I used to really struggle when it came to putting myself first, though taking care of others came very naturally to me. If I sensed that someone needed something, I quickly prioritized it, putting it above my own needs. I gave and I gave and then I would give even more, often to the point of depleting myself.
As a strong empath, much of my life has been experienced through the feelings of others. Within seconds of being around someone, I know exactly what emotions are processing through them, from the surface layer and all the way down to the most hidden.
At my best, this gift allows for me to be really good at what I do.
At other times, it has created confusion, anxiety, depression, exhaustion and a host of physical ailments.
Society taught me as I grew up to give selflessly while my empathy pushed me to try to manage everyone else’s emotions so that they would feel better. Initially, before I knew how to handle “being sensitive,” I had to numb myself with alcohol and drugs. The world always felt like it was just “too much” for me to handle and so I had to check out in order to manage it.
Once I got sober, learning to care for myself became a fast necessity. Valuing myself as my first priority was one of the most challenging lessons I had to learn, and it’s one that I’ve been working with for years now. Turns out, boundaries and self-care aren’t a one-shot lesson; they roll themselves out over and over again and with each step further into self-love, we extract a new layer to learn from.
For the longest while, it didn’t feel natural to prioritize my own needs, but what I realized was that unless I figured it out and put myself at the top of my own list, I wasn’t going to be good for myself or anyone else.
Even today, my primary impulse is almost always to over give, whether it’s of my time, my space, my knowledge, my heart or my energy. I have had to learn a lot of awareness so that I can step back and assess what areas of my life are pulling a little too hard on me so that I can adjust accordingly. I’ve had to assert myself in ways that have felt uncomfortable and hard so that I can understand my surroundings and the people in my life and find a way to interact with them in the way that best values my wellbeing.
And I’ve had to learn that self-care is non-negotiable. I still catch myself trying to circumnavigate this one at times. I’ll put it off or stick it behind a lists of tasks that I think are more important ~ and I can promise you that when I do this, it never ends well.
But when I am full because I have been nourishing myself and taking care of my own needs, the energy that I extend towards others is much more vibrant and alive. It is full of my own love of self that gets to spill over from a full vessel into the lives of others. It is infused with love and life and respect and honor because that is the energy that created it.
When I am around others who are doing the same thing: What a treat! We get to share in this beautiful exchange of energy that uplifts us both. Our hearts get to meet one another in a space of being self-full and we both are able to experience a richness of connection that is authentic and loving. Truly the best gift I can give to others is the highest version of me and it’s the one that I would like to receive from them as well.
Self-love keeps the soul humming.
What is one thing you can do to nourish yourself today? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!