This is not a drill

26/6/2013

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This post is part of The Declaration of You’s BlogLovin’ Tour, which I’m thrilled to participate in alongside over 100 other creative bloggers. The Declaration of You, by Michelle Ward and Jessica Swift, (published by North Light Craft Books later this year) gives readers all the permission they’ve craved to step passionately into their lives, discover how they and their gifts are unique and uncover what they are meant to do. Learn all about it – and join in – by clicking here.

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I’ve flown a lot in my life. From about the age of zero, through to now, where my job often takes me to far flung destinations around the globe, I’ve spent enough time in aeroplanes to have heard the safety demonstration – oh I don’t know – about eleventy gazillion times.

Funny though, if you asked me to enact it right now, I would probably put the life jacket on the wrong way around, and forget that my nearest exit may be behind me. But one thing I can and always do recall very well is this: in the event of an emergency, and oxygen masks fall from the unit above your head, please put your own mask on first, before assisting others. And I truly marvel at what sage and wise advice they’re giving, quite possibly without realising it.

Airlines do this of course, because in the event of an emergency cabin decompression, many kind and lovely panicked souls would probably busy their little butts trying to help everyone else around them, and completely forget themselves. And then fall in to a hypoxic heap on the musty cabin floor.

Self care and its importance is so well conveyed by this analogy. Except that life is not a safety demonstration, and we would do well to best heed this advice on a daily basis, not just in the case of an emergency. In our externally-driven and focused world, many of us were never taught how to truly look within our own selves for all the goodness there, nor taught the importance of truly loving and caring for ourselves. Instead we look to others for validation, love, care, and acceptance – but forget to give it first and foremost to ourselves.

Self care

Many of us have also been conditioned to always put others first – that it’s noble for the concerns and needs of others to take primacy in our lives. Self sacrifice and martyrdom – they’re glorified states in many cultures and world religions. But when it becomes your modus operandi in daily life, it’s only a hop-skip and jump away from a lacklustre and depleted you.

Sometimes, if we’re truly honest though, focusing on others can be about distraction from looking within ourselves and doing our own internal work. “Oh look, family member x, and my friends y and z have far greater ‘issues’ than me – I must focus on helping them’. Really? Asking yourself honestly whether you really need to be fretting about others is a valuable exercise in determining whether it could be more about avoiding going within to deal with your own issues – and less about truly helping others. And truly, you do others a disservice if you attempt to show up for them but you’re depleted, exhausted, and haven’t given to yourself first. Fill your well, and when it’s overflowing, you’re in a good position to give to others.

Know Thyself

One of the Delphic maxims of ancient Greece was Know Thyself, which of course can be interpreted in a myriad of ways (which I’m sure is the point). But I encourage you to take this term as you would a little piece of string, and follow where it takes you, deep within. Start perhaps with more surface level stuff – what does your body truly need for nourishment, and wellbeing? Could you up the veggie content in your diet? Drink more water? Less alcohol? More alkalising foods to calm an inflamed body? More superfoods? Are there some allergies you suspect you have, but haven’t pinpointed yet? Start treating your body as the sacred vessel it is, and give it the food it really needs.

Then perhaps take it a step deeper and determine what your soul food is. What do you need for your spirit to feel nourished, excited, and alive? For your heart to sing with glee? Dancing? Yoga? Painting? Big belly laughs? Meditation? Energy work and massage? A meal with a loved one who just ‘gets’ you and there’s no need for pretence? Reading? These are some of mine, but I’m sure you can identify what yours are pretty easily. If not, try and recall what you used to love doing as a child. Write it all down, and make it a ‘go-to’ list weekly.

Next, if your schedule is hectic and involves children, work, and a plethora of commitments that keep you busy from dawn to dusk, and beyond – self care time needs to be scheduled in. It does, darling heart. Perhaps it’s a short time in the morning for meditation, and a cup of tea with a book. And a weekend once a month with a soul-friend at a spa, or out to lunch. Have fun with it! I guarantee even the act of scheduling in a massage or a few hours of down time in your diary will make you feel amazing.

Please note though, when you defer or ignore self nourishment time for yourself, resentment and disenchantment grows within. Maybe imperceptibly each time, but it builds and builds. You’re doing you and your loved ones a big favour by carving out this precious time for yourself to do what you want. Sit down and make dates and times in your diary – synced with whomever else needs to know – and stick to it.

Love Thyself

I would also urge you to start doing a self-love and care exercise which can also be profound and confronting (aka awesome). It’s one suggested by Louise Hay and it’s very simple: look in the mirror at least once a day and say out loud ‘I love you’ (maybe don’t do this in a public bathroom). This is an excellent gauge to see where you’re at internally with your self-love and care barometer. If it makes you feel yucky – you guessed it – the barometer is low and you need some serious refuelling in the self-love and care stakes. If you feel fine, and little rivulets of joy run through you – woohoo! You are on track. Keep up the great work, comrade.

It’s useful for personal growth to watch (and listen to) your reactions when doing this exercise. Write them down, journal about them – explore your feelings about self-love and care – especially if it’s evoking a strong emotional charge for you.

With every step you take towards cultivating a self care routine in your life, I can guarantee the universe will match it and double it (at least). You’ll be amazed at what some small and simple steps in the direction of ‘you’ can do for your life – and for your overall wellbeing. This is your precious life – happening in real time. This is not a drill.

Put your own oxygen mask on first.

 Do you make self care a priority for you? Or do you recognise yourself as the person busying themselves caring for everyone else and forgetting you? I’d love to hear from you below!

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