The more I work with people and try and understand how they got to where they are currently with their health challenges; the more I realize most unhealthy people suffer from putting themselves last. I see this in parents, caregivers, health professionals the most; however, it is prevalent with everyone to some extent.
Just recently I had a patient who had been caregiving for her loved ones until their death, and at that point her own health gave out and she was left in a bad place. I told her she needs to take care of herself as well as she took care of her loved ones. She told me she could not do that. It was too hard… She was not important enough… She could not be her own best friend. How does this happen? Why is is so hard to love ourselves? Do we expect others to do it for us?
Maybe we just lack good role models. There is only one industry where I have seen it encouraged to put yourself first before helping others and that is in the case of an emergency when you are on a plane. You are to put your own oxygen mask on before putting on the one for your child or loved ones.
I definitely do not see a put yourself first sort of perspective in the healthcare industry. There it is common for doctors and nurses to work 12 hours, sometimes without a break or a lunch. Healthcare providers are “encouraged” to sacrifice themselves for the betterment of others. It is definitely an oxymoron to me and never made much sense. I fought it constantly because my body was not strong enough at the time to handle being uncared for. Once I started feeling bad I had a very difficult time holding a compassionate space for those I was trying to help. I found I had to take care of myself first which made me a black sheep in the medical industry where I resided as a Physical Therapist.
How do you increase your own self love so that you can better take care of yourself and heal? What do you need to do to show yourself some self-love? I know Valentines day is all about expressing love and compassion to others; however, don’t forget about yourself. When you find yourself skipping a lunch, not taking care of yourself, putting everyone first before yourself… I want you to to think about something at that moment. If your best friend were doing that very same thing what would you tell them? Say it out-loud… say it to yourself. Show yourself the love you show to those you care about the most.
It is exceptionally important that you take care of yourself as you heal your body from pain. Love yourself so that you can let go of your pain today!