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Self Care is not Selfish

One of the common patterns I see in many clients — and in myself — is a conflict with self-care.

This conflict is fueled by our cultural and religious beliefs that it is our “job” to take care of others and that selflessness is a virtue and other cultural beliefs. These both contain some truth, in my opinion, but our lives require a healthy balance.

I love the often referred to analogy of flying in an airplane with a child. If something happens and the oxygen masks are needed, you are instructed to put yours on first, then the child’s. Why? Because if you run out of oxygen, you can’t help your child. Everyone suffers.

Replace the idea of oxygen with human energy and it becomes clear that we must attend to ourselves in order to be the best we can be for our self and others.

The importance of self-care became really clear to me when I was a single parent and a teacher raising two energetic little girls. I learned then that energy constantly going out-ward was draining all the juiciness and passion for life. I was just going through the motions, putting one foot in front of the other, like an automated robot. Consequently, I wasn’t being the best or even 2nd best for my family and friends or as a teacher. And definitely no energy left for myself.

I started to take little bits of time for me. My morning coffee time became mom’s quiet time while I read and relaxed my mind. I enforced strict bedtimes most nights (thank God, my girls liked their sleep!) and evenings were mine to do a pedicure, watch an adult movie, have a nourishing conversation with a girlfriend, etc.

Over time, these nourishing activities opened the flow to receiving. My energy became better, and because I was allowing quiet time, my intuitive and creative side became stronger. Quickly my cup was refilling and I was able to give back from a full cup, not an empty one. Passion and creativity for life was renewed and eventually this led to starting a parent education business with a friend.

Just recently, my daughter, now a mother of three, remarked how it helps her to care for herself because she remembers how I always took a little mom time in the morning with my coffee. How great that caring for my self actually has a positive effect for her still, years later. That’s what I call a win-win.

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