Monday, November 10, 2014

Helping Yourself To Help Others

Many years ago after I was in Bridgeway Psychiatric Hospital recovering from the paralysis of Conversion Disorder, I was introduced to a thought I had never been introduced known.  We were in group therapy and the doctor was talking about helping our self in order to help others.

So often we help others at the expense of helping ourselves.  It is easy to do and sometimes it is part of the human experience.  It is hard to see someone in pain, especially if you are highly sensitive like I am.   I don't like to see people suffer or animals for that matter.  I generally feel all of their suffering much more intensely in my own body.

Sitting in that group session that day, the doctor asked the question.   If there was a banquet table full of food and there was you and another person, but only one chair (one place) at the table, what would you do?  Would you eat first before the other person or let the other person eat first?

There is no right or wrong answer on this question.  Many said, that they would most surely let the other person eat first.  In fact, I thought at the time how selfish it would be for me to eat first.

Some said the opposite, but in my mind I had been conditioned to put everyone else first.  After all, it was noble and righteous to help others, the church had taught me.  My own family showed me that you must put others first, because in many ways you were not important enough to take that spot.  It was a dysfunctional experience at best.

However, as the doctor explained in the group, but what if you fed yourself first and nourished your body.  What if, you gave yourself the strength you needed and by doing that you could give more strength and support and help to others.  You could help others pull themselves up to the banquet table and eat so they would be nourished.

Please don't mistake this for greedy and selfish behavior.  Yes, we do see that constantly in our world, but this is a pure act of kindness.  By helping yourself first, you are giving yourself greater capacity to help others.  If you deplete and exhaust yourself, how can you be there for anyone else.

We live in a world where all too many do exactly what I have just described.  It is great to be there for others, but when we fail to recognize our own needs, are we truly giving what we need to give?  If we are depleting and exhausting our self in the service to others, what will be left to give to them?  How long can we keep that pace up?

If we love our self enough to take care of our body and mind and spirit, just think of all that we can do to help others and change the world.  Pulling ourselves up to the banquet table is not a bad thing, especially if our purpose is to nourish our body and through that offer so much more to many.

It is critical that we honor and take care of our own mind, body, and spirit.  For to neglect those things, leaves little to be offered to others.  If we want to help others, we need to begin by helping our self first.

Blog Post And Images (c) 10/15/14 by Don Shetterly

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