I feel like I should clarify something with you all this week. I think there’s been some confusion about what I’m trying to share along my journey and I want to lay it out here and clear the air.
Last week, I talked about the art of self care and being kinder to myself, but perhaps in my eagerness to express the need to care for oneself, I failed to share the bigger picture. Life, as you well know, is about balance. It’s the giving and taking, the ups and downs, good and bad – and I believe there are times in life where we should absolutely be selfless and focus our energy on the needs of others. Focusing on others distracts us from our own problems and sometimes that’s a very good thing. When we put our friends and strangers first, it simply feels good. Plus it’s biblical, to love others as we love ourselves.
Perhaps that’s what I neglected to express last week. Yes, it’s absolutely necessary and, I believe, our duty as humans to be selfless. No, it’s not required every moment of every day of our lives. This is something I’ve been wrestling with inside as I try to improve my mental state for the long run. As a child, church always taught me to put others first, that I’m less important and my needs aren’t as urgent as everyone else’s. At least, that was always the impression that was given in sunday school and youth group.
So you can imagine it’s hard as an adult to accept that I need to also look after myself. It seems selfish, rude, insensitive to the needs of those around me. But it’s also necessary. Some parts of my life (namely my mental health) are in the ‘down’ season and if I were to be completely honest, I believe it came from years and years of giving and giving, caring more about everyone else, doing as everyone else wanted, pleasing others, etc. I somehow lost myself in it, gave so much, that I burnt out. I simply just wasn’t receiving what I needed in order to keep giving as was necessary.
These days, I am simply sharing about my ups and downs of life, and this includes discovering ways of looking after myself a little bit for once. You know, I’ve been seeing a therapist to work through this sort of messed up, people-pleasing, selfless-ing mentality. Not that that mentality is bad – it ISN’T. At. All. Please understand what I’m trying to say, it’s only bad when you give so much that you don’t look after yourself in the process.
This part of my journey is about taking time to care for my mental health. To ease up on how harsh I am to myself, to stop being so critical and judgemental for having to back off. I honestly believe it’s not a sin, or being “less of a believer”, to do so. I’ve been receiving some criticism for this mentality, but I’m not apologising for it. I think that by stepping back for a season of life to look after my mind, body and soul, I will be able to ‘come back’ stronger and more able to be the caring and nurturing person to others that I want to be. Part of me expects everyone to understand where I’m at, but I suppose it’s unreasonable.
I truly hope you understand, however, that I’m not promoting this selfish mentality, or ignoring the needs of those around us. I am simply expressing where I’m at, hoping to encourage my dear friends who are also struggling that it’s okay to take care of yourselves too. It really is. You don’t have to beat yourself up for it, you don’t have to feel guilty or punish yourself for not keeping up the pretence anymore. It really is okay to not be okay for a while. Don’t stay there forever, but stay in that place long enough to bounce back stronger.
Love you all xx