“Take care of yourself as much as you want to be taken care of.”
S. Kim Henson
“You have taken ‘taking care of yourself’ too far,” he said.
If you’re like me, this kind of accusation can wreck a week.
It can happen even when we have a plan – one so important we think nothing can make us stumble. Before the wreckage, we’re stirred and determined. From now on, we’ll take 20,000 steps daily, eat chia seeds on everything, pay off all debt. We’ll go to the gym four times a week, write 500 words a day, and learn to knit and paint.
For a moment, we have boundless energy. Our lives seem all about us and what we want to accomplish. Until we let “thinking we’re selfish” derail us …
Chaos calls and we should help.
A loved one disagrees, so we shouldn’t do it.
His or her ideas supersede ours and we let them.
We deflate and so do our plans.
Even during my teen years (when we’re expected to be selfish), I didn’t do what I wanted. I turned down a motorcycle ride with the cute guy because Dad witnessed a fatal motorcycle accident. I stayed home from spend-the-night parties if I thought boys might drop by because of Mom’s fears. I didn’t cut school to go to lunch with friends for fear of getting caught and disappointing my parents.
People pleasing seemed an unshakable flaw. Whatever I did at home and work, I did because I thought someone else wanted me to do it. On the other hand, if you didn’t like it, I didn’t do it.
I’ve been stirred and determined for a while now to prioritize self-care. About the time I asserted myself, I was told I was taking it “too far.” My thoughts went to failure, I’ll never take care of myself without feeling wrong and selfish. It’s too hard.
I remembered what a friend said, “Just because they don’t like it doesn’t mean you’re wrong. You can do it anyway.”
The first time I heard “do it anyway,” it sounded like treason.
This time around, it sounded like freedom.
“You’re going to have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” she said.
Since there will be push back from people at home, people at work, people in the church, and voices in our heads, how do we figure out if it’s discomfort or if we’ve crossed the line to selfishness?
I wonder if it’s even possible for someone like us (people who worry about being selfish) to take “taking care of ourselves” too far. It’s like a conversation I heard between a newcomer in recovery and a seasoned member. The newcomer said, “It scares me to let go of others and take care of myself. I’m afraid I’ll be selfish and let go too much.”
The fellow she was talking with looked amused, I think because he knew there was little chance she’d be selfish. He said, “Why don’t you give ‘taking care of yourself’ a try. You’ll know if you’re taking it too far.”
In other words, if you’re worried about taking “taking care of yourself” too far, you probably won’t.
In This Together,
Thanks so much for permission to use your photography, Rhonda Hensley. This probably wasn’t one you expected to see on my blog, but it fits the post perfectly. To see more of Rhonda’s photography, go to her Facebook page by clicking Inspiration Images and Media.
Thank you for the pencil sketch, Abigail Sawyer. Abby is a 16-year-old homeschooler and a self-taught artist whose family realized her talent when she took a painting class. She hopes to attend art school and draw for Disney. To see more of Abby’s artwork, check her out on Instagram @abigails_art13.