What's your self-care model?By Linda Emslie on 7 February 2017
I recently spent time in Perth giving my eldest daughter a much-needed helping hand. She’d gotten herself into a place of mental isolation and uncertainty stemming from prolonged and intense physical, mental and emotional work.
Simply put, she was exhausted to the point of burnout, had not given herself enough recovery time, and had thrown herself back in to preparations for her final year of study feeling totally overwhelmed and inadequate.
As I packed my bags I found my thoughts circling around concern for my oldest daughter and noting the difference between her situation and my next eldest, who at this stage of her life, is firmly and very comfortably entrenched in the self-centred world of the mature teenager. I found myself wondering how my oldest girl, who had occupied that space only two short years ago, had transitioned from that scenario to her current picture of burnout.
We often lament the selfishness displayed by our teenage children. They can seem to be completely unaware of and unconcerned by the needs of other family members. They happily live their lives for themselves, touching down to refuel when it suits them and grudgingly doing the few minor chores they’ve been allocated. Well, that is how it seems.
The two pictures, the one of daughter A and that of daughter B are currently polar opposites.
How on earth did I fail to teach my oldest girl to take proper care of herself? How did she fall from carefree and careless to ground-down to the point of breaking?
It occurred to me, that what I was witnessing in her was what I experienced myself as a young woman stepping out in to the world. She was repeating my steps! Oh. My. God! That totally selfless throwing myself out there to achieve my dream; get started; nothing else matters but getting this bit finished so I can start living my dream; whirlpool that eventually drags you under when you’ve completely run out of steam.
As a young child, my daughter had seen me putting everything else first. Mothering her and her sister, working too hard at a job I detested, getting all the domestic stuff done so she had a comfortable life; and throwing in the occasional gym session as a token gesture to self-care!
No wonder she paid no attention when her body, mind and Soul were giving her signals. She had seen me ignore mine, to “get things done; to move us forward; to bring me closer to my dream (which it didn’t, by the way)”.
So it didn’t matter that I had talked with her, shared ideas and recipes, asked about routines and study loads and offered whatever support I could give; she had clearly learnt the lesson that the only way through this part of her life was to ignore her needs and just keep going.
It wasn’t until I was in my early 40s that I finally understood the concept that putting yourself last does no-one any favours; least of all yourself. It took the wisdom, and at times very direct words, of my Reiki teacher to really help me grasp this concept not just intellectually, but viscerally: in the deepest parts of my physical and emotional bodies.
So, let me ask you, what picture of self-care are you modelling for your daughters?
If you’re not happy with the answer to that question, here are three concrete steps you can take to ensure the self-care attributes you model are the ones you’d love your daughters to embody.
- Change your perspective, put yourself at the centre of your world and let everything flow from there. I’ve put together an Extreme Self-care Guidance Wheel to help with this exercise. You can access a copy here.
- Remember you are worthy. You are so worthy. In fact, your value is immeasurable. You are here right now because whatever it is you bring is desperately needed by humankind and Mother Earth. Remember that and make yourself number 1 in your own eyes. Not sure why you're here? Here’s a quick exercise to help you start getting clarity on that question.
- Be in love. Open your heart to love. Love yourself, love your partner, love your children. Surround yourself and them with all the love in the world. Because you are loved. Always and completely. Love starts with you, here is a gentle exercise to help you.