Wednesday, July 22, 2015

self-care is not selfish

One of the scribes... asked him, 'Which is the first of all the commandments?' Jesus replied... 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. 
The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”~Gospel of Mark, chapter 12: 28-31
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“My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents, and I lay them both at His feet. “
~Mahatma Gandhi
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One of the unforeseen blessings of my autoimmune condition has been the necessity to learn how to focus on myself—my needs, my wants, and what I can and need to do to take care of myself.

I’ve been in the midst of a flare up recently, and everything has slowed once again because of necessity… including writing for the blog!

Today I gave myself permission to stay in my pajamas—and to read and write in bed.

I have always been a caretaker of one sort or another. It’s a role I play well, and one that is very familiar and comfortable for me. Coupled with my innate intuition, even as a young child, I instinctively knew how to evaluate the needs of those around me and jump in to take care of them.

Imagine my surprise when I first realized that, not only is caretaking not necessarily a positive trait, it can also be a form of self-destructiveness!

Please don’t misquote me. I’m not advocating here any sort of self-absorption or narcissistic, obsessive behavior. Far from it.  Yet for me and others like me (you know who you are!!), thinking about self is something we have to do consciously, deliberately.

It’s like the flight attendant points out in every flight… you have to put the mask on yourself first, before you have the oxygen and wherewithal to put the mask on those around you.

In truth, I am still a caretaker, and I assume I will always be one. But I’m getting better at learning to notice when I carry caretaking to the extreme—and to the exclusion of self-love, self-awareness and self-care.

And as soon as I do, I lay that, too, at the foot of the cross