Saturday, February 14, 2015


When I was much, much younger, the older generation was constantly looking out for the younger one and if they felt the youngsters were being too reckless, the first word out of their mouths would be, "Careful!" 

I think it conveyed a notion of loving concern for most people. However, for some, "Careful!" meant that the person saying it didn't trust the other person's judgment. We were also taught - though not outwardly expressed - that while it was okay to look out for someone else, looking out for ourselves was suspect, if not downright selfish. 

Putting someone else first is wonderful if it comes from love and a genuine desire to see that person happy. But if it comes at the expense of our own health or happiness, or if it comes out of a sense of duty or obligation, is it really all that healthy? I leave that part of the discussion for another time. 

When I first started on this lifestyle of getting unwrapped, nearly 6 years ago, one of the first things that my therapist asked me about was how I spent my time. When I listed what I did in a day, he asked me how much time I spent on myself ... because that had been missing in my list. I had to admit that not only did I NOT spend time on myself, but that on the rare occasion that I did, I always felt guilty for doing so, because of that same implicit message I'd gotten when I was a child. 
Photo "Washing Hands With Soap" by
jackthumm at

This extended, over the course of many years of course, to the most basic routines of self-care. To my surprise, I discovered that I'd given up (unless I felt really gross) washing my face every day, brushing my teeth every day, etc. I'd just gotten out of the habit (so busy looking after everyone else that at the end of the day I was too tired to do much else except fall into bed). 

That's when I decided to start with something small, something that wouldn't take a lot of time. I started to brush my teeth every day. It took time to incorporate this into my daily routine, but I persevered. 

Doing that one small thing for me ... sent my inner self a message: I'm important enough to spend time with, to spend time doing things for. 

Sounds kind of basic doesn't it? Yet I needed to tell myself just that. It gave me the courage to continue to work on the things in my life that I'd let slide because they were unseen. Except that I became more aware that they were there, because I was cluing in more. These were things I had allowed to choke out the Life that was in me, to squeeze out the me that I could have become, to the point where I didn't even know who that person was.

Now, six years later, my self-care routine includes washing my face AND brushing my teeth. Sometimes (though not as often as I would like) it even includes flossing! 

And that's not all. The routines are just externals. I'm more comfortable inside my own skin - and I know who I am now - so that I have resources to give to others out of a sense of wanting to do it rather than feeling pressured or manipulated into it. In fact, I can even tell when people are doing that to me, and I can give myself the permission to say no. My emotional tank can't be running on empty when I agree to do something, or it won't get done.

Being careful for me now means being full of care. I look after myself as much as possible. Care for myself spills over into caring for others. 

That works for me.   :D

No comments:

Post a Comment