If I had a dime for every time I heard one of my professors or supervisors I had while in grad school speak to me about the importance of self-care, I probably wouldn’t have as much school debt (lol). But in all honesty, they drilled it into us. Self-care, self-care, self-care. Almost to the point that I needed some care from being told about self-care. Now, as a practicing Clinician I understand from a different perspective the importance of it. The work we do (therapist, social workers, human service personnel) is draining work. And if you know me, you know I always say: “you don’t get into this field to make money, you get in this field because you love people”, and it’s the truth. We do this work because we see the importance of it, we know it’s necessary, and we realize that we have something (no matter how small) to give back.
One realization that I’ve noticed is that a big part of doing the work is doing your work that is required; the internal work that is so necessary when working in this field, or just choosing to help other people in general. It’s so easy to point out the speck in someone else’s eye instead of getting the log out of your eye (Matthew 7:3). I thought this to myself as I sat in a Psychodrama training. I reminded myself of how important it is for me to work through my own ish. To heal those wounds, grieve those losses, and humble those areas that may have risen too high.
*That's Tweetable* It's so easy to point out the speck in someone else's eye instead of getting the log out of your eye.
Lately, I am more and more thoroughly committed to working on my stuff and being the best version of me. The version that I deserve to be, despite what may have happened; the version that my loved ones and clients deserve. Not the beaten down, scarred, miserable, mentally trapped version, because that Edie is no good for anyone. But my best self. I often tell my clients that if they’re dead or in prison they’re no good to anyone. And the same is true for me; if I’m dead on the inside (or worst off physically dead) due to lack of self care. Or if I’m in the prison of my own thoughts and emotions, how can I be the least bit effective in helping the individuals I serve?
Taking care of yourself is key (no Khaled, lol). You must make it a priority. I think that I drill this into my interns just as much as it was drilled into me when I was still in school. One thing I hope I’m doing differently is modeling self-care practices for them, and broadening their ideas of what self-care looks like. So many people think of the spa, that quick get away, or that “maybe I didn’t have to spend that much” shopping spree. And yes of course those all count as self-care, but what our internal statuses? The mental, emotional, and spiritual parts of us that often need to be assessed and refreshed to ensure max effectiveness in what we do.
I constantly encourage my interns and colleagues alike to seek their own therapy, attend interpersonal training's, cry as often as they feel, meditate, journal, attend spiritual events, and do WHATEVER other internal work they may need in order to get back on track. I can't stress it enough: YOUR PEACE NEEDS TO BE MOST IMPORTANT. If I’m internally disrupted, I can barely focus in a session; the client may be pouring their heart out, meanwhile I’m all in my head thinking about the first thing they said which triggered the memory of an event that I failed to address in my own life. Not only is this unhealthy, but it’s also unethical. Do no harm. We do ourselves and the individuals we serve a great disservice when we fail to deal with our stuff.
Maybe you aren’t a Counselor or human service worker, but maybe you’re a parent, a soldier, a ministry leader, or even a McDonald’s drive thru worker. You owe it to yourself and the people you serve to be the best version of yourself. There are enough people in the world running around damaged, angry, and bruised. The least we can do with our enlightenment is to take advantage of the resources available to us to help deepen our own self-awareness. Go get that therapist, sign up for that support group, do that step work. Will it be easy? No. Will it be pretty? Probably not. But will it be worth it? Absolutely.
We can only be the best version of ourselves when we actually dig into who it is that we are. There is much work to be done. It’s time we get to it.
What is one thing that you are willing to do to take care of your internal self?