Self-care is to self-love as… communication is to a relationship. Possible to do but probably not in a quality or healthy way.
Just go with me on this. This concept recently occurred to me, as someone who speaks much on the value and importance of self-love as the foundation for all the others forms of love we are able to give. More on that in past posts like “Beyond Valentine’s… Unconditional Love” and “To whom are you living for” amongst others.
That said, it occurs to me that while I am very much an advocate for self-love –for all of my talk- I’m not always the best at demonstrating that self-love myself with self-care. For many, it is much easier to take care of others before themselves, this fact is especially true of parents. When else is it acceptable and even expected to take care of another before yourself, other than in a parent-child relationship?!
With that, me – like many others – can easily fall victim to the mentality of taking care of EVERYONE else in our lives, at the NEGLECT of ourselves. As a father, I always want to make sure my child is well. From there, my son’s mother, my parents, my siblings and so on. To the point, I’m even concerned for friends, acquaintances, the world at large. Unfortunately, like many others, where I fall short is in the taking care of myself. It’s very easy to want to make sure everyone else is good and dismiss myself with excuses like I’m strong, I’m fine, I can manage etc. However, for all those excuses of why it is easier to put others first, it is impossible to fill another’s cup, when your own cup is empty.
Many in our society are taught such values, ideas like self-sacrifice and selflessness are classy, and noble etc. Such thoughts are so prevalent in our culture that man often become programmed and condition to bring such attitudes to our professional lives. Oftentimes for jobs that they hate, you will find people happily slaving away, sacrificing their health well being and personal lives for the sake of the job, a check, another person’s ambitions etc
I like to think it’s an admirable trait to put others first before the self at times, but I now recognize the need for a balance to that. I’ve had to learn through many painful first-hand experiences that consistently putting everyone first, at the expense of self can be very harmful to our self and others in the long run. I’ve experienced a range of outcomes to not giving myself the proper self-care, from lashing out and hurting others around me (usually those I am doing all of the self-sacrificing for) to landing myself in the hospital (from stress or just neglecting my own health and warning signs). Unfortunately for me, it’s been a cycle, because smart as I like to pretend that I am, I seem to have a hard time learning this lesson. I usually go through something, relearn this lesson, bounce back, get consumed in my world again, forget the lesson learned and am painfully reminded by the universe of this lesson again. “Uh Oh… forgot to take care of myself, not doing too great at this demonstrating self-love thing” – and the cycle begins again.
So here I am again, going through another physical issue because I neglected to take care of myself. I’ve been so consumed making sure my son and family were good, taking others to the Drs. On my NYC hustle, going non-stop to earn and cutting corners like avoiding my own Drs to save some cash, save some time, and prioritize everything else. Putting everything and everyone else first, and here I am being painfully reminded of the need for self-care, within that self-love I’m always advocating. Had I kept that in the forefront I could’ve avoided all this. So I’m relearning the lesson -yet again- and sharing with you all, and a reminder to myself and all the other self-sacrificing idealistic fools like myself out there. Be kind to yourself, that your heart may be full enough to be kind to others. Just my own personal note to self and word of advice for others like me.
Be well all,