From self-sacrifice to self-care

By the time the baseball size tumor was found in my grandmother’s abdomen, it had spread throughout her system. Months before she had quietly reported discomfort to her doctor but when the hospital phoned to book her in, she sent her husband for a check up instead.

This is a dramatic, but true story of how women for millennia have struggled to express their needs. Although the necessity for self care is widely discussed in female circles today, it continues to battle for first place with its opponent, self-sacrifice.

During my first intensive yoga program in India, I found myself purging physical toxins as well as emotional pain from my past conditioning. One of the beliefs I had inherited, which had provided me with a fairly constant stream of misery in my relations, was the belief that I had no right to speak my needs. I was taught to be pleasant and polite, meet others needs first and if there’s anything left over, I could toss a little nurturing my way.

When I became aware of this insidiously self-destructive belief, I was able to dismantle it and choose more life affirming ways of being.

One of my favorite parenting books on the market right now is Raising Happiness by Christine Carter. She poignantly advises parents to ‘put our own oxygen mask on first’, to take care of ourselves first before attempting to serve others.

If we give from our deficit, we will surely end up ill, depressed, cranky or all of the above. On the other hand, when we give from our overflow, we will be more likely to maintain emotional balance, vitality and joy for life.

I am not advising that you shirk your work responsibilities and neglect your family. But I do invite you to search for moments during your day, where you might be able to steal some time for self care. It may not require much, but at the end of the day, it means more fuel in your tank.

You’ll know these extra moments of self care are working when you catch yourself smiling more often and giving more freely, from your overflow.



The photo is of my mom, my babe and me at Kripalu where we enjoyed some R&R.