Relating to Ourselves: Putting Self First – Part I

This New Year 2017 is off to a swift and catalyzing start! We thought this re-blog, Relating to Ourselves, is timely and may it be a helpful nudge towards remembering to honor ourselves and our own need to act from a personal state of integrity. Join us as we reflect back to Andrea’s original blog written in 2012.

by Andrea Chilcote

This post is the first of a three-part series entitled Relating to Ourselves. This segment deals with honoring yourself first in order to build capacity for helping others.

self-care_relating-to-ourselves-rev5

Lately it seems I have less time and more demands on that precious time. Sound familiar? When I recently shared this lament with a trusted confidant, she asked me to do something that on the surface sounded simple. Her request? “State the following, then tell me how it feels to you: ‘I am the most important person in my life right now.’”

Well, it felt incongruent. Even though I believe that unless I care for myself first I cannot possibly care for important others in my life, I sure did not feel it in the midst of my all-too-busy day.

Many women tend to be healers – we’re the gender more often charged with care-giving. (This is not intended as a criticism of the many care-giving men out there who are natural nurturers – it’s simply a fact that women usually assume the role more explicitly).

So my friend’s question sparked thoughts about the great equilibrium of giving and receiving. It can be out of balance literally, or in our heads. Rejuvenating activities, gratitude or compliments from those we love, as well as simple acts of kindness shown to us, all produce healing energy. Are we allowing enough of that in our lives?

‘Am I the most important person in my life right now?’

Consider the literal examples. We can starve ourselves by constantly doing for others, never taking the time to replenish in whatever way creates true enjoyment. We can surround ourselves with people who take only (energy vampires, as Dr. Judith Orloff describes them), rather than spend time with people who know the beautiful dance of give and take. If you are one of these givers, you probably recognize the toll it takes on you, and, most likely, the things that you seek – acceptance, purpose, love – are elusive.

More insidious is the type that is made up in our minds. In this scenario we do a lot and are offered a lot, but – we don’t notice what’s coming back to us because our mental drive is so focused on the next task. I get caught in this mind trap often.

I am blessed with a loving husband as well as friends, clients and animal companions who give me as much or more than I give out. But often I miss these precious gifts because the to-do lists in my brain trick me into believing I have no time for them.

re-focus_relating-to-ourselves-revThe affirmation offered by my friend – “I am the most important person in my life right now” – was profound. Once I made that statement, I was forced to re-focus on the present moment. What I was doing did not change, but the way I did it changed significantly. I came back alive, appreciating the small and
beautiful give and take in the interactions of life.

As I moved through the next several days, I did, as usual, a great deal for others. What I provide the people and animals I love brings me great joy. And I en-joy that work when I come from a place of integrity in myself and my capacity.

So, take the challenge given to me.

Can you love yourself enough to care for those you love?

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Self-Care – Inspiration from New Year’s 2014

Andrea Chilcoteby Andrea Chilcote

I gave up “resolutions” some time ago because they’re often short-lived should-do’s that lack inspiration.

One of the many reasons resolutions don’t work is that they seem to set us up for either perfection or failure. When we fail (skipping the gym, eating the French fries) – why bother tomorrow?

For me, the key factor is that word “inspiration.” What inspires me in this new year of 2014? The advice I offered in last week’s post: Care for yourself first, if you wish to give to others.

I’m finally serious about this, and I’m not finding it easy. But this time, I’m reframing “failures” as small learning experiences. An example: On Monday morning, the amount of to-do’s before a trip challenged my usual gentle approach to structure. I made a list of nine items, then prioritized it. The latter step was important, given that I likely had less time than tasks. Guess what I noticed? The one thing “for me” on the list was #9. Interesting. I moved it up.

Andrea ChilcoteThis small realization has led to daily (and sometimes hourly) assessments about what I need. And, it’s not a selfish practice – far from it. I’ve finally (at age 52), decided it’s impossible for me to contribute what I wish to contribute in this world if I do not have the things I need to sustain my energy. In 2013, the scale was unbalanced. It will be different in 2014.

You are nurturing, caring, and giving beings. Is the scale in balance?

Self-care is possessing enough self-awareness to invoke repeated patterns of being that harmoniously correct the behaviors of over-functioning for others while under-functioning for yourself.”
― LaShaun Middlebrooks Collier


This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a blogger. Enjoy it!

