You need to take care of yourself first before you can take care of anyone else. I tell my mindfulness students this all the time, and all the time I get students who protest. ‘Egotistic’, a 64-year-old participant said not so long ago.
Becauase it’s mostly women I’m telling this, and mostly women who protest. ‘I’m fine, I needn’t pamper myself, others have it much worse than me.’
But that’s not the point.
To get to the point: if you know you are going to be on your laptop all night because you need to work, you are going to make sure the battery is fully loaded, and that you’ve got your charger and electricity at hand for the last few hours. If not, your screen will black out at some point, and you can just forget about your work night. Computers don’t overrun their battery time.
Empty is empty.
But many women do, and with some degree of success too. It’s what you’re supposed to do: put others first, be self-effacing, like a good girl. I know, because it echoes my own childhood and family culture. Give up your seat for aunty, take the smallest piece, wait until everyone else has been served, don’t complain when you’re in pain – no, please, go ahead, don’t worry about me, I’m fine, really!
The misconception is that selfcare comes at the expense of another. Nonsense, for sure. Wear yourself out, and you’re no use to anyone at some point. No use whatsoever.
But I know: when you’re so busy taking care of others, there’s simply no time to pamper yourself. A day at a spa, a Sunday on the sofa reading a book – when, for heaven’s sake? When we think we’re in a time crunch, we cancel all the fun and relaxation anyway. Those beliefs (no time, I have to, I can’t) reside in our contracted mind in survival mode and it’s not easy to persuade us out of them.
Is this you? Then it’ won’t be easy to get you to stay on your couch for a whole day. But there is something you can do: spend a minute on your couch. Just one minute. It’s o.k. if it’s someone else’s couch, or the loo. Close your eyes and observe your breath. Breathe in and out quietly, three times. Ask yourself: how am I? Don’t answer the question, just observe, feel your body, your emotions, your temperature, your thoughts. Give yourself a mindful minute every now and then, listen to the wisdom of your body. What do I need right now? Who knows, a minute might become a day, some time.
p.s. I have a 3-minute meditation, ‘Breathing Space’, that will help you take a mindful moment. If you subscribe to my free newsletter, it’s yours to download and use whenever you need it.