Shortly before a plane takes off, one of the announcements is to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others with theirs, in an emergency. It is difficult to help others if we do not take care of ourselves, if we are “short of oxygen”.
I have experienced many times how constantly putting the needs of others first made me exhausted and much less helpful than if I took a better care of myself right from the beginning.
I used to be a volunteer in one organization and took on more and more tasks. I was struggling to cope with the workload from this function and with the rest of my life (a full-time job and organizing my wedding). I thought that I was serving a good cause by making myself available in an unlimited way for others who needed my help. I did burnout in such a way that I had to completely stop my volunteering activities in this organization for several years.
My inability to say “no” and to put myself first didn’t serve anyone. I felt exhausted and frustrated and the organization lost a volunteer. This and other similar experiences inspired me to shift significantly my perception of myself and start learning the art of self-care*.
Today, I know that it is difficult to give when my cup is only half full. That if I want to be able to give, I need to receive first. I give myself permission to put myself first. Not in a selfish way; simply when I am full of energy, happiness, joy and love, I am a much better wife, daughter, friend and coach. When my cup is overflowing, I have more than enough to give to others.
There is a saying that we can’t give what we do not have. When you truly care for yourself, you are able to care for others even more. Treat yourself as you would treat the most special guest. You deserve your own attention, love and kindness.
How can I take care of myself today?
What beliefs are blocking my ability to take care of myself?
In what ways are my family, friends and co-workers going to benefit if I nurture myself?
* Out of many books about self-care, I find the book “The Art of Extreme-Self Care” by Cheryl Richardson one of the most practical ones.