Gaining energy, kindness, compassion and friendships through simply loving yourself.
What is it about you that you are proud of? What do you enjoy about yourself? Are you kind? Giving? Thoughtful? A good listener? Maybe you are a hard worker. A good dad. Mom. Wife. Friend.
In my younger years, I struggled. I struggles with who “I” was. I struggled with what I believed in. I allowed others to determine my self-worth. As a fitness and health conscious person, I heard multiple comments about being “to into yourself”. Striving for perfection. I started to believe this in those vulnerable years.
Maturation brought a new vision and with that a breath of confidence and perseverance. Setting goals and achieving them. Pursuing a life “I” wanted to live. Surrounding myself with like-minded people — positive in thought and life perception.
Then came motherhood. Another challenge. As a society, it has been embedded that your children are your priority and they are always to come first. For myself as a mother, I naturally wanted to do just this. I personally never knew a love as strong as the love I hold for my children. I can simply smell their hair and all is right in the world.
During all of this it is so very easy to lose yourself. It surrounds you with the everyday tasks of parenthood and life. Housework, chores, groceries, bills, dance, sports, the list is endless. At the end of the day you are left with limited store to give to yourself let alone anyone else. You collapse into the soft welcoming embrace of your bed that you are praying that for once, you do not end up sharing with the little that pranced in, in the wee hours of the morning. The only love you are making is that to your pillow, for the thought of moving another muscle is simply tiring in and of itself.
I ask you, through all of this, where does this leave you? How are YOU feeling? How is
your marriage, is it suffering? Your social life? Your health? Fitness? WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Two years ago, our family took a trip to Disney. It was the last trip as a family of 3. We were sitting on the tarmac, ready to take off, when you hear the to familiar instructions. Exits, overhead compartments, yada yada. I have heard these statements every time prior, but this time there was something that hit home for me in a way it truly never did before.
Put your own oxygen on first, then help your neighbor
As a nurse this felt like common knowledge but had never really though of the philosophy of it all… It’s like a light went off. Dah– Carolyn — if you don’t have your own oxygen you will be dead and good luck caring for anyone else.
Ok simple statement. But I question, why is it that we DO NOT do this in our every day lives? Why is it that we exhaust our energy stores? We forget to eat. Your bladder is amazing because you hold it the majority of the day. And when was the last time you went on a date? Like actually got dressed up, felt good, fit and healthy and went out on a date? Wait, fit and healthy? Up yeah — time for fitness? Unless you’re talking at 4am — I’m thinking sleep trumps all. (not really)
Don’t get me wrong. I know why. I hear it all the time.
“How are they on vacation and left their kids at home? I could never do that”
“I don’t have time for the gym”
“I am so busy and I eat on the run”
Believe me, I have caught myself saying some of these things. But why? What message am I sending? I have to be honest with myself and with you.
Actions speak far louder than worlds and I am saying, “they are not a priority” — “I am not important”. Now let me ask you, those people who are watching you. Those little beings, whether yours of someone elses’. What do you want them to see? Hear? Be when they become YOU? Interesting thought isn’t it.
Taking care of yourself?
Since my experience on the tarmac, working diligently on self-love and who I want my kids to see and become has been at the forefront of my daily endeavors. It is my goal as parent to be a role model, leading by example. I want them to learn that being in good health is important. Relationships are more important than things. Kindness to others, brings happiness in yourself. Everything worth while, takes a little time, work and patience. When they are struggling they need to take time out for themselves, regroup and try again. In doing this, here are the things that I have experienced and learned:
- I am a better mother. I have patience. I am not as stressed. I enjoy the QUALITY of time I get to spend with my kids.
- Inner peace. I take a deep breath, relax and truly feel well. I have less stress which in turn means my physical health is benefiting.
- The guilt fades. I had to talk myself through being away from my children when I chose to do something for myself. It still is some days difficult but it gets easier and I LOVE coming back to them.
- I am a better wife. I don’t have resentment. I feel fulfilled and have more patience.
- I actually have MORE to give to everyone. Showing kindness and gratitude to others feels amazing and my relationships flourish.
- I have more energy and am able to achieve more than in the moments then when I felt that I had the world on my shoulders.
- I am a person, independent of my children, my husband, family and peers and it is amazing.
Breaking the mold that society places on parenthood — allowing you to LOVE yourself, care for yourself and put yourself first is not only an option, it is essential. You are not selfish, self-centered or egotistical. In fact you are just the opposite. You are teaching those around you, leading by example that you are important, loved and valuable. I hope my children grow to see exactly that in themselves.