My last post on self-care a few months ago brought up some apparent concerns and questions from people, so it seemed a good idea to post a continuation of this topic.
I was asked where is the place to draw the line between when it is appropriate to take care of yourself and when to put yourself aside for the sake of others, especially when wanting to live out a life of love and self-giving. Admittedly, the topic isn’t always cut and dry. There are circumstances that come up that make it difficult to draw the line. For example, when someone you love is suffering mentally or physically and needs extra care or attention from you. Or when you’re the only one available to run the kids to their classes or activities. There are responsibilities and duties, yes, and sometimes you can’t just say, “Oh, you need to get to class and Dad’s not here to drive you? Well, sorry, I’m having a time-out right now, so you’ll need to find a ride.”
What we’re talking about here is balance in life, not a life where no one can ever impose on your time. Self-care isn’t just about time to yourself. It’s about putting yourself into the picture of people you care about. It’s doing things that keep you balanced so that you have more, not less, of yourself to give, and that the you that you are giving is coming from a place of joyful giving rather than resentful giving that leaves you sputtering under your breath in frustration and anger.
One of the most important steps in caring for yourself is setting healthy boundaries. This requires some self-reflection and self-awareness as well as a willingness to feel uncomfortable. If you don’t set healthy boundaries, you may find yourself resenting the people who you feel are trying to control you, and eventually you may find that you’re resenting yourself for not having the hutzpah to stand up to them.
How do you set healthy boundaries? Well, the first place to set them is with yourself. Admit that you have a problem with saying “no.” You can read my previous post on saying “no” here: https://artoflifeandwellness.wordpress.com/2015/04/08/no-is-not-a-four-letter-word/
You may be asking, “Okay, I get what it is, but how do I do it?” And my question to you is, “What can you begin doing today to nurture yourself the way you would a good friend?” Sometimes stepping outside of ourselves and imagining seeing someone we love in the same position helps us to realize what we need. It almost sounds too simple.
Begin small. How much time can you take out for yourself each day? Ten minutes? Thirty? Just five? Then start with five.
What kind of ritual can you set up for yourself? Where will you have this ritual? It doesn’t need to be the same place each day, but it can be. Some people need the consistency of a certain place or space. Some prefer variety. It’s up to you. You get to choose!
When will you take this time? Do you need it first thing in your day to get focused and centered and grounded? Or do you need it at the end of the day? Or both?
How will you make sure you take this time for yourself? Do you need to arrange it beforehand? Is it just an inner decision you need to make?
The main thing is: what can you do to care for yourself in such a way that, even when you can’t get out of certain duties you have, you are taking care of your own needs too so that you have the energy and the love fueling you to live from a place of groundedness.
No matter how it might appear, you always have choices.
I look forward to hearing from you of the steps you’ve taken and the results you’ve seen in your life. As always, if you need some help, just send me a message.
Wishing you peace and blessings,
* Paintings by Maxfield Parrish