By Dr. Ca Trice Glenn | October 16, 2017
The second greatest gift God gave us was an awareness of self. Followed by giving us life, God gave us an ability to recognize that we are a uniquely created individual. Perhaps in infancy or as a toddler, we began to recognize that we are different than other people and we are not exactly the same as the others around us. Usually it’s through certain identifiers that we learn to distinguish who we are apart who we are not. We learn that we have a specific name, specific parents and relatives, distinctive facial and body features and even a distinctive way we talk. Pretty early on, we learn that we share some features with others, but some aspects of life are specifically unique to us.
Life transitions and complexities can complicate how we take care of our ‘self’. When we were children it was easier to take care of ourselves because our basic wants and needs were our primary concerns. As we mature and take on new responsibilities, we learn that the world does not revolve around us alone. We began to focus more on others and our growing list of responsibilities. What usually gets lost in that is a ‘refocusing’ on the needs of our true self.
There is a big difference between being self-aware and being selfish. Being selfish implies that one only focuses on what will gratify or please them. However, to be self-aware and self-nourishing we need simply to remind ourselves that our ‘self’ needs a portion of attention equal to that of the attention we give others and other responsibilities. To care for our self means that we choose not to neglect our self just to focus on others.
Many fall into the trap of focusing all of our attention on other people and things in our lives without making sure that we are also taken care of, that our self is also growing, being nurtured, seeking fulfillment, experiencing new things and seeking new adventures. This is particularly prominent with parents who turn the majority of their attention to what their children need to thrive, but neglect their own needs out of some perceived sense of obligation. There is a better likelihood of raising healthy children when the parents are healthy.
To be a good steward of something means you are aware of its needs and you care for it. Our needs change as we mature and our care approaches need to adapt as well. If you find that your life seems empty and no matter how you try to rationalize it or justify it you have to admit that something is lacking, then accept the challenge of evaluating what is missing and develop a plan to restore and replenish.
Ask yourself this question; “what is the last thing that I did for myself that did not involve a role or responsibility?” That’s a powerful question for many adults. Considering that many of us are caught up in all the day-to-day tasks of the responsibilities we have each week. Sit and reflect about that last time you just had fun. Not necessarily the fun with other parents or co-workers but just fun! Maybe you need to reflect on that last time you felt truly at peace and content with the life. What factors contributed to that feeling? When was that last time you learned something new just for the sake of it and not for a class, career or to teach it.
Being a good steward of ‘self’ means remembering to value your need for self-nourishment and growth, and be intentional to maintain it.
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