How many times have you heard the oxygen mask analogy? For me, so many that it has pretty much lost its ability to make any impact. Yeah yeah I know, put my oxygen mask on first so I can care for those who need me. We know this by now, especially as women, don’t we? Then why aren’t we doing it? In my experience, particularly since working with women in our Commit to 5K program, I have yet to meet a woman who has mastered this. In fact, most are suffering to some degree from the inability to practice self-care. The analogy of the airplane oxygen mask has been so overused because it is so logical, don’t you think? Of course you would take care of yourself first so that you don’t lose your ability to then save those that you love. It may be logical but it feels counter intuitive. I can mainly speak for women because I am one and I spend a majority of my time as a coach talking with women. It feels counter intuitive, in my opinion, because we feel the right thing to do is sacrifice ourselves to care for our loved ones.
What I would like to put forth is that it goes even deeper because not only are we not able to care for those we love when we don’t practice self-care, but we also engage in the practice of self-rejection which fundamentally separates us from our Source of Life…God. Once we have separated ourselves from God, we feel we are responsible for everything and work ourselves crazy trying to be perfect and meet everyone’s needs while we shame and guilt ourselves for falling short. Then we push ourselves harder to do even more for those who need us while giving ourselves nothing only to continually feel that we aren’t doing enough. Oh, it’s exhausting just thinking about it. It’s a trap your small self or ego sets to keep you separated from your true Self.
Practicing self-care is not a luxury that we earn one day after we’ve given ourselves away in doing what we think a good wife, mother, employee, business owner, daughter, etc. does. The idea being that one day we’ll get to take care of ourselves when we’ve paid our dues. There are no dues to be paid. It’s time to love ourselves the way God loves us, to realize that we have a Universe at our disposal that can orchestrate all manner of help on our behalf to get things done if we have created the environment within which matches that vibration. Self-care reminds us of our true nature as a piece of the Divine connected to the Divine always. We just forget this very important piece of information. Self-care is that time we take to meditate, feed our souls with nourishment, relax our bodies and minds so that fresh and creative ideas can flow through us, indulge our senses and show ourselves kindness and love and attention. We take time to do this regularly and we are better able to stay in the inner space of remembrance of our Divine nature. Where what we do in the world flows THROUGH us and then our care of others is easy and joyous and comes from the overflow. We don’t feel depleted and stressed and chaotic.
I heard a woman say, “there’s no room in my life for me.” It was such a powerful statement. It is imperative that we make room in our lives for us and what that looks like will be unique to you. It may mean a daily meditative practice, a regular massage, quality time with a friend, date night with your spouse, a regular exercise routine, or a periodic day off from work to do anything you’d like. Whatever self-care looks like for you, just remember that self-care is not an indulgence or a reward. It is a foundation on which to firmly set yourself in order to give your gifts more freely. We all need you to take care of yourself, so do it for us.