Some people are too generous. Many give too much. They care too much.
Their overwhelming generosity costs them too much time, energy, space and money.
They put themselves last. Their physical, emotional, mental or spiritual health suffers and burn out is the result.
As a parent and teacher, I’ve discovered that over-care for others can jeopardize my self-care. It’s exhausting. A severe lack of energy affects my health. It also diminishes my optimistic outlook. The quality of my life and those around me is reduced. It’s a bizarre, catch-22 predicament, which means there are times when I am not game enough to care for others.
Self-honour is my solution. It’s a vital key to a satisfying life for me and the positive effects flow onto my family.
I have to come first.
It may seem selfish but let me tell you why I feel it’s good for everyone. I find it useful to think of me, and my life, in this way: everyone has four bodies. Each body has needs of it’s own. I have a physical body, an emotional body, a mental body and a spiritual body.
I am responsible for their care before I can offer adequate care to others.
I try to develop self-honour by taking care of my basic needs. Some basic human needs that I have found I must meet in order to develop and maintain good physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health are:
Getting enough sleep
Eating a balanced diet
Taking plenty of exercise
Having regular fun
Spending time alone with me
Connecting with family, friends or community
Learning something new
Finding meaning in each day
Realizing my purpose in each moment
The list of needs might seem overwhelming; it can be never-ending too, but if I tackle it one need at a time, it usually strengthens something else. If I make sure I get enough sleep, then I have enough energy to exercise. I like to walk and practice yoga, so when I have enough energy to do these things, I become stronger.
When I am physically strong, I feel confident in my ability to get things done. I feel good. When I feel good, my emotional body is in better shape. When I feel good, I can think clearly, so I am rarely stressed. It’s a good place to be when I want to practice gratitude, and it all begins with plenty of sleep.
It takes my four bodies to care for every other body. Rather than coming a very poor second, third or fourth place in the care game of life, by honouring myself, I put myself into first place. If I want to be ready, willing and able to care for others, then I have to create a win/win situation. I want to live a long and healthy life.
First place is the best place to be if I want to care for others.
Some people avoid caring for others, not because they don’t care, but because they care too much. They may not know their own limits, or they know them too well. It’s a challenge to establish and maintain personal boundaries around giving, taking and sharing.
Appropriate self-care comes from learning how to balance my needs and those of others. Over-care for those I love may mean under care for me. Self-honour means that I win.
When I win, everyone I love wins too.
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Assistant Ed: Miciah Bennett/Ed: Bryonie Wise
Photo: zsófi B
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