Have you ever felt ALL of your energy and thoughts are directed towards others? If you are a parent, you very likely have. If you are service-oriented and love to help others, this may resonate with you. How about if you adhere to Eastern values, where importance is placed on how you are impacting others? Particularly in the latter case, it is understandable how one might become disconnected from self. In each of these cases, there is a conditioning, whether innate or learned, to serve others needs before one's own. This raises the question: what about self? What about your happiness and needs?
If you are one of those people whose focus is first, and sometimes always, on others, you likely spend little time thinking about yourself or connecting with what you find fulfilling, much less why it fulfills you. If you do, you may have suppressed these thoughts because you feel it is selfish, or perhaps goes against learned values, to think about yourself. IS it selfish to think of yourself, your needs, and what fulfills you? Don't YOU matter?
As human beings, everyone matters. Each person is unique, and has their own talents through which they want to contribute to the world. It is how we live a life of meaning. When we connect with and live our purpose, we feed our soul, we come fully alive, and we thrive. Self-care, focusing on yourself and your needs first, is not selfish, it is purposeful and in service to yourself and others. It is prudent and foundational to good health, overall wellness, and bringing your best self to each day. How can you best serve yourself or others if you do not first take care of yourself? How is discounting or neglecting yourself serving you or anyone else?
In this spirit, I would like to introduce the concept of interdependence. Interdependence is when confident vulnerability is your state of being. In this state, "I serve us, so we can serve others." is your way of being. When we are operating at interdependence, we realize the highest performance, energy, collaboration, and the greatest success. I like to think of it as 1+1 = 11. Yes, it's the new math. The math of abundance, of amplification, of collaboration, of valuing each person's uniqueness, of walking side-by-side another person where both are bringing the best versions of themselves in service to something greater than themselves. It is standing in your confident vulnerability as you do so. It is knowing you do not have to know, do, or be it all, rather just bring and share your talents and your voice, learn, and grow. Someone recently asked me, "So, is it possible to be interdependent and honor one's own needs?" YES...AND.
Interdependence is not an either/or proposition. By definition, interdependence involves we, which includes you (others), and me. Those who always put others first may tend to lose sight of the me part of us/we. On this flight of life, following the "putting the oxygen mask on yourself first before you help others" instructions also applies. Consider the impact if you choose not to attend to your needs. What happens to your energy, enthusiasm, and performance if you do not get enough sleep, exercise, or time for yourself? What might you do to improve your self-care so you can sustain your well-being and show up as your best self everyday?
To all those whose giving nature drives you to serve others first, thank you! You are sharing your special gifts of caring, kindness, and of love for others through your actions. In the spirit of interdependence, I invite you to take a moment to check in with yourself without judgment. Where is your energy, enthusiasm, fulfillment, happiness, and performance? When you pay attention to your needs, you honor yourself not from an ego perspective rather from a lens of caring. When you practice self-care you empower yourself to be at your best. When you are at your best, everyone is better served, including most importantly, YOU.
YOU matter. Everyone matters.