Give to Yourself First

We give so much of ourselves to the world – our families, friends, work, and extracurriculars. All of the obligations and opportunities we engage in demand our time, attention, and commitment. As we work to give the best of our capabilities and ourselves to these worthy projects and duties it is important to remember to give the best of yourself to yourself. 

In the trials of daily life – that may actually be trials, challenges and difficulties but may also be routines, opportunities, and responsibilities – we have the opportunity to give away all that we have to others and the world. Or we have the choice to intentionally nourish ourselves so that these regular or typical events do not drain us and leave us feeling winded or in need of a break.

When we rush to fulfill everyone else’s expectations first we can find ourself depleted and lacking energy because we have saved nothing for ourselves. However, when we serve ourselves first we create space and give ourselves room to be nurtured and supported. If we never stop for water we will die long before we finish the race. Like any trained marathoner we know that to pursue our goals, and show up in the world the way we want to, we have to feed ourselves and meet our needs first. This can include basic self-care like hydration or getting enough sleep. It can also look like taking a night off, giving yourself a weekend away, or a social media detox. 

Making time to care for yourself is not selfish, nor is it a luxury. Caring for yourself is your first responsibility – not to the world or your employer – but to yourself. The adage, you cannot pour from an empty cup, comes to mind. Or the idea that when you are spent you have nothing left to give. There is no sense in running yourself ragged. If you choose to overexert yourself you will be always operating on a deficit, which serves no one. In order to arrive each day excited and eager to engage with the world rather than exhausted and resentful we must take care of ourselves. I know this from experience and I suspect you do too. When we press ourselves beyond our abilities or function with less than what we need from others, ourselves, or without the basic nourishment and boundaries that keep us healthy, we are unhappy. We are short and frustrated and oftentimes we’re too tired to investigate why. 

Next time, instead of running yourself harder when you already feel tired, take a break. Get a sip of water and take some deep breaths. Give yourself the space and time you need to recalibrate and align yourself with your goals. Rather than running around in circles or showing up worse for the wear, take a break and stretch, focus on caring for yourself not because you wish to serve others but because you are worthy and deserving of love, care, and attention – all of those wonderful things you already give to the world.

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