My guess is you give a lot of yourself – whether it’s with your children, your spouse/partner, your career, or your social life and community. It feels good to give. It expands our hearts and opens doors of connection. It’s also the first teaching in Buddhism – generosity.
BUT. And here’s the big but of this. We can forget to take care of ourselves, or choose to not take care of ourselves because we believe we don’t have enough time or enough money. Or we subconsciously choose to not take care of ourselves because we feel guilty if we do.
And I’m not talking about the daily’s of life like eating and brushing our teeth, but really taking care of ourselves. Taking time to do the things that truly nourish our heart and soul. For you it may be to spend time in your garden, visit with close friends, go to yoga class, learn a new dance step, go for a walk along the creek, or attend a retreat.
Self-care also means to practice the art of “being” and not “doing” all the time. The more we do, the more we distance ourselves from our center and the peace that is within – I know this from experience. “Being” by the lake, being with friends, being in meditation, or being by the fire where the only goal is to relax.
And what happens when we don’t take care of ourselves on the heart, soul, and physical levels? Here are some symptoms:
- Feeling fatigue or exhaustion
- Irritability and impatience with yourself and those around you
- Depression or feeling “negative” about life
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Feeling under-appreciated
- Feeling like you’ve lost yourself in your work, family, or other commitments
- Feeling resentment toward your family, friends, work, and/or community (really look at this one)
If you can relate to one or more of these symptoms, than stop and take a look at how much you are truly caring and giving back to yourself. How can you give to yourself today? Perhaps it’s buying a journal for yourself. Just the act of shopping for it can bring you joy. Maybe it’s taking a hot bubble bath, or telling your kids you are having “Mommy time” and you do not want to be disturbed for the next 30 minutes.
And let’s talk about guilt. I find it interesting that the word guilt does not exist in the Tibetan language. When the Dalai Lama came to the States and taught, people said that they feel guilty, and after they explained what that meant, he said, “Why do you punish yourself, you are of Buddha nature, you are beautiful, you have done nothing wrong.” Guilt is self-punishment and we can literally make ourselves sick with this emotion.
So take care of yourself “happily” – without guilt, and with complete love. The cost of not doing so is enormous.
Right now make a choice to give to yourself. And part of this giving involves seeing your self-worth. When you give to yourself, you are doing more than just giving to yourself, you are giving back to the world because you gain or regain your energy, passion, creativity, and joy for life that only you can give. That’s how important you are and how important it is to give to yourself!
Categories: Meditation & Mindfulness