A different type of self-care
I recently heard a helpful analogy. If we consider ourselves to be like a traditional china tea cup, then we should be caring for others out of the overflow that spills into the saucer, not pouring out the resources inside the cup until we are empty.
Often when this topic comes up in conversation (especially with women), I have heard people say, “but it feels so selfish to be putting myself first and spending time and resources on me. There are so many other demands, the people I love need me, and I tend to put myself last, if I ever get around to myself at all”. I catch myself saying the same thing sometimes. I will get around to taking care of me later…
So, I am investigating my patterns of thinking. There are always reasons for doing what we do. What’s going on underneath this statement? What could I possibly gain by not valuing my own self-care more? Is there some pleasure I am getting from this modernised self-flagellation? Is there a personal need I am filling with my “sacrificial living”? Could this be an expression of my wanting to feel needed? Do I enjoy the role of being the problem fixer, the rescuer in a situation? Has my context developed an admiration for those who are always emptying themselves and busy helping others?
This brings me face-to-face with the hard fact that I may be trying to save the situation, help people, draw attention to my own abilities and sacrifice and make others reliant on me so that I feel important, valued and needed. Does this really help anyone – them or me – in the long run? Could I be pointing people instead to their given abilities to think, grow and act and also to the ultimate resource we have access to: a God who created us with our own talents and abilities, and rescued us by doing what we could not do for ourselves. How can I be a practical resource from the ultimate source and not try to replace the source myself? How can I ensure that my cup be filled to overflowing from the source, so that my saucer can be a resource to others? What kind of self-care will this entail?
It strikes me as something other than focusing exclusively on my wellbeing or pampering myself, but self-care that involves nurturing my connection to my Creator, Comforter and Sustainer . A self-care that gives time to exploring what He has called me to be and do rather than expending my energy driven to be everything to everybody. A self-care that examines what has become most important in my life and re-orders my loves and longings. A self-care that asks some uncomfortable questions and comes face-to-face with the real me, in His hands.
(Some time at our Stress Management Getaway on 9 October is allocated to spending time on your own, journaling and thinking – an opportunity to think through some of theses ideas.)