Put on your own oxygen mask before helping those around you.

It can be so difficult to remember to take care of yourself when you are a healer or caregiver, yet these are the times when you need to pay close attention to your own needs.  Every time you take a flight the flight attendants are sure to go over all the safety rules, one of which is to be sure to put your own oxygen mask on first.  Why is it that we, so often, forget that idea when we get back to our real lives.

For me the first thing I need to remember is there will never be enough time to complete all the tasks that I need to complete or help all the people that are looking for my help.  Logically I know that I will need to take care of myself so I can show up fully to help the people I love. Yet I repeatedly put my own needs on the back burner and choose giving to others before giving to myself. I have recently adopted a new practice of sitting with myself for 30 minutes every afternoon.  I sit down and ask my body what it wants at that time.  Meditation? Breathing? Writing? Walking? Yoga?  This gives me the time to center and ground.  I get to have this specific period of time to just …BE. oxygen mask

So I have developed tools for myself that help me stay centered and full but that
doesn’t necessarily answer how to keep good boundaries energetically when being with others.  There are a few things I do to be sure that I am now taking care of others to my own detriment.  I have written other blogs about taking care of yourself, like “Saying Yes to Your No”  and 2 about setting boundaries starting with “Doormats and Dictators”   Read those blogs for information there but in addition to the tools I talk about there I stay clear with myself and others by practicing other tools also.

I have come to know that another person’s behavior is not my responsibility.   For as long as I live I will have people in my life that make choices that I would not choose.  That is not my responsibility.  Allowing others to live their lives and knowing that there is nothing I need to do about it is liberating to my energy.  It is not my job to fix or heal anyone.  I have spent a lot of time participating in workshops and programs with the purpose of healing and no matter what the facilitator did or did not do I had to make the choice every time if I was going to participate in  my healing or walk away the same person I was before.  Likewise no matter what I say or do I can not help someone else heal that does not want to heal and I do not know better than any individual what they need for their healing.

The difference between supporting and saving can be tricky.  It can be almost second nature to give advice when someone shares a problem with you.  Sometimes we think it is loving to try to help them solve their problem.  Maybe what the person really needs is just to be heard?  Maybe the person needs to be asked “what would work for you to solve this problem?”  I believe that every individual knows exactly what they need to heal themselves or solve their own problems.  When we have the opportunity to find our own answers we not only find our answer but we are empowered with our ability to heal our lives.  Recently, I was talking with a client about supporting not saving and through our conversation I realized that saving had some degree of controlling where supporting was more about allowing.  When I allow someone to be on their own path their actions do not affect me as much.  With the support and allowing it is not about the value of my suggestion which allows my ego to stay out of the way.

The last thing I need to know when I am “helping” someone is my motivation.  If I am helping someone with the purpose of increasing my sense of self-worth, I am not able to keep myself out of their outcome.  If I am helping someone to make myself look better then I will perceive the results  they achieve as a reflection of myself so my investment in their outcome cannot help but be co-dependent and detrimental to both of us.

So, remember to take care of you.  Set up useful practices that help you show up for others in ways that are meaningful for you.  Don’t forget Put on your oxygen mask first.

What It Means To Be In Community

There was a long time in my life where I didn’t belong.  I thought there wasn’t a place for me.  After way too much heart ache and inability to allow myself to be a part of community I finally recognized that through my inability to allow others to support me I was limiting my ability to be a part of something bigger than myself.  It was an interesting dichotomy of not allowing myself to be supported and wanting desperately to be supported.   After years of working on my self-worth and ability to be vulnerable I found myself surrounded by people that were willing to support me (emotionally/spiritually) as long as I was willing to let them: community.

Through my process I have found what it means to be supported by community and what it means to support community.  These things are equal in my belief of community.  I need to put in as much as I get out, support as much as I am supported and love as much as I am loved.  Truth be told I will only get out as much as I put in.

In the communities I am in (this includes casual friendships, family, charities, spiritual/religious organizations or non-profit groups) I know that the more I give the more I receive and when I allow the web of community to catch me I am also building it up.  I practice forgiveness and acceptance to keep the web strong.  I allow other members to be whom and where they are.  I have learned to not keep score of perceived harms, or anything other people may do that I don’t agree with.  For me, it is useful to not take things personally and if there is a perceived judgement or harm I openly ask if that was the intention before assuming it was so that we can both gain clarity. With all of this I find the ability to let others be themselves and I can be myself.

There have been times in groups where I have seen individuals so concerned about what other people are doing they bring judgement and fear to the group and therefore break down the web. I think there are times when we all do that.  I know this is easy to do and I have seen this break down communities.  To me being in community means that I bring my full self to the group and come from a place of service and love and I receive the same in return.  I accept the fullness of others and embrace what they bring to the table and I know that it is in their fullness and my fullness that the web is complete.