At one point, you may have had the idea that self-care was a selfish thing do to.
You might be like a lot of my clients, and like I used to be, wondering what the heck this “extreme self-care” business was all about. Certainly not something for busy folks like yours truly.
And then I burned out….to a nice crisp. That was in 2004-05.
Now I understand it much better. What happens to those of us who-get-things-done, those nothing-is-too-much-for-me types is that we function so well under duress, and we don’t feel anything amiss.
I’m told that’s what leprosy is/was like. You lose your sense of touch in a limb that has leprosy. So your toe can be on fire and you feel nothing.
Not to compare modern stress to leprosy, but there are commonalities. (I hope “commonalities” doesn’t sound too academic.)
You may not feel like anything is wrong, yet from time to time you sense that something is not right with you, but you don’t know what it is. At times, your body tries to tell you something.
Have you had those crazy busy days when at some point you feel this discomfort in your stomach and you don’t know why? Until you remember that you’ve needed to visit the bathroom for at least 2 hours but you haven’t had time to.
What is needed is a shift of awareness. Self-carelessness is thinking what’s the minimum amount of sleep, nutrition, beauty visits, and so forth that you need to get by. You can get by for a long time living like this. And you can convince yourself that it’s necessary because you don’t have the resources to take care of yourself.
Self-care 101 is thinking how can I live so I can be at my best for the longest amount of time.
Which kind person eventually makes the greatest contribution?
One more story to make my case. Some of you know that I’m a big fan of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I’ve read many books about her. Well, she was kinda like you and me at one point.
When she was just beginning her order, what she called the “call within the call,” to serve the poorest of the poor, she was determined that she and the nuns who worked with her would eat exactly what the poor people in the neighborhood ate. That way the nuns would really be able to empathize with the people they were serving.
Then she got sick. Her medical doctor informed her that if she wanted to make any real contribution, she would have to take care of herself.
Self care is not about selfishness.