Looking after ourselves.
Our world is full of beautiful people doing beautiful things. But are we looking after others more than looking after ourselves?
I’m grateful for the positives in human nature nowadays. The circles I turn in are full of cool people doing cool things for others. But sometimes, for those of us who ‘do’, it might seem as if we’re expected to. And that’s when doing cool things, becomes a chore. But that’s a perception. Often, the reason myself and others feel that way, is because we’ve not reminded ourselves of one thing in particular.
Looking after ourselves is just as important as looking after others.
Recently I was out and about doing my thing for RUOK? Day. I’d been invited to speak with three teams from the North West Mental Health division (NWMH). I freely admit, I felt quite nervous. Self-doubt had kicked in hard. What insights about mental health could I offer trained professionals? They have degree’s, experience, and things! I was sweating bullets.
In the morning, I met one of their managers who drove me to my first speaking engagement. In the car I told him I was looking forward to speaking with his teams, but also how nervous I was. And that’s when everything changed.
This manager told me a personal story of his. He’s a well-trained professional, with multiple degrees, years of experience, and so much care to give to his clients and his employees. But one day, he forgot about looking after himself, and he crashed pretty hard. He had to take time out from looking after others. As I listened to his story, the lightbulb moment I had was chandelier sized. Even the pro’s need to know it’s OK to be looking after ourselves. Why? Because we’re all human.
Reminders and questions.
That day went on to be one of the best speaking engagements I’ve had to date. I stuck to my material, I talked about the RUOK? four steps to asking. I spoke of how important it is that we take time out for looking after ourselves, like we do for everyone else. I reminded these teams of professionals that whilst they often act like superheroes, they’re human too.
Now, a question for you. Do you spend far too much time looking after the needs and wants of others, and not looking after yourself? Does that feel like a chore? Hard work? As if your time and support is being demanded? Well, may I please remind you of something vitally important. It’s OK not to be there for other people, all the time.
Specifics Do Not Matter.
This world will always have something or someone requiring our attention. We invariably strive to supply that demand, whether we’re shown gratitude for it or not. This observation isn’t dependent upon what you do in this world.
You work a day job? Do you have workmates? One of them needed your support for so long now you’re feeling drained? You’re in a team, so reach out for help. Try a collaborative approach, ask another to step in for you. Seek ways to lower the demands upon yourself, and share that load a little.
Are you an employer? People needing more of you, more often? Struggling to meet their personal needs? Delegation is key, and an effective way for you to take some time to recharge yourself. Train your managers, have them skilled up in what to do when their people need them. Business isn’t always about profits; your people need support too.
Maybe you’re a solo-preneur, doing it all on your own? You’re wearing all the hats and burning the candle at both ends. Time you stopped prioritising business, and made time for yourself? It’s OK to back away for a minute. It’s not a weakness to want to be looking after ourselves. Go talk to your nearest and dearest. Reconnect with friends and family. Have that dinner, enjoy that picnic. Pick up the phone and call someone.
As I said earlier, regardless of what we do or who we do it for, we’re all human. We all need a friend sometimes. And sometimes more than one. My advice here is very simple.
Avoid being the kind of human who helps everyone but themselves. Take some me-time. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary. Your desire to help those around you is beautiful, but don’t set fire to yourself trying to light someone else’s candle. It’s important you’re well too.
The teams at NWMH looked after one another well. Exceptionally well in fact. But it often took a meltdown moment for them to realise they needed to step in and support each other. They’re human remember? And you are too. Never forget that. Reach for support, lean on it. Be a bit vulnerable, be a bit brave. Tell someone you’re not doing OK and a little help is needed. Be human, be you.
And when you’re well and recharged, and at your best once more, go back to helping. Because when you feel your best, you do your best.