Take care of yourself before taking care of other people | VailDaily.com

Take care of yourself before taking care of other people

Catherine Zeeb
Vail CO, Colorado
Columnist Cathy Zeeb

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Bless you for taking care of your sick friend, your ailing or aging parents, your friend’s children, people at your work, your community, your world. Bless you for running a friend to the store, meeting a family member for coffee and helping a friend take her dog to the vet. These are all acts of kindness and compassion. There are not enough thank-yous for all that you give and for all that you do. There never seems to be enough time to take care of all those people you feel you need to take care of, either.

You worked all day and then ran around taking care of others. At the end of the day, you are tired. You get home, and then maybe you have to take care of a husband or wife, animals and children. You are tired. You take a shower and prepare for bed.

You feel tired. You can’t imagine why you can’t get to sleep, and then at an early hour of the morning, you can’t imagine why you can’t get back to sleep.

Does this sound familiar to anyone out there? Giving is supposed to feel good, and if it doesn’t, something’s wrong.

All giving comes from within. If you don’t replenish your soul, you will only have so much to give. You will feel drained or even sick by the end of the day or week. Giving isn’t always a virtue. There are many unhealthy versions of being a giver. Learning to give from the soul generates abundance. Giving from a place of codependency or being needy bleeds your life force and creates feelings of guilt.

Soulful giving is a way of nurturing yourself, which enlarges your capacity to care for people. The best indicator of whether you are giving from your soul or a need is your energy level. Giving is an energy exchange. Whether you give a gift that you wrap and hand over to someone or whether you help them in another way, there is an exchange of energy.

As loving people, we equate compassion with giving. Compassion demands that we learn to set boundaries about how much energy we take in and how much we put out. When using kindness to avoid conflict, a “no” is the best answer. If you feel that your refusal to do something for someone will cause conflict, you may decide to do it anyway just to avoid the conflict. Again, bless your heart for helping, but how do you really feel now? Learning to set boundaries is important so your soul doesn’t suffer. Take time to rejuvenate your soul.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to see if you give from compassion or need:

1. Does this sustain or drain me?

2. Do others help me as much as I help them?

3. Do I get walked on?

4. Can I set boundaries and say no?

5. Can I give and still nourish myself?

You must to take time for your soul. Your soul is yours to care for. That may sound obvious, but we forget that no other human being can do that for us. Others may lift our soul or they may burden our soul, but it is only you who can choose to renew and replenish. Only you can stop long enough to quiet the internal conversation now and then. Only you can learn to say no and not feel guilty. Only you can take a breath and connect to your own private, personal higher power. Only you can know why you give.

Give and give in this lifetime. It truly is one of our most precious actions. But don’t forget to give to yourself, first and foremost. From that place of health, light and peace, you will be able to give fully and not exhaust your resource ” your soul.

Catherine Zeeb holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in metaphysics. She has a private therapy practice in Edwards and teaches metaphysics at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards. You can visit her Web site at http://www.healing-spirits.net.

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