(Image via: Jen Lemen.)
For the first 20-something years of my life, i confused self-care with selfishness.
I had always felt such a deep need to be of service to people. Being an empath, i have always felt the pain of others as strongly as if it were my own, & in my deep desire to see people freed from that pain, i took on the role of counsellor, nurse, or whatever else that was needed of me to see them through their struggle. And while empathy & compassion are beautiful gifts, & caring for others a noble action, i found myself feeling drained – both physically & mentally. In my taking care of others, i was neglecting to take care of myself.
I was emotionally exhausted, & overwhelmed – i wanted to continue helping people, but i was simply too tired. I had “burnt myself out”. And while it made sense to take some time out to “recharge my batteries”, the thought of doing so was incredibly challenging for me to follow through with. When i thought about taking some time out for myself, i felt guilty, & i think this is true for many of us.
Do any of these beliefs ring true for you?
- Putting my owns needs first is selfish
- I can’t say no when someone asks me for help
- People won’t like me unless i am self-sacrificing
- I don’t deserve a sleep-in/massage/nice meal/nice clothes/etc
- I don’t like spending money on myself
- I should be helping others
(Image via: We ♥ it.)
The truth is, there is a big difference between being self-loving & being self-centred. A self-centred person is someone who is focused on their owns needs at all times, & is often oblivious or simply disinterested in the needs of others. They expect others to care for them & fulfil their needs, without ever returning the favour. They use other people for their own benefit, & often lack deep & meaningful relationships.
A self-loving person on the other hand, is not oblivious to the needs of others, but rather, recognises that without attending to their own needs first, they will be unable to attend to the needs of others. A self-loving person shows compassion not only to others, but also to themselves, & takes the time to listen to their needs, & attend to them with nourishment & a loving care.
(Image via: We ♥ it.)
Once i had “burnt out”, i was no real use to anyone – i had used up all of my energies, & had nothing left to give, either to others, or to myself. As Leslie Lobell says at The Art Of Loving; “You cannot keep giving to others if you do not give to yourself, first. It is like pouring water from a vessel: you cannot pour and pour without ever refilling it – eventually, it will run dry. Like that vessel, we, too, need to refill, recharge, and re-energize. We need to replenish ourselves, by loving and giving to ourselves.” And, so i began to “fill myself up”.
Now self-care is very much a part of my everyday life. Of course i have days where i overwork myself, where i take on too much, or give too much of my energy away to others, leaving little for myself. Of course there are still days where i feel tired, overwhelmed, or emotionally drained, but it is in these moments that i am reminded to stop, take a breath, & listen to what my body & my mind needs from me to recharge.
(Image via: ABC creativity)
So here is my challenge to you –
Day 1 – Self-Care:
Stop everything. Do not try to multi-task. Give yourself this moment to truly focus on YOU.
- Get comfy.
Find somewhere quiet. Get comfy, & take a deep breath. Clear your mind.
What do i need right now?
What is my body telling me it needs?
What is my heart & soul asking me for?
Put aside your “should”s, put aside your “need to”s – let those thoughts float by as if on a cloud. Listen to your intuition – what is the true answer to your questions?
If your body said it needed a cat-nap, go to sleep. Do not wait until you have finished what you “should” be doing – you’re body needs it’s rest now.
If your mind told you it needed stimulation, make time for yourself now, to read that book, finish that jigsaw puzzle, or engage in that friendly debate.
If your soul asked you for connection, call that friend for a chat, or go out & meet with them.
Whatever your body & soul have asked from you in this moment, nourish them by fulfilling their request.
Be sure to pop on over to lifeinfullcolour’s Facebook page today, where our theme of Self-Care will be permeating my posts. And please feel free to share with me there, or here on the blog how you have found today’s Self-Care Challenge – i’d love to hear about your experiences! 🙂