Do you ever have some unhelpful ideas around why we need to take a break? I certainly did. As I said last week, when my kids were younger, I did not understand why it was important to take a break. I thought somehow it was noble to do it all without help and that I would be lazy, selfish and irresponsible to take a break (which of course it can be, with an unhelpful understanding). This often led me to feel depleted and resentful with the smell of burning martyr lingering in the air.
A definition of a martyr is “a person who pretends to suffer or who exaggerates suffering in order to get praise or sympathy”. I have certainly done that, but now I realize I have a choice. I don’t need to need to engage in such unhelpful habits – instead I can be authentic and have realistic expectations of others and myself and ask for help when I need it. I can also give myself a break, which is not all about me, and the need for praise or sympathy or the need to escape. But, instead to look after myself so I can continue to care for others.
Instead I can take a break or some time away with the intention to rest and refuel, so I can continue to be able to care for others. A dear friend of mind uses the analogy of a dry well, to describe the feeling we have when we are depleted and unable to give. She says it is like scraping the bottom of a dry well; we have no water to give. At these times it is important we take the time to fill up our well – not because we deserve it somehow or that we need praise or sympathy or the water all for ourselves, but rather because we have nothing to give to others unless we do.
Of course at times our need to take a break can be selfishly, ‘all about me’ or an excuse to be lazy and not do what we know would be helpful. Maybe during these times we need to be a little more proactive to get things done, be more ‘other focused’ or take more responsibility for ourselves and not be a drain on others. But, as we have discussed, at other times it is important to take a break, in order refuel and be able to keep giving to others and to be available to them.
With this ‘other orientated’ focus and understanding, it is neither lazy nor irresponsible to take time out and ask for help too. And it is much more fun as well.
A question I like to ask myself is – When is it good to be a little so called irresponsible and lazy? The answer that helps me is – When I need to give to or care for myself, so I can continue to give to others and when I need to let go of unrealistic high expectations and have some fun. I am no use to anyone if I run myself into the ground in martyrdom, blame and criticize others who are doing their best to help or am a hard task master on myself or others. It is much more fun to let go of unrealistic expectations of others and myself and be that kind encouraging friend to all, including me. We are all doing our best with what we know at the time.
Some ways to give ourselves so we can give to others
Wishing you all a happy, peaceful, safe and healthy Festive Season and New Year.
Love Maree xx