When you are in the caregiving field it’s hard to NOT take on the role of the martyr. Even if you don’t seek it out, people will force that title onto you. How many times have you been told, “You’re a better person than I, I couldn’t do what you do.” Eh, maybe and maybe not. Many movies depict social workers, nurses, teachers etc. as selfless do-gooders. There are also plenty of movies where these same careers are depicted horribly. But overall, the general consensus is we are selfless givers.
Well I call bullshit.
I think that notion is so damaging to the fields we work in, to the people in those professions, and to the people we are serving. I’ve said this before, but I feel it needs repeating. Don’t fall into this trap. While I 100% believe that you have a good heart, I also believe that if you take on the role of a martyr, you may become someone you don’t like, someone others don’t like to be around, or lose sight of who you really are. Keep your cup full! There are loads of quotes calling us all out on this.
“You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.”
“Put yourself at the top of your to-d0 list every single day and the rest will fall into place.”
“Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have.”
“I have come to believe that caring for my self is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival. -Audre Lorde
I understand that for many of us we are so afraid of appearing selfish, that we suffer at our own expense and at the expense of others. I stumbled upon a blog of a life coach who so exquisitely describes the difference between being selfish vs. practicing self care. (You can find her blog at http://www.kellyruta.com) I pulled these two definitions from her blog. I was so impressed with her carefully chosen words:
1. Selfish is choosing to consistently only think of your own needs and wants. Selfishness never yields joy, peace or love. It creates an internal and external experience of isolation and loneliness. It does not create the ability to share, nurture or serve.
2. Self Care is choosing to honor your inner wants and needs in order to fulfill your potential, discover your purpose and experience joy. Sometimes that requires putting yourself ahead of someone else. Self care allows for more sharing and nurturing because there is plenty to give without being depleted or exhausted. Self care allows you to serve others well because you have acknowledged your own worth and cultivated ways to fill and refill your well.
Pour from a FULL cup y’all!
Take care of YOU.