Give, give, give … is there anything left for yourself?

Hello my fellow human Beings:

Perhaps you can relate to this scenario as recorded in Cheryl Richardson’s book, The Art of Extreme Self-Care:

“[W]hen faced with a crisis [, unexpected life challenge, or a series of stressful, multiple demands] I had reverted back to my old coping habits.  I’d fly solo, often encountering turbulence, but always steering toward familiar territory: a place where I automatically focused on others’ needs, avoiding talking about myself, and was the first to lend a hand when someone else needed a lift.  But now I was tired – exhausted, really – and fed up with being a martyr.  It was time to do something about it.”

Have you found yourself being pulled by multiple demands from family and friends?  Or work and family?

  • Perhaps you are a working parent, trying to do your busy day job well and take care of the family and tend to their needs, including all the kids’ extra-curricular activities;
  • maybe you find yourself in the sandwich generation, those taking care of their own children as well as their elderly parents; or
  • possibly you are dealing with multiple deadlines at work and trying to give emotional and personal care to a sick loved one.

Whatever busy situation you may find yourself in – where you feel your plate is overflowing and you are being pulled in numerous directions with cries all around you echoing “Give me this” and “Give me that” – you can relate to the above scenario of feeling like a martyr.

You may think that giving all of yourself to all those who ask for your help is the best way to help others.  However, when you give, give, give and there is nothing left for yourself, you aren’t doing yourself or your loved ones a just service.

You may retort, “I’m not being a good parent, a good child, etc. if I don’t help all my loved ones in need when they need it.  I’d feel guilty for not being there for them.”

But what if the YOU that was there for them felt exhausted, frustrated, burdened or resentful?  Is that really the best loving care you can show your loved ones?

When you start feeling this way (or even before it gets to this stage), take some time to pause, be still, reflect and observe what is going on inside you.

Life coach and best-selling author, Cheryl Richardson, in her book, The Art of Extreme Self-Care, advises us to ask ourselves the following questions:

“Where do I feel deprived?

What do I need more of right now?

What do I need less of?

 … Awareness is a powerful catalyst for positive change.

 …[Overgiving] is often a sign of deprivation – a signal that a need isn’t being met, an emotion is being expressed, or a void isn’t getting filled.”

It is not selfish to make time to take care of your own needs.  You are just as important as all the loved ones you are taking care of and you deserve to give yourself the respect, love and kindness that you so generously give others.

It is the reason why in loving-kindness meditation practice we always start with offering the love and compassion to ourselves, providing ourselves with the healing touch we need and deserve, and then, strengthened, we offer our abundant love and compassion to others.

We are not alone in this self-care practice.  Jesus took time to be alone and pray and the Buddha took time to sit in meditation.  By doing things to reenergize themselves on their own time, they were then empowered to go out and help others. (It’s all part of the Golden Rule that is conveyed in so many faith traditions.  “Love one another AS YOU LOVE yourself” (as stated in Christianity), which is premised on the fact that you first love yourself!)

So this week, I invite you all to find the time to PAUSE, be still and reflect on what you need more of and less of, and then find ways to truly love yourself and give yourself some tender-loving-care.  It will help you live more abundantly and you will BE more authentically and truly YOURSELF when you are with the other important people in your life.  It’s a win-win scenario all around!

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