Recently I had a discussion about helping others with someone who thought I was helping others more than I was helping myself. “Take a break and focus on yourself,” this person said. I know s/he was trying to be helpful but it somehow didn’t sit well with it. Yes, I admit that I used to be that person who neglected my own needs and went around helping others. But I feel like this new self-love wave that has infiltrated our mind space and seems to be the latest self-help mantra can be misleading at times.
Self-love doesn’t mean just focusing on yourself and neglecting everyone else. It means giving yourself as much importance as you give to others in your life. Spending as much time on yourself and your needs as you spend in fulfilling others’ needs. It really is about finding a balance and including yourself in your equation of loving and giving. It is also about saying no to someone who needs your help, especially when you feel overwhelmed and need to focus on yourself.
What I have found is that when I water and tend to my own needs, I have more energy to take care of others and I do it with joy. I don’t feel resentful because I neglected myself to give time or energy to someone else. Nor do I feel obliged to do something just because that’s what people expect from me. This really is a game changer. Operating and helping from a place of joy is so much more empowering.
I don’t just help others, I also do healing sessions and what I have observed is that as I do sessions for others and allow the healing energy to pass through me, I too benefit as much as the person receiving the healing. In the end we are all connected and what we do to or for others we do to ourselves.
Imagine we are all in an airplane and there is some turbulence. The oxygen masks are hanging in front of us. We are told to put on our masks and then help others. You are in a dangerous situation. Self-help dictates that you deal with your problems before you help others. But in this case the problem isn’t resolved. You are still in the midst of it and so is everyone else.
That’s how I perceive the world situation, especially last year. We may not all be in the same airplane. Some of us are not even in planes. Some of us are in drowning boats or buried under debris or caught in a hurricane. It doesn’t matter. We are all connected and we all could use a helping hand. Self-love is also about seeing the intricate web that connects all of us. It is about realizing that we are not alone and not to always rely on ourselves. It’s OK to ask for help and support. To learn to support and feel supported even when things aren’t going that great. It is about balancing giving and receiving so we can lift and walk each other to a better destination than where we find ourselves.
Another powerful lesson to learn is that sometimes self-love is not enough. You need people and their expertise to get you through some of the storms in your life. Self-love is not about being obstinately independent. You miss out on the gifts of collaboration and the unique perspectives and solutions that someone else can offer you.
In the end, it’s all about balancing the two. It may look different for different people and there is no magic formula that can be applied universally to all of us. Whether you are filling up your own cup or supporting someone else through a calamity, it is important to check in often and see how you feel and what your energy levels are. If you feel drained, stop and focus on yourself. Cut back on helping others for a while and when your energy levels have been replenished you can go back to it.
Again this is my perspective. It’s not everyone’s purpose to help or heal. But if you have ever struggled to strike a balance between helping yourself and others this post may help you.