I am going to start off on the cliche side. I know, I know, boooo. And here it goes. You have all heard of the expression you can’t pour from an empty cup, right?
Or here is another favorite. You have to put your oxygen mask on first. Or… There are lots of them out there. But what does this really mean? We have all heard this golden wisdom. Have you ever taken the time to break it down and understand what it means? Most of us go, yea, yea that sounds great and wise, then go back to putting everyone and everyone else’s needs first. Then we crash and burn and get bitter when others don’t show up for us. Then we can get stuck in martyr. Does this sound familiar?
If it sounds like I am speaking from personal experience, it’s because I am. I was a fast-paced entrepreneur, and mother and always put other’s and others’ needs in front of my own. Then when I got diagnosed with Lyme disease and a couple of autoimmune issues, I wondered how long it would take for me to feel better so I could get back to the status quo. Unfortunately, it was that status quo that was keeping me sick. Women especially have been taught to be of service, agreeable, helpful, and easy-going. Faith, partner, kids, home, pets, kids’ hobbies, then maybe we get to think about ourselves. While this might seem like the way, this way is getting us and keeping us sick.
One of the biggest lessons I had to learn in my own health journey was to (dare I say it) put myself first. What happens to any relationship when you put it on the back burner? It doesn’t do well, does it? It takes our attention, energy, and effort to get better. Now I know how foreign this feels. I had to deal with all sorts of guilt, and worthiness issues in order to get better. Oh, and being a burden. That was a big one.
Every single time I put others’ needs in front of my own, especially for too long. I would get a flare-up and crash and burn. It was like my body saying “hey dummy, how many times do I have to tell you to take care of me before you get the hint??”
I finally got the hint and slowed down and started putting myself first. And guess what. I am healthy, happy, and able to show up for others in a way that was EVEN better than the way I was before (reactive, bitter, resentful, and in pain) How many of you can relate?
I know this is a foreign concept for some. And men experience this as well, I just think women are more at risk for this and might be part of the reason why women are at a higher risk for getting autoimmune diseases.
It is an act of love when we take care of ourselves, AND we get to lead by example for those around us. Missing my self-care is none negotiable in my schedule. I have had to say no to some things I wanted to do, and I have had to say no to my kid when it came to commitments I just couldn’t do. And yes, that slightly sucked, but what would suck more is when I was taken out for days or even weeks because I crashed and burned.
So please, during this busy time of year, I know it can feel like we are being pulled in all sorts of directions. Get calm and prioritize yourself. It might be foreign to your family at first, but if they truly want to see you get better, they will be happy that you did. And so will your mental and physical health.
Have a healthy day!