Where is the line? Am I the ONLY one who has struggled with this? Two questions I’ve been asking myself for years. Luckily, I have found that I am not the only one who seems so unsure how you can do both of these day in and day out. But this post is what works for me, and I hope this can resonate with you.
Every area of our lives there are opportunities to be selfless. In our marriage, as a son or daughter, sibling, friend, in our jobs, and in our community. I wish I could say I was born selfless…HA! But really, is anyone? As kids, I would imagine most of us were completely egocentric until at least age 12. I’m ashamed to admit this, but although I TRIED to treat others very well in high school, I don’t remember being fully present in my heart or my thoughts, for others, until I was in college. Over the years of college and graduate school, I came to the beautiful realization that I felt more blessed to give than to receive. And although I was frequently tempted to be selfish in my thoughts, words or actions, I felt more true to who I was when I was selfless to others. Being other-centered made my heart more full than anything I had ever known before.
Enter the crazy, culture-obsessed world of “self-care.” My promotion emails are jam-packed with titles like “You NEED this mascara in your life!” or “Treat yourself to a luxurious spa day!” Face masks, bath bombs, golf resort getaways, new shoes, the latest maxi skirt trend…it goes on forever. If anyone is like me, so often if I did indulge in anything like I just mentioned, I ended up feeling guilty. Like how could I spend $60+ on a mani/pedi when I COULD have donated it to the food bank drive going on at work? Or how could I spend my time thinking about how to make my skin look younger when I should just be grateful for the skin I was given and the years of my life? So. much. guilt.
The cloud of guilt finally cleared with one realization…self-care is not the same for everyone. I believe self-care is doing something that “fills up your cup.” When you think of it in that way, it can be a wide array of things for different people. I can only speak for myself, but here are some things that absolutely FILL my cup: long walks with my husband and dog, baths (bubble baths if I’m feeling extra that day), gardening, and going to church. I recently wrote down a list of nearly 20 of these things that fill my cup. They had to be things that in no way, shape or form drained me. I do them and am filled with peace, joy, gratitude, and contentment. So instead of doing all of these other things that emails, magazines, or even other girls made me think were the only forms of “self-care” I could have, I started realizing what made ME feel better. Seasons have changed with what my self-care looks like. In one season, maybe I needed to go to a few counseling sessions, and in another, training for a marathon kept me sane and kept my endorphins high when I most needed them. But I had to have the self-awareness of where I was feeling the least bit depleted, and I had to figure out how to help myself in those areas.
The single greatest thing I did to balance both selflessness and self-care was to WRITE DOWN my priorities. Things that mattered to me, and in what order. I cannot emphasize how important it was for me to write these down. It made them so much more real, rather than fleeting thoughts. They could be things such as my family, my job, my faith, our financial goals…all the way through “being humble,” “being a good friend,” or “teaching my future children to be kind.” Every single thing I do: the way I spend my time, how I use my energy, how I spend my money – they revolve 100% around my priorities. When I find myself feeling out of balance, it’s usually because I am not reflecting what my priorities are in how I am living my life.
One of the greatest challenges I’ve accepted in my life is to love others without any “unless..” attached. I believe it is more challenging to love others regardless of their pasts, regardless of how different they are than me with how they grew up, how they vote, their skin color, their culture, their beliefs, regardless of how everyone else treats them, or regardless of whether or not I think they “deserve” it.
But how could you ever give unending GRACE to others if you can’t even do it for
How could you wholeheartedly FORGIVE others, if you can’t even forgive yourself?
How could you see the BEST in others, if you can’t even see the best in yourself?
How could you EMBRACE and LOVE others in their brokenness, if you can’t even embrace and love your own?
These are the reasons why self-care is so important on the pursuit of relentless selflessness for others. Your cup is meant to *overflow* to others, rather than be tipped and poured out (thanks Rachel Hollis!). What does self-care look like for you? What are your priorities? What brings your heart joy, peace, gratitude, the ability to forgive and give grace to yourself, so you can’t HELP but give it to others? Therein lies the secret to using self-care as a means to be more beautifully selfless.
Happy Sunday friends, and a Happy Easter to those who celebrate <3
XOXO Lindsey Sholtis