Service or Self. Is it a choice you have to make?
My son walked in from taking care of his animals tonight, wearing a wet cotton hoodie and sopping snow boots after being out longer than he expected. When he went out to check and feed everyone, he probably assumed it would only take a minute, and rather then stop and put on his winter coat, he trudged ahead until he was shivering and near tears. The unseasonably cold, wet temperatures mean that our baby chicks, who thrive at 95 degrees, and our horses, who can survive all winter outside with their now gone winter coats, are relying on us to keep them sheltered and warm.
It reminded me of so many situations in my own life where I put the needs of everyone else (or at least my children) above my own. For me it started with skipping the shower when I was home with the baby alone, then lunch occasionally, because how do you let the baby cry while you cook? It morphed into kids who always had birthday parties while my husband and I rarely making date night a priority. Missed workouts and repetitive meals that everyone will eat for me, while they kids are hardly miss a dance lesson that they really want.
Daily, I talk to clients who struggle with the same challenge. Putting their own self care ahead of, or even on the same playing field as that of others, feels wrong or hard to them. They worry that making a change for themselves will somehow detract from others. They carry the load of the team at work. They assure that their kids have a good lunch, but then settle for whatever is left for themselves, rather than something that will fuel them through their day. I’m not talking about self-sacrifice for survival, where there is only enough to feed the children. I am talking about putting more importance on the needs of others then on your own. Service above self is a wonderful philosophy, until it becomes a detriment of your own health and self. If you have only one body with which to serve, is taking care of that body part of your responsibility in the journey to helping others?
Does putting your own needs first have to impact the needs of others? Does you eating healthy or getting in your workout have to be less fun for everyone else? Or, by modeling self-care and healthy habits, are you giving those around you permission and courage to do the same?
I’d love to hear how you manage to “put your own oxygen mask on first”, so you can better care for others. Share your ideas in the comments. You might just change someone’s life with your suggestion.