These current times can result in you putting YOU last: home-schooling, supporting colleagues, supporting family members who are doing it tough, trying to keep your sh!t together etc.
It creeps up on you—subtly. It gains momentum over weeks and months. Eventually, you realise that your own cup is empty and you feel depleted from love itself. This is an easy cycle to fall into. I have been there many times. Whether it’s an external pressure I believe exists or one I have placed on myself, falling into the trap of always ensuring that others come before me leads to friction.
‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather in humility, value others above yourselves.’ (Philippians 2:3) This was the belief reinforced for me in church, school and my community growing up. It’s an extreme view but when I am in service to people I care about, I stand by it.
Our society has this idea half right. The half that many of us neglect is the ability to be able to do this first for ourselves. And the ability to be able to do this relies on us first BEING love. Like everything in life, however, there is balance required.
It is very hard to give something you don’t have. If you want to give energy, love, mindfulness, kindness, and care and attention to other people you have to learn to give it to yourself.
Marianne Williamson, in her book, In a Return from Love, writes
‘When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you treat him, you will treat yourself. As you think of him, you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him will find yourself or lose yourself .’
Serve you first and you will serve others as a result. It looks like this:
The practice: Serve you first
- Do what you love. It is important to enjoy the work you do and do more of the work you enjoy. Now is the time to get curious about what fills you up. It can be a vocation, a career, a purpose or a point of view. There are some great tools out there to help you gain greater self-awareness and evaluate things in a more pragmatic way. Lisa O’Neill has written a fabulous book called Everything You Want. It will help you to make a start in taking control of your life in a more purposeful way.
- Take care of yourself. This is not just about food and exercise. This is about taking care of your body, mind and soul. Last year, I recorded 66 unique 10-minute meditations for people to practise. They create a pause in your day to slow down your ‘thinking’ mind and rest the nervous system. If you don’t think you have ten minutes a day to do something kind for your mind, then your first step is believing you do.
- Talk to yourself kindly. Self-compassion is first ensuring you talk to yourself like you would a friend. A friend recently introduced me to a fabulous app called ‘I am’. Check it out—it gives you daily affirmations to help with your frame of mind and talking lovingly to yourself.
The practice: Serve others
- Love those you are doing your work for. Get to know the people you serve every day in your vocation, career or purpose. Listen to them, see them and understand them. And see them as a mirror to yourself. Remember, relationships are our assignments.
- Take care of people. Each day when we wake up and go about our stuff, it’s an opportunity to practise basic human qualities like care, kindness and one-on-one attention.
- Talk to them kindly. Treat the people you serve with kindness and remember there is so much to learn from the people we serve. Often, their presence in our lives forces us to grow. They show us our walls and reflect to us the limits to our own capacity to love.
What would love do for YOU today?