Monday, February 23, 2009

Life Lessons Part 4


"Being loved is not just about giving, it is also about receiving"
-- Anne Hathaway

SECRET # 4

In order to love others, you must first love yourself!

  • The picture of the bee and the flower above reminds me of the symbiotic relationship of love. Just as the bee needs the flower for its pollen to make honey, so the flower needs the bee to pollinate and spread the growth of the flower. Each one needs the other and also offers the other something in return for what it takes.
  • We've all heard the example of the parent flying with a child and the oxygen mask. In the case of a sudden loss of cabin pressure the parent is advised to place their air mask on first, before placing one on the child. This is because the parent needs to be alert and able to help the child, and if they aren't receiving oxygen and lose consciousness, neither the child or the parent has much chance to survive. The child depends on the parent to do the right thing in caring for him. It is really the same with ourselves, though I think those of us with chronic illness sometimes have a hard time seeing it that way - we must first take care of ourselves before we will be able to take care of those we love who depend on us. Sounds very much like 'In order to love others, you must first love yourself' and it leads me back to the quote from above, 'Being loved is not just about giving , it is also about receiving'. Why do we find it so easy to give our love, our time and our precious energy, but we find it so hard to accept that same love, time or energy from others? Worse still, why do we think needing help (or love) makes us weak?
  • At the end of the last lesson I asked you to think about the people and things in your life that make you feel good, I called them your lifelines. I talked about the fact that we all need to feel needed and useful. I want you to create a list of people and of things, whether they are actual items, hobbies, activities or interests that make you feel good, needed and useful. After you have created this list I want you to start finding ways to incorporate these people and things into your life every single day. It doesn't have to be the same person or thing each day, it doesn't have to be for a large block of time, but it has to happen each day.
  • One thing I learned about myself is that since I no longer am able to work I was having a hard time feeling needed, I felt I lacked purpose. I started to volunteer at a local Alzheimer's respite program one day a week for about 4 hours. I LOVED it, and it gave me a sense of purpose, made me realize that I could still help others and filled my spirit. It also took me out of myself and my own problems, my pain and fatigue. Eventually, as my health deteriorated I was unable to keep volunteering because I wasn't able to make it on a regular basis. Instead of feeling defeated or useless, I found another way to make a difference. I contacted a charity and asked what type of help I might be able to provide from home. They were in need of someone to collate and stuff mailings for them. While it isn't fulfilling in the same way, I am doing something that helps others and at the same time I am getting myself out of my own head for awhile. This is just an example, it doesn't have to be volunteer work, it can be a hobby - I like scrapbooking and photography. When I feel particularly bad I enjoy taking out a scrapbook of vacations I have taken or friends and family and looking through it. It reminds me that I DO have better days, I have people who love me and I have had experiences that I enjoy. This gives me power over my illness because I refuse to let it define me, even when I am in a flare and unable to do much of anything.
  • Are you starting to make the connection between loving yourself first before you can give love to others? If I don't allow myself these things I get the feeling that I can't do anything anymore, that I am not worth loving. When I make time to allow myself to see how special I am, I realize that I deserve to be loved. Then I am able to ask for help, if I need to, or simply to enjoy a friends company because I know I am worthy. Because I do this on a regular basis I am able to be loving and supportive with my friends and family. I am not running around on empty with nothing left to give to others, because I fill up daily by loving myself first. It isn't about being selfish, it is about realizing that I matter enough to take care of myself. We looked at making a self - care plan in the first lesson, but that dealt with more practical things like laundry, cooking, shopping and house cleaning. This type of plan deals with things that are equally important but tend to get pushed to the back burner.



1 comment:

tiglizzyclone said...

I think we are taught the self love is somehow evil. Interesting reading.