You know you are authentic when . . . you put your needs before those of others!
Do you know that the heart first pumps oxygenated blood to its self before pumping it throughout the rest of the body? What a perfect example of how we should take care of ourselves!
Self-care honors the truth of our being. It is not about accountability and blame, but about owning our lives. We are expressions of the Divine and deserve to be pampered with all the loving care that the universe offers. To do anything less would discredit our very nature and make us ineffective in fulfilling our many roles and responsibilities.
A commitment to self-care is not a sign of selfishness. When we deny our own needs, we become depleted and our innate abilities are diminished. In fact, the better we take care of ourselves the more we can live optimally and serve others. With ourselves as our very first priority, we ensure that we have enough energy to share.
When we take excellent care of ourselves our cup overflows. Instead of serving others from our own cup, we nourish them from the extra supply in the saucer. Once we tap into the abundant resources that are readily available to us, there is ample left over to give of our time and talents to others at home, in the workplace and in the community.
I recently took a much-needed rest after two years of intense writing, speaking and performing. Although I knew this period of recovery was necessary for me to regroup and tackle a new project, I still felt guilty. I used to believe I was not doing justice to my higher purpose unless I continuously functioned at peak performance.
A dear friend confirmed that I truly deserved this break with a lovely card. It reads, “Take Care of Yourself! There’s a time for helping and giving, and there’s a time for slowing down and pulling back. This is your time to take good care of yourself and to remind yourself how special you are.” What a perfect reminder that my first responsibility is to myself. This card sits on my desk where I am less likely to forget these words of wisdom!
When we fail to take good care of ourselves we not only ignore our own needs, but also send a negative message to others. Based on our actions they may make assumptions about how we prefer to be treated. We may receive less compassion and consideration than we want or deserve. Our poor example may also cause them ignore their own needs.
Excellence in self-care is easier said than done. This is especially true for parents and caregivers who are responsible for dependents 24/7. Statistics show that over 29 percent of adults are caring for children under eighteen at home and twelve percent of these individuals are also caring for a parent. Nearly 68 percent of women are caregivers and over 2.7 million grandparents are raising their grandchildren. These facts reveal how challenging it may be to take good care of ourselves.
Although it may be difficult to squeeze in a few moments dedicated solely to ourselves, it is critical if we are to thrive and fulfill our many responsibilities. When we fail to add time for ourselves into our busy schedule, we will never recuperate from our many duties. I am learning this first hand as my elderly mother is living with my husband and me for six months each year. She is no longer able to live alone, so my older sister and I share in her care. Although she is still quite self-sufficient, my schedule has become more congested with trips to doctors and physical therapy, and extra laundry and cooking. We also walk every day and attend some basic exercise classes together.
I truly view my time with Mother as a blessing. We have become very close for the first time as I left home for college at seventeen and never moved back home. Although she tries to be helpful and is most grateful for our care, the extra responsibilities mean I have less free time to do as I wish and to care for myself.
Out of necessity, I have become proficient in delegating. My first question when something needs to be done is, “Who beside me can do this?” When I find the individual who can help, I use a little humor and say, “I’m going to let you…” or “I’m going to take you up on your offer to help with…”
I have also changed my thinking about the items on my “Need To Do” and “Nice To Do” lists. More items have shifted from being necessary to optional. I am less compulsive about everything being done perfectly and by unrealistic deadlines. This further frees up my time to do what I need to do for me! It also gives me a little more time to focus on my lifework with the Blueprint.
What a blessing to know that we do not have to go without. We do not have to come last! Only when we fulfill our primary responsibility and are true to ourselves will we be able to embrace and express the true essence of our being. By caring for ourselves in a manner that we deserve to be treated, we will be more authentic and reach our highest potential.