We know that we can only take care of others if we take care of ourselves first. So Why do we feel guilty when caring for ourselves? and why is it so hard to be consistent with our self-care practice?
Last weekend, I took two days to restore, rejuvenate, and fill up my tank. Focused on self-care, I spent fun time with my husband walking in nature, going to an art show, and unplugging from work. I also spent some time by myself reflecting, meditating (which I do every day, but this time it was longer) and giving myself longer sessions of Reiki.
I came across Wayne Dyer’s “Orange Story” and it made me think more about self-care.
One time when giving a talk, Dyer brought an orange with him to the stage and opened a conversation with a bright young fellow of about twelve who was sitting in the front row.
“If I were to squeeze this orange as hard as I could, what would come out?” he asked him.
The boy looked at him like he was a little crazy and said, “Juice, of course.”
“Do you think apple juice could come out of it?”
“No!” he laughed.
“What about grapefruit juice?”
“What would come out of it?”
“Orange juice, of course.”
“Why? Why when you squeeze an orange does orange juice come out?”
“Well, it’s an orange and that’s what’s inside.”
Dyer nodded. “Let’s assume that this orange isn’t an orange, but it’s you. And someone squeezes you, puts pressure on you, says something you don’t like, or offends you. And out of you comes anger, hatred, bitterness, fear. Why? The answer, as our young friend has told us, is because that’s what’s inside.”
“It’s one of the great lessons of life,” says Dyer. “What comes out when life squeezes you? When someone hurts or offends you? If anger, pain, and fear come out of you, it’s because that’s what’s inside. It doesn’t matter who does the squeezing—your mother, your brother, your children, your boss, the government. If someone says something about you that you don’t like, what comes out of you is what’s inside. And what’s inside is up to you. It’s your choice.”
So what does Dyer’s orange story have to do with self-care?
Just like orange juice and not grapefruit juice comes out of an orange, what’s inside of us comes out automatically when life pressures us.
When we feel pressured or stressed and what comes out of us is anything other than love, it’s an indication to us that something is off and it’s time for balance. When what comes out of us is anything other than love, it’s a message for us to remember self-care.
A few days ago, I was preparing to teach a class and things got a little hectic since I scheduled back-to-back classes and there was a lot on my plate. I became impatient with my husband and allowed my over-achieving, over-creating personality to take over. The result was that I wasn’t the nicest person to be around. My husband called me on my attitude and I knew then, “I’m off!”
Do I love what I do? Yes, 100%. Do I tend to overdo? Yes! That’s my tendency. And at times, this tendency takes over.
When we feel pressured or stressed and what comes out of us is anything other than love, it’s an indication to us that it is time for some self-care.
Realizing that I don’t follow my own advice and I was over-stressing indicated that it was time to bring balance back. It was clear that self-care needed to move to a higher place on my priority list, so I took the weekend off to restore, rejuvenate, and fill up my tank. Life offers challenges, and stress is a natural part of life. Giving ourselves permission to make self-care important allows us to change our perspective on stress.
Giving ourselves permission to make self-care important changes what’s inside to love, so that when stress squeezes what will come out will be a more loving response.
Going back to Wayne Dyer’s orange story, here is my point: When we make self-care a priority and release guilt around caring for ourselves, we are more rested, calm, and loving. The “juice” that will come out when we’re squeezed will reflect those loving and centered qualities.
Caring for ourselves is not selfish. Caring for ourselves is our sacred responsibility.
From now on every time you see an orange, imagine that if the orange could speak, it would say to you:
Caring for yourself is not selfish. Caring for yourself is your sacred responsibility.
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments area, my friend!