Fasten Your Seat Belts
If we’re always busy fastening the seat belts of others, it’s easy to forget to put on our own belts before the turbulence of life begins. When life takes off, we end up just holding on tight, enduring the bumpy ride, and hoping we don’t get too banged up before we’re smooth sailing again.
Neglecting ourselves is rarely the intention, but something in us tricks us into believing other people’s needs are more essential than our own. It certainly feels fulfilling knowing that we’ve helped someone in need. And when we and everyone else around us see us as the “caregiver” our identity becomes entrenched in that role. It’s uncomfortable for us to reverse it to become the “care receiver” even when we’re the ones giving care to ourselves. Yet growth and healing are often preceded by that kind of discomfort.
When we delve further in, there is also an element of distraction caring for others provides. It gives us an excuse to avoid our own self-work by getting to point outward and say, “I would do this thing for myself, but ____ needs me.”
Our needs are just as important as any other beings in the world. What’s more, it’s no one’s responsibility more than our own to make sure we’re getting what we need. And by modeling self-care, we are influencing our loved ones around us to do the same.
That nurturer archetype that so many of us embody is one of the most vital forces on the planet. We don’t survive without someone looking out for us, especially when we’re small and weak. But as we age, we need to learn how to care for ourselves without feeling guilty for being self-focused.
I get twinges of guilt when I decline invitations to social events. And feel even worse when I have to decline requests for help. But providing the quality of care I seek to give requires me to take care of me along the way. I used to give and give until I was so drained that my freely giving self started to become resentful, irritated, and physically ill. None of us should feel like we have to give of ourselves out of obligation or guilt. That kind of care is sour and creates dis-ease in our bodies and relationships.
Energy in these human bodies is finite. That means we need to rest. We need nutritious food and time to prepare it. We need to move, stretch, and breathe. We need to play in nature and with our friends. We need to create and explore. And we need a few special someones to care for us too from time to time.
As much as we caregivers love to be helpful. As much as we get off on loving others. As much as we love to be loved and seen as someone who cares— none of that can sustain us without turning that love light back on ourselves.
So for the love of all— please fasten your seatbelts and secure all your baggage underneath your seat or in your overhead compartments. Thank you for choosing you. Enjoy your ride.
If you’d like to learn practical tips and tricks for putting self-care into practice and unpacking your own baggage, please schedule a FREE initial consultation with me today! I’d be honored to be of service.