I read a wonderful blog this morning on self-care, and it got me to thinking. Why as a society have we placed such a taboo on the idea of being selfish, or self invested? Why does that idea have such an incredibly negative connotation?
A friend of mine works incredibly hard, incredibly long hours. She is a single mum of two great kids, who have lots of after school activities and sporting events, which she always attends. She is a good person, who is super nice to everyone. And the poor thing is just exhausted. I told her yesterday that she needs to take care of herself, or there will be no-one left to take care of her children. Sometimes being selfish is not only OK... It's a necessity.
My hubby is the same. Everyone else's needs come first. To him, this is noble. This is selfless. This is how he was raised (in America’s bible belt). To me this is nuts!
Maybe because I have been living with lifelong health issues, I have learned that I need to be a little selfish in order to just survive. Or maybe it's because everything in my own spiritual journey tells me that taking care of my own needs, and looking after myself, and tending to my goals and aspirations, and putting myself first occasionally is just fine. I have learned that you cannot possibly give away what you don’t have. When your own tanks are empty, you have nothing left for anyone else.
take time to eat right
That doesn't mean that you don’t do things for others. I do lots of things for other people. Sometimes donating hours and hours of my time to help another. But I am honest enough to admit, that I do this for purely selfish reasons. I do it because it feels good. I love to know that someone else has benefited from my efforts. I get the warm and fuzzies when someone thanks me for my work. I get such a kick when I see someone smile, knowing that I am the reason behind their joy. Nothing beats that feeling. And when they don’t even know that it was me who has assisted them… even better.
spend time in nature
And I take care of myself. I meditate. I nap sometimes. I soak in a bubble bath often. I treat myself. I feed my passions. I follow my dreams. I nourish my soul. I learn. I strive. I do all this for me.... and me alone. Because if I am not at my best, I am no use to anyone else. It is not nobel to sacrifice. It is not honourable to never be able to say "no". Putting everyone else's needs above your own is not benevolent.... it's irresponsible. You were divinely gifted this life, this body... and the truly altruistic thing to do is to love and nurture and care for it, so that it may be put to it's highest and best purpose.... not out of some false sense of obligation.... but out of a true sense of purpose, and of love.
My elderly mum used to say..if you don't look after yourself noone else will. That didn't used to 'sit well with me' but I have learn't the hard way..that saying NO to things I really don't want to do, has empowered me amongst other things..and learnt that she was absolutly right..that when the 'chips are Really Down' it only you. Don't feel guilty saying NO to people for what ever reason. You can get more respect from others (not that that matters for me now) but I have learnt that the first person I need to respect is ME
I reallly like this article Tracie, and I think it takes a lot of courage to stand up and say you believe in taking care of your own needs. Our society is so against it. I completely agree with you and maybe it is also in part the getting of wisdom as we get older but you are spot on. Being noble is just being a martyr and how is that going to help anybody if you are mierable, sick, exhausted or wracked with anxiety or depression.
You can only trtuly help others to the best of your ability if you are looking after yourself. Like they tell you in an airline emergency, please look after your own oxygen mask before helping your children. After all you can't help them if you've stopped breathing!