It was a question that stopped me in my tracks and had my brain racing around in circles. I have no idea what my response was that day, but this question opened up new worlds for me in terms of self-care and taking care of myself.
I went from the bottom of my priority list to the top. Well, not right away perhaps, but nowadays my needs get met first. Period, end of story.
I tend to be a bit of an anomaly in this way in my career field. (I never was good at following the rules 🙂 )
Most helping professionals are taught how to help and care for others – but not so much how to care for themselves. And, at least in my experience in the counseling field, there’s a bit of an expectation that you are responsible for helping your client’s needs get met, even if that means sacrificing your own. I call it the martyrdom complex – and it’s led to more than a few disagreements with co-workers and supervisors along my career journey!
Because that’s crap. (Seriously. Stop doing that!)
Here’s the thing: If my needs and desires aren’t getting met, if I’m burnt out and exhausted and worn down by trying to meet everyone else’s needs – I’m no good to anyone. I can’t serve my clients or my family or my friends or anyone effectively when I’m depleted.
The same goes for you.
You can’t get water from an empty well. Try all you like but it isn’t going to happen. And you can’t give love and care and nurturing from your grumpy, worn out, and exhausted being.
Want to be the best counselor, nurse, doctor, minister, <insert any other helping professional title here>? Put yourself first. Nurture yourself first.
Want to be an amazing parent, partner, family member, friend? Make your own self-care your top priority. (Yes, parents, even more than your child – how can you help them be their best self if you’re not yours?)
Where are you on your caretaking priority list?
If you aren’t at the top, how come?