Who comes first in your world?
You’ve heard the warning on the airplane – put your oxygen mask on first before you reach out to help someone else. Seems obvious, right?
Why are we reminded of this every single time we fly? I think it’s because, especially for women, it’s easier to care for others first. That’s our default.
Our children and loved ones receive our full attention, even when they’re perfectly capable adults. Our spouse or partner’s needs often come first because, hey, you love them and that’s how you demonstrate it.
This is the nurturing aspect of a woman’s biology in action. We’re wired for it. That nurturing nature is not wrong, and you are not wrong for caring. Your love is appreciated.
But here’s the deal. If the person you care about, no matter what the circumstances, begins to occupy your mind exclusively, that’s usually a sign that your own self-care is suffering.
Caring for yourself last serves no one. No one.
Water your own roots
As I was watering my houseplants this morning, I realized the biggest threat to my green friends is my furry friends. My cats find greenery with big flappy leaves completely irresistible. The result can be a plant upside down on the carpet, broken apart.
This has happened many times and I’ve learned that with quick action, those broken stems can be salvaged. The cats are propagating my plants for me!
While watering one repotted victim of cat play, I noticed that the greenery hadn’t grown much. It’s beautiful and healthy, but not very big.
Then I looked closer. The flower pot where I had hastily planted the broken stems was tall and quite roomy. There is plenty of space for the roots to grow deep.
And that’s what I believe is happening – the roots are growing first. I won’t see appreciable growth in the greenery until the root structure is settled and strong. Flower buds form and blossom with a good root system.
Gaze up at a tree sometime and see how tall and full it is. That’s a reflection of the size of the root system. As tall as a tree is, that’s generally how far down the roots grow. Root systems matter.
It’s the same with you.
Your life is a reflection of your root system. If you’re not exercising, your health suffers. If you’re not saving a portion of your income, your security suffers. If you’re not spending time in reflection, your spiritual life suffers. These things water your roots.
When your self-care muscles are strong, you then have the infrastructure to be strong for others.
Prioritize care of your body, of your financial needs, and of your spirit. Devote time to watering your own roots first.
Only then do you have a strong root system and can flourish in your own skin. Only then can you fully nurture someone else.