Saturday, July 23, 2016

Put Your Mask On First



Place your oxygen mask
on first......


Have you ever been on an airplane and watched a flight attendant, (or now, a video), demonstrate the "oxygen mask procedure"? They always instruct you to place your mask on yourself first before helping anyone else with theirs. Always.  They never say, "Of course this is really selfish of you, but hey, what the heck".  No, they go on to explain even if you are traveling with your own child, you must put your mask on first so you will be able to help them with theirs.

I used to think to myself, "No way! I am going to help my child first." That is until I really understood the logic and the difference between acting selfishly and practicing self care.  

Simply defined, selfish is being concerned only with yourself to the exclusion of others.  Self care is being actively concerned about yourself AND others. In practicing self care we are including ourselves in our list of most important people and others will benefit too. 

Many of us make attending to the needs and wants of others first a way of life. This just comes naturally to us. Like blinking, we may not even realize we are doing it. We may be born caretakers, worriers, controllers or just innately nurturing. There are times this may prove to be harmful to us, in many ways, if we are not taking care of ourselves. 

That is until something happens.  We may have feelings which have been building up for a long time.  Yet, it seems as if all of a sudden, we experience anger, sadness, resentment, anxiety, frustration, feel completely drained and/or become physically ill.  It is only then that we realize we have reached our own breaking point.  We have given so much of ourselves to others but not enough to ourselves.  As a result, now we 'cannot breathe'. Two of the most commonly used terms to describe this crisis state are "caregiver stress" and "burnout".

If we cannot breathe  how much help can we really be to anyone else? We must always remember to put our mask on first so that we can be there for ourselves and others. I came to embrace this way of thinking as not being selfish at all, but rather, participating in my own self care program.

I am a mother, a wife, a sibling, a friend, a volunteer, a blogger and a practicing therapist. I was also the adult child of aging parents, (now deceased), and openly admit I have suffered from caregiver stress in the past.

I have come to understand that to be the best I can be, (at any or all of these roles), I must take care of myself and allow others to help me ,as well.  

Believing in self care is not selfish.  It is the only lasting way to be of service to myself and others.

I hope you will consider putting your mask on first too!
Victoria










Saturday, July 9, 2016

Ruby Slippers - You Have Them Too!


What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.
       ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


One of my favorite movies of all time is The Wizard of Oz. The story encapsulates all the principle elements of what I call Positive Adaptation.

You probably know the story line; a girl named Dorothy finds herself in a situation she neither knows how she got into nor how to get out from. She is told to follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Land of Oz where she will find the "all knowing, all powerful Wizard of Oz". Once there, he will provide the solution to her problem. Sound familiar?

Dorothy heads out on a fantastic journey where she meets three guides. They want to help her find her way home and hope the Wizard can help them too. The Scarecrow wants a brain, (think), Tin Man wants a heart, (feel), and the Lion wants courage, (do). 

The Wicked Witch of the West wants what Dorothy has, the Ruby Slippers. She does everything within her power to get the Ruby Slippers from Dorothy before she can reach the Wizard.  The wicked witch fails and the group returns victorious to Oz, feeling empowered and worthy of the Wizard's help.

Once there, they discover the Wizard is not really a wizard at all, but merely a human being.  Still, he is able to help the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion. He points out, as shown by their own actions, they already possess within them, what is they were searching for. 

And then there is Dorothy; happy for her friends but still not sure how she will get what she wants, to find her way home.

Poof! Glinda, the Good Witch of the North appears and explains to Dorothy that she has also had the ability with her the entire time, represented by the Ruby Slippers. She needed only to know it and to learn how to use them. Remember....click your heals together three times?

Dorothy and her Ruby Slippers remind us that other people can help us but we must not rely solely upon them to 'fix' us or to 'make us' happy.  We need to continue on our own paths using our guides of thinking, feeling and doing.  We must maintain the self  assurance that we already possess within us what it takes to get 'better' and be 'happier' and have the willingness to seek it. 

Try living Positive Adaptation and you too will discover you have your own pair of 'Ruby Slippers'. You can learn how to use them and achieve your own 'hearts desire'