Between my therapy practice and my day to day life, I hear so often how common it is to strive to be better. To be a better mom, dad, sibling, student, teacher, employee, spouse, etc. We live in a world of comparison, where we are constantly exposed to snapshots into the lives of others, often making us feel less than sufficient at our own roles in our lives.
Despite how things appear via social media, most people do not have it all together, no matter how blissful they may seem. Yes there are beautiful moments, but there are also less than perfect blunders along the way. We never really know what goes on behind closed doors, yet we constantly compare ourselves to others and decide that they are doing life better than we are.
With that being said, lets take a dive even deeper into this search for life improvement. Because if you really want to be a better parent, spouse, or employee, you must first be a better you. And that means taking care of yourself on a regular basis.
As cliche as it is, the airplane analogy seems to really hit home for my clients when we explore this idea together. At the beginning of every flight, they tell us that in case of an emergency it is crucial that you put the oxygen mask on yourself first, before helping those around you. While the parents in the bunch often roll their eyes and know in their hearts that they would always help their children before themselves, the key here is not to be missed. Because as much as a decision like that is made with only the best of intentions, if you pass out before you can get to your loved one to help them it defeats the purpose.
In order to be better to your loved ones you must first be better to yourself. Self-care and self-love fill up your cup so that you have something to give. If you are constantly emptying your cup for others, you will have nothing left for them without a period of refreshing and refilling. So what can you do to fill up your cup?
1. Schedule time for you. This will look different for everyone. For some it may mean taking a mini cat nap while for others it may mean a day off of work. Do something you enjoy even for 5 minutes at a time. Regardless of what that looks like for you, make the time for yourself.
2. See a therapist regularly. I have to admit that as a therapist I am a bit biased as to the value of therapy. But in all honesty, it is one of the only, if not the only place where you have skilled support directly focused on you and you alone. Therapy is a sacred place where you matter and can receive unconditional, objective support.
3. Have a daily check-in. Ask yourself every night before you go to sleep how you are feeling about the day you just had. Ask yourself... What are the things I am most happy about right now? What are my struggles? How can I be better to myself tomorrow? What kind of support do I need?
4. Ask for help when you need it. This is a tough one for many people. We as a society have become so focused on the idea of "pulling yourself up by your bootstraps." While there is something to be said for that mentality, it is human nature to be driven by social support. Work through your feelings about asking for help and realize that you are stronger for it.
5. Allow yourself to feel without judgement. So often we stuff our feelings down because we are taught to only present our best selves to the world around us. When in reality, the more we sweep our emotions under the rug, the more power they have over us. Give yourself permission to feel. Let go of the judgement and embrace the emotions. They will pass sooner if you allow them to flow.
Which one resonates most with you for today? Take time to pick at least one of the above suggestions and put it into action. Your loved ones will thank you.
Until next time,