Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Oil for Your Lamp...Women Taking Care of Themselves

Anatasia Radowicz
This was not what I had intended to post today but when I read it, I was so touched that I thought I needed to share it.  It speaks to so many of my friends, and to me, about conversations we've just recently shared.  Why is it that we women believe that we must care for everyone BEFORE we care for ourselves?  Why do we take ourselves to the point of absolute exhaustion before we allow ourselves time to renew and strengthen? 

It is interesting that in the past several weeks I have had this same discussion with several of my friends who are finding themselves run ragged from caring for everyone around them.  They have voiced their concern and their wonder about what to do to remedy the situation.  We have talked about always making time for themselves, even if it's a cup of tea or a glass of wine at the end of the day, along with a good book.  We've talked about making certain that their "bucket" gets filled so that they are able to fill all the others.

Please enjoy and consider the message below.  I, for one, heard what they said.

According to Lisa Hammond and BJ Gallagher, the "Golden Rule for Women" should be this:
"We need to do unto ourselves as we do unto others."

An Excerpt from
Oil for Your Lamp
by Lisa Hammond & BJ Gallagher

Virtually every woman we know has the same problem - she knows what's good for her, but she often doesn't do it. She knows she should eat less and exercise more, but still she doesn't make healthy choices. She knows she needs to spend her time and money more effectively, but good time and money management elude her. She finds herself always putting others first, while neglecting her own needs and wants. She doesn't get enough rest or sleep and her endless to-do list hangs overhead like the sword of Damocles. As our friend Brenda Knight laments frequently, "Why am I always riding in the back of my own bus?"
We don't do the things we know are good for us because we are so busy taking care of others that we neglect ourselves. The problem isn't lack of information - we have plenty of information about the importance of sleep, healthy foods, and exercise. The problem is how we prioritize our lives.
Psychologists tell us that some people are inner-directed and some are other-directed. That is, some people focus on their own internal guidance system for making choices about how to spend their time and energy. Their own self-interest ranks very high on their list of priorities. "What's best for me?" is a key guiding principle in determining where they focus their attention and how they make day-to-day decisions.
And some people are other-directed, which means that their primary focus is external, not internal. They are primarily concerned with relationships, especially people they care about. "How can I help others?" is a key question in how they spend their time and energy. Building and nurturing relationships with loved ones, family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers is the guiding principle in their lives.
Research indicates that, in general, men tend to be more inner-directed, while women tend to be more other-directed. There are exceptions, of course, but as a group, men are focused on themselves while women are focused on other people. Men like to build things while women like to build relationships.
This difference in psychological orientation goes a long way toward helping us understand why we women often do such a poor job of taking care of ourselves. We run around filling others' lamps with oil, but forget to fill our own lamps first. Then we wonder why we're often exhausted, frazzled, stressed-out, anxious and/or depressed!
Awareness is the first step toward solving a problem. So the first section of this book is devoted to helping us acknowledge the problem and understand the reasons for it. Chapter 1 looks at how girls are socialized, growing up to be women who put others first. Chapter 2 examines the values women have adopted in the past 50 years, beginning with the feminist movement - leading us to believe that we can have it all - all at once. And Chapter 3 explores the corresponding myth that we can DO it all.
But don't be discouraged. Help is on the way - in Section II, we'll get into solutions for the problem. We'll learn the value of doing nothing, how to play again, how to become more inner-directed, and most important, how to ask for help.
You can find this book by visiting Simple Truths at the link above.   Blessings to You!

1 comment:

Akindman said...

For the few short years my mother with us before passing, all of us kids shared in doing the chores around the house – it was fun and we enjoyed helping. Her mother, affectionately known to all as Granny was a firm believer that all children needed to know how to take care of themselves. Gender never played a role! This included, but by no means limited to:
• Cooking and cleaning up after yourself;
• Sewing;
• Washing, drying and ironing your clothes (and others);
• Cleaning this house, yes, bathrooms, toilets, floors, etc.;
• How to use various tools, hammers, screw drivers, drills, hand saws, hoes, rakes, lawn mowers (push and gas powered);
• Work in the family garden, planting, tending, watering, picking and canning;
• Feeding and caring for the live stock, chickens, pets, worm garden; and last but never least
• Making a good pot of coffee!

These were also basic ground rules in our home and when I had children, they applied as well. One daughter is applying that with her soon to be 3-year old; the other who has three boys, chose to do things for them.

In part I concur with the concept and basic tenets of Lisa and BJ book. Regardless of gender, when the topic of being overwhelmed with doing for others comes up, I wonder and at times will ask how they got to that point?

As a parent we have an obligation to teach our children. Helping them help themselves! Not doing for them, teaching them how! That includes all life skills – be sure they are prepared to do what they need to do, and how to make good decisions.