You are a helper, you are useful, you contribute positively to the world.
And you are SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT.
Bless your big beautiful Heart; it's most definitely in the right place when it comes to how you love and respect and care for other people.
But is it in the right place when loving, respecting, and caring for YOU? When was the last time you checked?
If you're like me, it's easy to forget to check, because we're so busy preventing the shit from hitting the fan, and making sure everyone else is okay.
How are you doing--really? What's helping you get through these hard times? What do you need right now? I know how much you love running and writing; when was the last time you did those things? I see how hard you're working; can you give yourself a break?
These are the types of questions I'd ask my clients and loved ones on a regular basis. When I asked myself these questions, however, it just felt kinda indulgent. Frivolous, even. I swatted these questions away like annoying bugs, because my automatic mind-chatter would reply "I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine". The fact that my brain couldn't even shut up long enough to check-in and see if I'm really fine? Red flag.
It's taken practice to finally feel okay with giving myself the same concern and care that I give to others. It's taken a while to finally feel that I can hold myself with the same tenderness.
Baby steps, though.
The first baby step I took towards practicing self-care was to acknowledge that I am way more than what I do for others--and so are you.
Tell me, what ELSE are you?
For example, while I identify strongly as a caring professional and loving family member and supportive friend... I'm also a writer, runner, nature lover, cat parent, creative, perpetual learner, spiritual seeker, amateur baker, activist, burgeoning traveler, earring and shoe collector, meditator, quiet rebel, explorer, feminist, bibliophile, Beyonce fan, and all-around independent woman.
These are just some of my valued life roles right now. There's a few that are primarily meant to benefit others. But many of them are not socially-driven: I do them ONLY to benefit me, myself, and I. I engage in these roles because I derive pure and unadulterated pleasure from them, simple as that.
I don't listen to Queen B and copy her dance moves because it's good for the world or because I think it makes me a "good person", whatever the heck that means. Hell no! I do it because it's good for ME, because her music and persona make me feel alive. (Or, "Beyonce gives me liiiiiife," as the kids would say.)
What life roles are important to you, simply because they make you feel alive?
Seriously, make a list right now. If all you can come up with are roles that serve other people, dig deeper.
WARNING!!! Beware of having all your important roles tied up in "being a good ______ (friend, daughter, teacher, parent, employee, mentor, etc.) to so-and-so". These relationships can be very fulfilling, but beware of losing yourself in other people. Maybe you are a better person than me, but in my experience, only valuing the roles where you're being a good "someone" to someone else does not make you a good person. On the contrary, it makes you run the risk of becoming a martyr, and it saps the power out of your unique identity.
And the world needs you to be fully, uniquely YOU. Why else do you think you're here? You're not an appendage to someone else, you're not a shell that can be filled with what other people need. You weren't born as an arm or a leg or an eyeball; you were born as a fully thinking-feeling-loving human, with your own soul and your own talents.
You are more than just someone to someone else. You are SOMEONE, period.
Are you a dancer, a closet musician, a karaoke aficionado, or a yogi? Are you a sports fan, a scholar, a foodie, or a rock climber?
These are the roles that will help sustain you, because they are good for the soul... and not just any soul. YOUR soul.
And a healthy soul is mandatory if you're to continue giving and helping in a genuine, loving way.
So go on, my friend. Do your thang. Do you.