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.
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.