it up! (Thanks Dr. KS!) Space allows me to feel more comfortable and less anxious at work. And if I feel and know I’m taken care of then there is no reason to be anxious or go down that spiral of self-destructive thoughts and worry on being able to eat or go out and get lunch. I’ve got myself covered!

I thought about this more and realized that I create space in other areas, too! As a passenger on a long car ride or airplane travel, I tend to make a bag of possible needs, like a water, a book or activity, snacks, and even a few toiletries. When I stay in a new place, I also tend to create space by unpacking and putting items where I might need them or where they would be at home. In my own office environment, I invite clients to feel comfortable and I model this for them. As most of my clients know, if you need to eat while in session, then pull out that snack bar or lunch and eat while we talk. Clients will even take their shoes off and get comfy on the couch. This is all fine—and encouraged!—by me!

How do you create yourself space? What do you notice different about you when you take care of your needs? Would love to hear your own stories!

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