… You cannot serve from an empty vessel.
It is taking me a long time to learn this lesson. As a highly empathetic person, I have a tendency to internalize the emotions of others. I’m somebody who takes on the problems of the world around her, and I openly feel what is going on outside of me more so than what is on the inside.
The words, feelings, and actions of others impact me in an incredible way. It’s draining, and if I don’t take time out to take care of myself, I can’t find the energy to serve the world in a compassionate way.
I used to feel guilty for this. Sometimes, I still do. I think – there are people out there who need compassion and love and to be cared for. There are people whose needs I need to put before my own. When I’m done x, y, and z, THEN I will take care of myself. Or we do take care of ourselves, but its out of fear – I ONLY take care of myself so I don’t gain weight, or get sick.
Sound familiar? Self-compassion and self care are not easy to learn. They are not easy things to do. They take courage and bravery and commitment. It’s especially difficult if you are somebody who grew up in co-dependent relationships, where you got validation out of taking care of others and putting your own needs behind those of others.
Listen to your emotional side. Give yourself permission to have what you need. To ignore that next phone call. To stay in and watch a movie instead of going out. To stay an extra day on vacation after a conference so you aren’t rushing around. Don’t worry about doing it perfectly, and while you can experience the guilt, don’t let it run your self care agenda.
Authentic self care that nourishes you, that refreshes you, that fills up your soul and allows you to have the overflow to take care of others, is not selfish. Nurture yourself and love yourself and give yourself space to feel – and then worry about taking care of others.
My Favourite Ways To Take Care Of Myself
- a hot lavender epsom salts bath before bed
- turning off screens and putting my phone on airplane mode at 8pm
- a hot cup of tea on the patio
- snuggles with a loved one or pet
- permission to be lazy/ignore chores for a day
- doing a puzzle
- reading a book
- staying in for the night and watching a kids movie
Do you find self care difficult? What have you tried? What will you try? Do you make a commitment to self care?