Intellectually, we know that we can only take care of others if we first take care of ourselves. So why do we feel guilty when we do things to care for ourselves? And why is it so hard to be consistent with our self-care practices? Is your current self-care practice giving you what you need, or is there room for improvement?
As someone who always took care of others before taking care of herself—who was heavier, unhealthy, and drained all the time—I can tell you this for sure:
You cannot live as the Beacon you were born to be, bringing light to the world, unless you engage in radical self-care.
Let me tell you one of my favorite stories from Wayne Dyer about an orange. Perhaps you know his story about the orange. I’m not sure if he was thinking about self-care when he told it, but I think his story can teach us a lot about caring for ourselves.
One time when giving a talk, Wayne Dyer brought an orange with him to the stage and opened a conversation with a bright young fellow of about twelve who was sitting in the front row.
“If I were to squeeze this orange as hard as I could, what would come out?” Dyer asked.
The boy looked at him like he was crazy and said, “Juice, of course.”
“Do you think apple juice could come out of it?”
‘No!” the boy laughed.
“What about grapefruit juice?”
“What would come out of it?”
“Orange juice, of course.”
“Why? Why, when you squeeze an orange, does orange juice come out?”
“Well, it’s an orange, and that’s what’s inside.”
Dyer nodded and addressed the audience. “Let’s assume that this orange is you. And someone squeezes you, puts pressure on you, says something you don’t like, or offends you. And out of you comes anger, hatred, bitterness, fear. Why? The answer, as our young friend has told us, is because that’s what’s inside.”
“It’s one of the great lessons of life,” Dyer said. “It doesn’t matter who does the squeezing–your mother, your brother, your children, your boss, the government. If someone says something about you that you don’t like, what comes out of you is what’s inside. And what’s inside is up to you. It’s your choice.”
When we feel pressured or stressed, and we no longer react with love, that’s an indication to us that something is off. It’s time for balance. When what comes out of us is anything other than love, it’s a message for us to remember self-care.
- Note to self: When stress makes you disconnect from love, get honest, evaluate, and correct.
Many of us are natural givers. If you are an empath like me, you allow other people’s energy to drastically affect your life. You are often drained.
Emotionally drained, physically exhausted, spiritually depleted—these are the symptoms of an unempowered empath.
- Note to self: When negativity affects you, and you feel like a squeezed orange, it’s time to accept responsibility for upgrading your self-care practice.
Here’s an important question for you, Beacon: Do you ever feel guilty when taking care of yourself?
Many women, even those who are doing the inner work, still feel selfish and guilty about caring for themselves.
If you tend to play the “self-guilt” game, watch this video I created and learn why everyone wins when you practice self-care.
Going back to Wayne Dyer’s orange story, here is my point: When we make self-care a priority and release the guilt around caring for ourselves, we are more rested, calm, and loving. The “juice” that will come out when we’re squeezed will reflect those loving and centered qualities.
- Note to self: Caring for yourself is not selfish. Caring for yourself is your sacred responsibility.
Here’s another important question for you, Beacon: Is there a blessing to feeling depleted?
Before you say no, think for a minute. I’ve learned the hard way how important it is to turn challenges into opportunities. There actually IS a spiritual blessing to feeling depleted. I wrote more about it in this article, “When You Feel That You Have Nothing Else to Give.”
- Note to self: When you feel that you have nothing else to give, look for the spiritual opportunity and turn things around.
Once you give yourself permission for self-care, the rest is easier.
Isn’t it true that you know exactly what to do to take care of yoruself?
Isn’t it true that you can teach others how to take better care of themselves too?
We all know what to do. We just don’t do it.
That’s why evaluating your current practicess is so important. Give yourself permission to love yourself first, and then evaluating and correcting your self-care practice is an easier process.
Let’s use Wayne Dyer’s orange story as a reminder about self-care.
Next time you have an orange, squeeze it a little bit and remember to take better care of yourself, no matter what.