The generosity of taking care of yourself first

I was talking to a friend recently who was struggling with finding time for himself in the midst of a hectic job and young family. It was an interesting time for him to be pondering this as he was coming to the end of a six week stint when his family was overseas, and he was able to rediscover what it was that helped him to feel energised and vital.

As we were talking we started to wonder about the extremes of the scenario where you were not looking after yourself for the supposed good of those whom you love. Would we be willing to neglect ourselves so much, and give so much of ourselves to others, that we would die for those we are closest to? No, definitely not a sensible approach. 

What about a level of neglect and giving where we made ourselves sick for our most loved ones? Probably not, but that definitely seems to happen.

What about a level of neglect and giving where we were sluggish most of the time, sometimes grumpy, and deprived of feeling our best, all for the good of those we spend most of our time with? Well, yes actually. That is exactly what we are willing and actively do most of the time.

We then speculated about turning this around and instead thinking, what do I need to give myself in order to ensure that I am present and energised with those closest to me as often as possible? Do I need to get away by myself once a year for two weeks of hanging out with my friends? Do I need an hour each day to sit and think, to exercise, to write, without any distractions? Do I need one night per week where I don't have any responsibilities at home, to go to a meet-up, a film, out for dinner, or play with my friends?

I think this is something we can all give ourselves. In many ways it seems selfish, but I think that in taking care of ourselves as best we can, we actually have more to give those we love the most. And this includes offering the same opportunities to our significant other to take care of themselves.