My Connection Timed Out

woman-frazzledby Andrea Chilcote

Last spring, I blogged about how confounding technology difficulties were metaphors for life. In keeping with my theme this new year, I am sharing about how my connection timed out – another prompt for self-care. Are you taking time to “smell the roses” before your connection times out?

April 2013—This week we have seen the perfect storm in our three-person office. Two new computers with Windows 8 (I liken that to learning an ancient foreign language if you have not yet experienced it), an ill-fated email server conversion, an “upgrade” by our internet service provider — and much to do that is dependent on technology. I won’t mention the common printer jams and such (oh, I guess I just did).

“Your settings are not holding.”

“We are experiencing password failures.”

“Access denied. You do not have administrative privileges.”

“Your connection has timed out.”

I came to wonder if the confounding pre-programmed messages from our technology providers were nothing more than metaphors for life. And then I got the one-day flu.

That’s not a joke. This week I managed to squeeze into 24 hours, chills, fever, severe body aches and even a cough. It came and then it vanished. I know that’s odd, but it’s what happened. The message was confirmed — my connection had timed out.

I often advocate self-care. It’s usually a reminder to myself as much as it is a message for you. Lately, I have been tipping the scales in the wrong direction, and I got a warning sign. Fortunately my psyche as well as my immune system were aligned and I received just that — a warning.

The minor annoyances of life and work can conspire to produce real stress. Yet when we lose touch with the reality of what they really are (annoyances), and connect with them in a way that allows them to expand into something they’re not (real problems), life has a way of re-setting the controls.

Today I learned of a friend who lost her beloved mother. She wrote that when life became a whirlwind for her, her mom encouraged her to “stop and smell the roses.” That was good advice.

If your connection with things beyond your control has “timed-out,” take a breath and consider what’s worth your precious energy. Connect with someone you love, with nature, with art, music or any passion you hold. It will give you the stamina to deal with those computer messages, and it just might prevent the flu.

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The post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger.

Relating to OurSelves – Putting Self First

Putting Self Firstby Andrea Chilcote

This post is the first of a three-part series entitled “Relating to OurSelves.” This segment deals with honoring yourself first in order to build capacity for helping others.

Lately it seems I have less time and more demands on that precious time. Sound familiar? When I recently shared this lament with a trusted confidant, she asked me to do something that on the surface sounded simple. Her request? “State the following, then tell me how it feels to you: ‘I am the most important person in my life right now.’”

Well, it felt incongruent. Even though I believe that unless I care for myself first I cannot possibly care for important others in my life, I sure did not feel it in the midst of my all-too-busy day.

Many women tend to be healers – we’re the gender more often charged with care-giving. (This is not intended as a criticism of the many care-giving men out there who are natural nurturers – it’s simply a fact that women usually assume the role more explicitly).

So my friend’s question sparked thoughts about the great equilibrium of giving and receiving. It can be out of balance literally, or in our heads. Rejuvenating activities, gratitude or compliments from those we love, as well as simple acts of kindness shown to us, all produce healing energy. Are we allowing enough of that in our lives?

Consider the literal examples. We can starve ourselves by constantly doing for others, never taking the time to replenish in whatever way creates true enjoyment. We can surround ourselves with people who take only (energy vampires, as Dr. Judith Orloff describes them), rather than spend time with people who know the beautiful dance of give and take. If you are one of these givers, you probably recognize the toll it takes on you, and, most likely, the things that you seek – acceptance, purpose, love – are elusive.

More insidious is the type that is made up in our minds. In this scenario we do a lot and are offered a lot, but – we don’t notice what’s coming back to us because our metal drive is so focused on the next task. I get caught in this mind trap often. I am blessed with a loving husband as well as friends, clients and animal companions who give me as much or more than I give out. But often I miss these precious gifts because the to-do lists in my brain trick me into believing I have no time for them.

The affirmation offered by my friend – “I am the most important person in my life right now” – was profound. Once I made that statement, I was forced to re-focus on the present moment. What I was doing did not change, but the way I did it changed significantly. I came back alive, appreciating the small and beautiful give and take in the interactions of life.

As I moved through the next several days, I did, as usual, a great deal for others. What I provide the people and animals I love brings me great joy. And I en-joy that work when I come from a place of integrity in myself and my capacity.

So, take the challenge given to me. Can you love yourself enough to care for those you love?

Putting self first is a continuing theme for me this new year of 2014. I invite you to read my latest blog about Self-Care on The Spirited Woman – where I am a weekly blogger.