Originally written for the New Moon Women’s Circle website
How can I help? Can I help you? I love helping people and giving of my time and energy to lift people up. In fact, I could easily give all of myself at anytime to be there for the people I care about. And I have.
And I became exhausted. And sick. I had nothing left to give.
After years of therapy, I have begun to learn what was missing: I wasn’t giving anything to myself. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but I need to give to myself so that I am able to serve others. Whether it is taking myself to see the latest “chick flick,” getting an ice cream with rainbow sprinkles, or sitting enjoying nature, these little gifts that I give to myself energize me; then I help others and as long as I continually treat myself, I do not get completely worn out.
Sometimes the gift is rest. What yoga has taught me is that we need to be mindful of where we are and act from that place. Sometimes I might want to go out, but I only have enough energy to watch tv. Sometimes the gift is saying “no.” My friend recently asked me to go to an open mic. But I was running low on energy and had a busy weekend, so I said “no.” It was incredibly difficult, yet at the end of that evening I felt my energy return, and I was able to give my best to my clients, and then I was able to be social with my friends.
This is a practice that I still struggle with. When I ignore myself my body, my mind, and my spirit will shut down when they have no energy left. We wouldn’t go on a trip without filling our car with gas, so why do we expect to go on life’s journey without filling ourselves up. And we wouldn’t ask our friends and family to join us to get stuck in the desert. If we want to take care of others, we need to take care of ourselves, first.