“Me first.” We hear this indignant cry from young children all the time. We are prone to correct them and it makes us cringe a little when we hear someone a little older proclaim that their needs are priority. The fact is, however, that many of us have forgotten when it is appropriate to put “me first”. I’m not suggesting that generosity and self-sacrifice are not noble ideals, just that many of us have become unable to detangle our own needs from the obligation to fulfill the needs of others. Surely every parent out there can attest that they have had a moment when they needed to lock themselves in the bathroom for a few minutes or fantasized about running away with the circus (Can you still do that?) Those of us who work in a field that provides service to others, teaching, medicine, mental health often put our head down every night drained of energy from our efforts to help others. The responsibility of being a spouse, employer, volunteer, minister, public servant can often leave us with the same drained feeling. We love what we do, we love the people we do it for, but in order to continue giving the best of ourselves, we have to have a best self to give. That, my friends, does not come without taking some time to put “me first”. If you don’t plan it and schedule it in, it will inevitably manifest in one of many ways:
-An illness because your body will eventually tell you that enough is enough
-An argument, a slammed door, or running way to avoid a neglected relationship
-Depression and isolation from others
-The abuse of food, or substances to feel good
As a therapist, I know we use the term “coping skills” a lot. The fact is, all of the things I have mentioned are coping skills and they are quite effective. These coping skills, if relied on exclusively, often lead to addiction, poor physical health, burnout, relationship conflicts.
One way to avoid over dependence on unhealthy coping strategies is to develop a daily practice of putting yourself first for a bit. We wouldn’t expect a great warrior to save his nation or tribe without spending a great deal of time tending to his physical strength and vitality.
Warriors, parents, teachers, counselors, leaders! Childlike wisdom proclaims, “Me First”, so you can be grounded, nourished, empowered to fight the good fight. #mefirst #selfc#are #healthycoping #burnout #helpingprofessionals #parentingishard
What will you do today to practice “me first”? Yoga? Meditation? Prayer? Journaling? Exercise? Art?
Really….I would love to know.