Our #1 Priority
By Jackie McCullough
A whole new year. A year to take good care of ourselves, grow, and go forward in our lives. When we do this we have more resources to help others. Taking good care of ourselves is a way of taking care of family, friends, coworkers, etc.
We have been told we need to do everything possible to help and rescue others, even if it takes a toll on our emotional and physical health. We are encouraged to help, help until we burn ourselves out doing, doing, doing to make sure these folks are okay.
What happens when we make ourselves a priority? We have more physical and emotional energy. With this energy we feel better and think clearer. Then when we choose to assist other people, we have more energy for that. The result is that both of us feel better, because we aren’t stressed out.
How do we teach our children that self-care is the most important care? This doesn’t mean being rude or destructive. Children who are loved and respected for who they are, are also loving and respectful to others. Children who have been abused, have to learn this, because they haven’t been loved and respected.
I had a 17 year old foster son Jamie, who had been abused as a small child and many more times in foster homes and institutions. Is it any wonder that he lied a lot?
One morning, when he had an appointment to meet a friend, he dressed in his favorite outfit, but it hadn’t been laundered. I said he needed to put on fresh clothes. He kept insisting he had washed the clothes, even though I knew he hadn’t. As he kept insisting he had washed his clothing, I kept calmly telling him he had to wear clean clothes. Then he locked himself in his room! When it was time to leave, I quietly said through his door, I will be in the car, we need to leave in 2-3 minutes. Within two minutes he came out and climbed into the car in fresh togs.
I never tried to shame him by saying he shouldn’t lie, so he was able to do what he needed to do, and be in a good mood for our ride. I was able to stay calm with Jamie’s lying because I had learned not to judge myself or others. Perhaps that day he learned a bit about taking care of himself. Perhaps not, but he knew I loved and accepted him as he was and I believe that is the most important part of relationships. Perhaps, that day, Jamie learned a bit about accepting others without judgment too.
So, for 2017, perhaps we can love ourselves bigger, stronger, and gentler so we are more emotionally and physically available to others.
Jackie McCullough, LifeOptionsCoach/Counselor/Teacher helps individuals take control of their lives. She is the author of Kathy Said, You’re Not Lost to Me, a self-help book for people struggling with anxiety and depression. With a new powerful approach to our lifelong beliefs, plus a modality called Life Options Dialogues, she helps people uncover the beliefs that are keeping them stuck in unwanted feelings and behaviors, like stress, anxiety,and depression.
Life Options teachings help them learn how to live happy empowered lives, no matter what is going on around them. The end result is becoming present, and non-judgmental, so their lives are easier, happier, and more effective. Jackie studied and was certified at the Option Institute International Learning and TrainingCenter in Sheffield, Mass. She now counsels and teaches self-empowerment to those struggling with unwanted feelings and behaviors. She loves to see people take charge of their lives with her gentle processes, to go from “Survivors” to “thrivers.” She counsels in-person and face-to-face on line.
Jackie lives in the Rochester, NY area, is a member of the American Counseling Association, her local Youth Board, Henrietta Interracial Clergy Council, and Unity Church of Greater Rochester.