QUOTES & WISDOM
TOP OF THE MIND
QUOTES & WISDOMfrom the Top of the Mind
QUOTES & WISDOM
Top of the Mind
Nancy Perovic, RN, BSN
University Of Chicago Hospitals, Chicago, IL
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For people whose job or passion it is to help or take care of others, have you noticed how hard it is for them to take care of themselves? Why is this? It’s not that we think that “self-care” isn’t a good idea. There are books written on the subject, and trainings devoted to helping people take better care of themselves. In fact, if you google “self-care,” you get two hundred and forty million hits! However, what most people will tell you is that a part of them equates self-care with being selfish, and almost everyone agrees that this is something to be avoided at all costs.
Of course, we weren’t born thinking this way. However, most of us can remember being taught at an early age that taking care of one’s self before you take care of others is selfish. In fact, some people believe that “selfless” is the best choice if you want to be successful in life, especially in terms of how we relate to others. I suggest, however, that successful relationships are not created by being either selfish or selfless, but in learning how to care for ourselves so that we can bring our best to our interactions with others and life.
This concept is captured wonderfully by this week’s quote from Eleanor Brown that says, “You can’t serve from an empty vessel.” In other words, when we are empty, drained, and depleted, the quality of our giving is compromised. On the other hand, when we come from a fulfilled perspective, we have access to all of our energy and talents, and this maximizes the potential of interacting with others in a way that is a gift to all concerned.
Of course, to do this, we must consult the expert on what we need to bring our best to life, and that is us. Unfortunately, many of us will wait until others recognize our needs and give us permission to take care of ourselves before we take any action, and, even then, we only allow ourselves the absolute minimum “time off” before we are back “on the job.” It’s almost like we have to wait until we are incapable of serving others before we feel that we have the right to take care of ourselves.
I suggest a different tact. I suggest we recognize that we are the person who is in the best position to know what we need, and that when we take responsibility for meeting those needs, we can then be a true gift to all concerned. In other words, rather than seeing ourselves as a bottle of water representing our life energy, and giving some amount of water over here…and over here…and over here, until we are drained, depleted, and empty… I suggest that we see our life energy as coming from a wellspring deep inside of us. Because this is coming from within us, we are the only one who knows where this wellspring is, and it is our responsibility to keep it clean and free-flowing. When we do, it fills us up first, and then spills over to those around us. They still get our love and attention, they just get it from a “fulfilled” person.
If this makes sense to you, I suggest that you begin to practice this art. You might let those around you know that you are going to take more responsibility for taking care of yourself so that they don’t have to guess what you need to be at your best. The key here is perspective. Notice how you would encourage someone that you love to take care of themselves if they were in your situation, and be gentle with yourself as you learn this new skill.
Basically, you are using love as your driving energy. Love of who you are…what you do…who you do it for, and who you do it with… not the fear of being selfish or the need to be selfless. When we do this in a way where love is our guide, in a way that we would teach to someone we love, the quality of our living and the quality of our giving goes up, and our self-care becomes a gift to all concerned.
~ All the best, Dr. Bill