Like many people I find it more comfortable to prioritise taking care of other people over taking care of myself. Taking care of other’s, my husband, my children, my friends, is obviously a good thing to do. If they have a need, and I can fill it, why wouldn’t I? When I have a need, and I can fill it, it feels narcissistic to make caring for me a priority. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this way?
Recently though I’ve been questioning this logic. I’ve got so run down by stress, and not taking care of myself that my depletion has manifested itself as an infected cyst on my shoulder. The cyst, named Bob, (obviously) has been swollen and painful for over a week, I’m on my second course of antibiotics and some pretty strong pain relief. Bob is a bit of a message for me. I need to take better care of my needs. I need to focus on looking after myself a bit more, and that isn’t selfish.
I’m a Mum and a Wife, a friend, a Granddaughter, a Niece, and an Aunt. I can’t be any of these things successfully or usefully without being healthy, calm and happy myself. Before I can send any energy out into the world I have to replenish, and then maintain, my own reserves. Fixing myself to be more useful to others isn’t selfish, it’s just common sense. If accepting help, and taking time for myself helps me Mother my children better then it isn’t selfish it’s right.
I have accepted depleted energy levels as part of living, and with CFS/ME in the mix to some extent it is. I do need to enjoy the small things, and live a reasonably gentle life. However I would like to see my health the best it possibly can be, by getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising. I would like to reduce my stress levels, and the drama in my life. I’m beginning to see that to some extent it’s up to me to fortify myself and make these dreams a reality.
So I think taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. It’s sensible, logical, and very very important. So for those of you out there feeling similarly to me, lets make a pact and do this thing. Lets nurture ourselves so we can nurture our loved ones. Lets do the things that make us smile more, and lets do them without feeling guilty. Are you in?
You’re so right! It’s so easy to put others first, but we aren’t much use to them if we don’t look after ourselves. By looking after yourself you’re being kind to yourself and to those you love. Good luck with it! (And hope Bob gets sorted soon!)
Thanks Sarah, hopefully Bob will leave my shoulder soon!
I always think of the analogy of the oxygen mask on a plane, and the instruction: “Fit your own mask before helping others”.
How can you be a good mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, etc etc if you don’t look after yourself?
Good on you – hope Bob disappears soon!
Yes that’s a good one to remember. Thanks.
I totally agree with you too! We are all much better at helping others, if we help ourselves first. I’ve been trying to do this for a little while and I’m pleased to say that now I feel happier, I haven’t had as many bugs and colds as usual over the past few months! Reducing stress and being happier have helped me loads and I hope that you get there too – oh and that Bob goes away too! xx
It’s great to hear this notion has been having such a positive affect on your health.