Taking good care of ourselves – before we care for others – is not selfish.
It’s smart and healthy
As a therapist, I work with many people who are extremely busy. Busy with careers, kids, relationships, extended family, hobbies, community involvement, and on and on. Many clients come in to my office burned out and tired. On several occasions, people have told me that coming to counseling is the only hour in their week where they turn off their cell phone and are able to sit and relax in a quiet environment. Why are we so exhausted all the time?
As a society we have lost the ability to care for ourselves very well. If you look back at the advertising campaigns in the 1950’s, modern-day inventions were suppose to give us more leisure time. We were promised lots of time with our families if we just bought this or that gadget for our home. The lies of advertising are still with us. Getting the latest and greatest cell phone with Internet access will allow us to be in constant contact with the people who are important to us. What about taking time to care for ourselves? To rest, sit in quietness, listen to music we enjoy uninterrupted, read a good book and best of all; listen to what God has to say to us.
There is a myth that taking care of ourselves before we help other people will label us selfish. You may have even been told by – and I use this term deliberately – a toxic person that you are selfish for taking care of yourself before meeting their need. Beware! There are people lurking out in the world who want you to meet their needs above all other’s, including your own. I am not advocated that everyone only do what they want to do without regard for others. I am suggesting that we must know ourselves well enough to recognize when burnout and fatigue has settled into our spirit and body. This is true no matter what profession you are in or whether you work at all. We will be better fathers, mothers, employees, employers, volunteers, friends, parents and human beings if we care for ourselves and then care for the needs of others.