Julie Andrews, in her commencement address to the University of Colorado’s Class of 2013.
I wouldn’t exactly say that flu = adversity, however…I have been resigned to bed and/or the sofa for the last week. It’s been dull and inconvenient. I’ve been feeling rough. This is what I imagine man flu must feel like. The struggle is real.
But enough of the self-pity…this body-enforced down time, along with a couple of YouTube videos that a friend shared with me, has got me thinking (and learning) about why I’ve been hit hard by this virus.
In the two interviews linked below, Ana Forrest (yogini and founder/creator of Forrest Yoga), talks about how to use empathy in a healthy way rather than becoming overwhelmed and eventually burnt out.
If you are a caring, loving, empathic person (I know a lot of you are), then you probably think that it is OK to put other people’s needs above your own. So much of our society is geared towards strengthening this belief. Parents put their children’s needs before their own. Spouses/Partners think about how a decision would affect their ‘other half’ before they think about what is the right choice for them as an individual. Doing this makes you a good person. Really? I am not saying that we shouldn’t be considerate or care about how our behaviour impacts those around us. I am saying that if we constantly put other people’s feelings before our own then we are becoming, in Forrest’s blunt but brilliant words, a SACRIFICIAL WHORE. And, as I have found out, there is an inevitable S.T.I. that sacrificial whores contract…exhaustion.
So… in the absence of some Richard Gere figure to sweep us off our feet (à la ‘Pretty Woman’)…How do we stop whoring?!?!
The most important thing to remember is:
SELF CARE IS NOT SELFISH!
SELF CARE IS NOT SELFISH.
It just isn’t. It is loving, generous and ESSENTIAL. If you don’t take care of yourself, then you have nothing to share with those around you. So, I think, the first step is to start noticing when you are sacrificing caring for yourself in order to do something else. Become aware of that deficit and find a way of paying it back. For example: You stay up until 3am consoling a friend who is upset. Should you have told that friend to go away because you are tired and have a busy next day? Well…probably not. However, if you’ve sacrificed a heap of your energy, you need to remember to rebalance the books for yourself. Do something for you. Take a bath, yoga class, dance, sing, draw, run, nap, say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to that party invitation… whatever YOU want.
Have a look at the videos and let me know what you think. What are your self care tips?