A very wise friend took me aside this year and said *Anna, you’ve got to get the basics right and look after yourself before you can look after anyone else*. It was quite confronting at the time but I feel blessed that I have people who care enough about me to take me aside and point these things out because, as obvious as it sounds, it’s the single most important piece of advice I’ve ever been given.
The fact is, no matter how much of a multi-tasking wizard you might be, there’s simply no point running around helping others if you aren’t doing the fundamentals to look after yourself (eating regularly and well, taking care of your body’s exercise needs, indulging in and making time for the things YOU enjoy, taking time to quiet your mind and watch those stress levels). This probably sounds like a total no brainer to most folk but for me it was an epiphany.
If, like me, your natural instinct is to help, it becomes easy to get sidetracked with other people’s lives, issues and problems. On a subconscious level it’s even a relief to do this as it’s a way to avoid dealing with your own life, issues and problems which can often be confronting . This tendency to get sidetracked is compounded by the fact that this sort of behaviour is generally considered *good* and *helpful* and applauded and positively reinforced because you’re seen as a *good person* (which obviously feels quite nice) but at what cost?
I’ve spent many years not really doing the fundamentals…living by barely existent *fly by the seat of my pants* self-care rules with no set self-care routine and it has taken its toll. I’ve treated my body as if it should be invincible and put all manner of strain and stress on it and to be fair it has coped pretty damn well considering. Of course, I take full responsibility for the situation….after all no one else could MAKE me say YES when I really needed to say NO and no one else could teach me the lesson that saying no doesn’t make me a bad person…that it’s ok to put my own needs first. It does gall me however that it’s taken me this long to *get it*….I do feel like a bit of an idiot lol
Now that I’ve turned the corner, I’m finding that looking after myself properly is pretty hard work but each day I stick to a good routine it gets a little bit easier to stick to it the next day too. I know I can teach this old girl new tricks and that all of this stuff will just become habit one day if I can stay on track and remain mindful. Some days I catch my brain playing those old tricks….trying to beckon me down the path of productivity for productivity’s sake, telling me I’m not a *useful, productive member of the human race* unless I comply and that sacrificing my health for the cause is noble…but I’m wise to it now!
LJ said that a teacher once posed the following question: *Pandas live almost entirely solitary lives, does that make their existence any less valid?*…..apparently the entire class agreed that it didn’t. I really liked that anecdote and I’m learning to believe that, like the panda, it’s ok for me to just be here in the world without feeling like I need to justify my existence through being useful to others or productive for the sake of it.
Better late than never!