It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Put YOURSELF first to be selfLESS? Such a contradiction, right? I mean, it goes against everything that we’ve been taught.
How HORRIBLE of you to think of yourself first! Do you realize how much more helpful you could be if you devoted more time to others? Instead of taking that run, or working on that project, you could be helping others in greater need than yourself.
I got fired up about this yesterday as I was listening to my brother-in-law’s interview down in Tampa about Caregiving (he’s written a book about it, and even has a great website; I’ve placed the promo video at the end of this post for you to get a better idea of the power of love that he shares with my sister). Well into the interview, the radio host asks him to talk about some caregiver tips (he’s got 70 great ones in the book), and the tip he shares is that caregivers have to take care of themselves. He then goes one step further and says that, even before the caregiver takes care of the patient, s/he has to take care of him/herself FIRST.
First! I couldn’t believe he said that on the radio, as the sole purpose of caregiving was to be there for the patient, first and foremost.
But after thinking about it for a few hours, it started to really make sense to me. How in the world can I take care of another individual, if I don’t first take care of myself? In the end, is it worth it if the caregiver falls ill from such personal neglect? ONE- where does that help the patient? and TWO- nobody asked you to sacrifice your life for that person.
I’m just 10 days away from my next 5K, and when I went on my run today (after not running for a few days), I realized how out of sync I had become in those days that I did not run. I neglected myself, and my mood dipped, I couldn’t be there for my kids like I had been just a week ago, and I started feeling less confident, insecure, and self-doubting about a lot of issues. Talk about HORRIBLE!
One run, though — one hour to take care of myself — and everything is rebooted. I feel great, my social interactions with my family have improved immediately, and I’m looking forward to working harder on a few projects that I’m in the middle of creating.
Why did I not run those last few days?
It’s a contagious, flesh-eating monster, I tell you. For all of you Little Shop Of Horrors fans out there, it was feeding Audrey II, and the more I did NOT take care of myself, the happier and bigger that monster got. The negativity, the diminishing effort to accomplish my goals, the stronger desire to eat more, work less…. Yeah, Audrey II was being fed a bunch of soul-sucking trash that was making me feel absolutely worthless.
The reason why I didn’t run is because I had “other things to do” that were creative in nature. I rationalized and said that this was BALANCE, this was feeding the muse, this was satisfying both the spiritual and the physical.
My daughter scoops less manure when mucking the stalls every weekend when she is at the farm.
Bottom line: If your workload is too much that you can’t take time out for yourself, then your workload is too heavy, and you got to cut something out. Simple as that. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is more important to you than keeping in shape, taking good care of yourself, and staying on top of YOUR game, whatever that game might be.
Then, and only then, can you truly be selfless for others. Only then can you be there when they need you, and in ways that don’t make you feel like you are sacrificing your life for theirs. It’s not about that folks. Never was, and never will be.
This is YOUR life. Love it. Live it. Give it.
Ok– Here’s the video promoting my brother-in-law’s book. It’s bigger than that, though. You’ll see. Music is by the wonderfully talented Pattie Lin. Pattie, you are the best.