As the holiday season nears many of us are caught up in the hustle and bustle of a list of to do’s: buy gifts, make gifts, prepare foods, bake cookies, send cards, decorate, run here, run there, pick this up, contact this person, write that letter, wrap gifts, call this person, go to this holiday event – all of these extras besides the rigors of our daily routine.
So often we have expectations that people are going to notice; family members are going to see the extra efforts, people are going to see and honor the “sacrifices” of our efforts; the receiver of the cookies or crafts are going to say, “Wow, look at his/her dedication, talents, energies that went into this for me”…probably not, right? Maybe we as the giver are going to say, “These extra preparations were so much fun; I had a blast doing them; it felt good to create”…that would be great, but probably not, as well for some, right?
Yet, we do it all…we over extend, we have expectations, we repeat the patterns…in hope that maybe this time we are going to have a different experience. On top of the patterns of this season, we also pressure ourselves with the “head knowledge” of “Remember the reason for the season”… “The season is not about giving and getting, it is about celebrating and honoring”… Instead of our head knowledge helping us, in a way it shames (some of us) even more.
One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and others is our own self-care. Jesus Christ, the biblical reason for the celebration of Christmas, modeled self care…He went off to pray and be alone, He celebrated (and did things that were fun), He took time to enjoy the children, He dined with friends, He allowed all feelings to be expressed – he didn’t try to hide them.
Besides celebrating His life, we can learn from His walk and honor our own self-care. Self care is not selfish. I teach people in my therapy practice to ask three questions: 1) What do I want? 2) What do I need? 3) What feels good for me? For many their first response is, “I can’t do that…that is selfish.” When we start to honor who we are from the inside out and honor and meet our own needs, wants and desires, then we come into relationships with less expectation of others needing to meet our needs. We bring to relationships our true self and not just our efforts, “sacrifices”, or agendas (to get something from the relationship). When we take care of our needs then our love overflows to others…and it is natural, given, free…without expectation, judgment, and shame. Self care is anything but selfish; it is one of the greatest gifts we can give from ourselves. Self care says I am worthy because of who I am, not what I do… Remember the song, “Let there be peace on earth”? The second line says, “And let it begin with me.” Not to take away from the intent of the song, but I think that is a good line… “Let peace begin with me” – in me, with me, for me…and then that peace will overflow to all those around us. Blessings this holiday season. Merry Christmas.