Think about the most important people in you life. The people who are your first priority, the ones you have to take care of, provide for, support, cherish, love, honor, and respect. Name those people aloud. Did you include yourself? If not…*smile*…
In my profession, self-care is drilled into us day after day, course after course. So naturally, after a while most people stop ingesting it. However, lets stop and really think of the importance. Realistically, I sit in a chair for hours every day listening to other people’s struggles, fears, and concerns. After a day filled with that how can you not take time to make sure that you are okay?
Self-care is not limited to the counseling profession, but to all great leaders. We cannot be effective if we are tired, stressed, worn, and unsupported. This semester, more so than any other, I have been forced to adhere to a stringent schedule. I also have to make sure to talk to my supervisors or people in my support system so that I am in a state of mind that is ready to counseling, mentor, and lead. How can I be expected to take care of someone else if I cannot even take care of myself? How long do you expect to take care of all those other people if you are neglecting yourself? You simply have to come first.
What is it that rejuvenate you? Is it prayer? Meditation? Walking? Exercise? Music? Writing? Reading? Whatever it is, do it!! You absolutely need time that is yours and yours alone, where you create a space to explore whatever it is you need to explore at that moment. It does not have to be for hours on end, it can be thirty minutes a day, wake up early or do it on your lunch break from work; take time for yourself!
*holds up hand* before you berate me with excuses as to why you cannot, think of where you are right now in your life. Reflect on the energy, time, dedication, and tenacity it took you to get there. Now think of how you felt on your journey so far; was it pleasant? Did you enjoy it? Or are you nowhere near where you want to be? Are you in the same place that you were in last year? THINK! Consider this, if you have not been taking care of yourself and you’ve gotten to where you are, think of how now-moving forward-and making yourself a priority things have the potential to be different.
We are so often impatient with ourselves. Forcing ourselves into changes, and mentally abusing ourselves for failures and stagnation. What do you think it would be like to instead tell yourself it is okay. You didn’t get the job and its okay. You missed a networking opportunity and its okay. You got passed up for the big promotion and its okay. What would it be like to be as lovingly supportive to yourself as you would be your partner, or your child, or whomever you hold dear?
I found a beautiful poem this morning called Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, and in it he writes:
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
If you’re not putting yourself as a priority, how would you like to start? And if you are, what are the things that you’re doing?