WHEN SELF-CARE SEEMS LIKE A LUXURY YOU CAN'T AFFORD
Tending to self...the most beautifully selfish thing you’ll ever do. When the world (or your family) has an unending list of things for you to do, yet the child in you cries out in need, who do you tend to? Most of us learned a long time ago, to selflessly respond to what is asked of us. Sometimes we do this without a whimper. Sometimes we learn to do this while voicing a string of complaints, or while secretly sabotaging those tasks. Sometimes we grow to carry a ball of resentment for all that is asked of us. Rarely do we have the luxury of learning to give attention
to Self, who’s needs inconveniently interrupt the steady bombardment of the world’s to-do list.
A dear friend moved across country to help in the raising of her grandchildren. Once on site, she found the condition of things to be chaotic, under-funded, and dramatically conflictual...not the peaceful, cozy scene she had imagined. After two years of digging into helping mode, hoping for her presence to make some difference, and experiencing the unending cyclone pull of the chaos swirling around her, she began to say no...not right now...not like that. Her boundaries were pushed at and rejected...how dare she say no! Finally, in order to soothe and
care for the gentle child within herself, this committed Grandma made the painful choice to relocate back to her home state where she would begin to learn to offer her Gramma-ing in smaller doses. The child within needed her cries of distress to be heard and heeded. She deserved to be as valued as everyone else.
YOUR OWN NEEDS WILL SURFACE
What if anyone had ever allowed you...even encouraged you to slow down, to notice the voice of that child, to lovingly tend to that precious child, first...before tending to everything else? Most of us are conflicted by both a desire to be cooperative and helpful and a desire to do or want what we want. The more that we reject our own needs; push them to the bottom of the list, the more angry or resentful or overwhelmed our inner child becomes. That child does one of a few predictable things: shut down and become invisible; get sneaky or manipulative; or
lash out into dramatic bouts of selfishness. If only that child could learn to rely on being tended to, he would then be able to turn attention to a cooperative approach to others, without feeling abandonment.
LETTING CARE-OF-SELF SHOW THE WAY
By lovingly tending to your own needs, you model to others how to value self...giving them permission to do the same...not instead of helping others, but rather before helping others. They will learn to tolerate your saying “no”, or saying “not right now”, or saying “I’m not available for this but I could help with that”. It may take them awhile to gracefully accept your conditional availability...after all, you have taught them to expect immediate and unconditional “yes” from you! There will be some who will be outraged at your new approach. There may be
times when you swing the pendulum overly far toward self care, even into an obstinate selfishness...this can only be expected as you attempt to balance a swing that was (for a long time) far toward selflessness or self-abandonment. Trust yourself. You will discover a gentler swing. You will learn a beautiful rhythmic flow back and forth between self care and other care.
GIVE YOURSELF THE GIFT OF FEELING VALUED
It is time. Your inner child has waited for you for a long time. Prove to that child that you recognize her worth...that he deserves to be soothed and tended to by you...first and foremost by you. If gifting Self with time and attention in the face of unending outside pressures seems impossible to manage, reach out and ask for guidance. I would be honored to assist you in learning and practicing self-care. You deserve it!
Please remember that resources here are expanding. I am available for office sessions for you or your loved ones or colleagues for guidance through life’s challenges. Additionally I will be pleased to introduce you to the gentle, emotion-focused work that you can do with the horses. Reach out for some EAP. And now I will also happily invite those interested in exploring a more spirit-based approach to begin that journey with my new colleague, Dave who has joined my practice as an intern. We all stand ready to offer our care, guidance, and support as you face
this journey of self-discovery.