As the stewards remind us each plane flight – when you are suddenly in a situation without oxygen, you must care for yourself first by organising your own oxygen before you help your family.
Don’t you find this contradicts our training to care for others first? And when we care for ourselves first, do you notice we often feel guilty for being selfish.
Do you care for yourself regularly? Okay, we seldom have to give our family oxygen in a airplane, but if you find yourself answering ‘yes’ to most of the following statements, you are not caring for yourself enough.
Do you find you often find it hard to deal with the daily demands from your family anymore?
You might notice with pangs of guilt that you feel as though you have run out of love and patience for them.
You might often feel tired, jaded, and grumpy, and feel swamped by the daily important, urgent family things you have to do.
The little things in life may lose their pleasure, and you feel bored with your life, and unappreciated and unloved.
Perhaps your house doesn’t feel a haven anymore and you would do almost anything to escape.
If you find yourself answering ‘yes’ to most of these statements – here is an important warning for you. Family relationships break down because the people looking after family members don’t have a system of self-care. We all need to regularly renew ourselves so we can lovingly care for others. To carry on the airplane image, you might be one of those people who in an airplane emergency will be making sure their family can breathe first, and meanwhile they are choking in a vacuum.
If you don’t organise to care for yourself, who will? You are the only one who is responsible to care for yourself – not anyone else – not your partner, your children, or your friends. You are often the only one who knows what you need to do to recharge your batteries every week so that you can be there for those who need you. I can’t possibly guess what your oxygen source is, and maybe you don’t know yet.
This is how I decide what I can do to best look after myself. Every year I ask myself this question: “What one thing, if I did it, would change my life for the better?” Sometimes I find two or three things to do to positively change my life. Take time to think about the answer. Take as much time as you need. This is an exciting and possibly life-changing process. The change you can make is often quite simple, easily done, and not rocket-science at all and it does not require lots of self-sacrifice on anyone’s part, However, it can positively change your life and your family’s life so that relationships remain strong, and home is again a haven and not an unpleasant workplace.
Write all possible answers down on what benefits you see from caring for yourself, and how you can care for yourself. Look at all aspects of yourself – your physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual sides. Here is a link to a wonderful teacher of mine – Stephen Covey who has a plan I use to implement change. And check out my goal-setting blogs for more ideas.
Sometimes we lose sight of what is really important in life, and so we get all tangled up in the little things. Work stress, irritations about others, jobs at home piling up and up, feeling sorry for ourselves and harboring unhelpful thoughts and past hurts. We often let poor food and exercise habits sneak up on us too. When we take steps to care for yourselves first, when we regularly give yourselves time to feed our souls, minds, and bodies, we are better equipped to care for our family and loved ones.
I encourage you to find out which one thing you can change in your life so you care for yourself first to better care for your family. When you become a more loving, empathetic, and happy person, your family will reap those benefits every day.
In my next post I will show you a simple way you can plan to care for yourself first, and still be available to care for your family.