As usual, the pithy title and accompanying photo are a metaphor of the blog you are about to read. This is another blog about taking care of you first. Self care is not selfish, as I wrote about previously.
In this reference, the “left-overs” are a reference to you giving everything away to everyone else and then whatever scraps are left over, this is what you get to eat. My grandmother did this to a large degree, and after some real introspective moments, it appears that I may be this way to a certain degree as well. I have caught myself more than once having guilty feelings about my life being so great and blessed while others in my family or my circle of friends are suffering one way or another. Everyone’s life is the sum total of their choices to that point, and I try to remind myself of this, but as empathetic as I a, this can be tough. Being a coach, I take on a lot more than teaching forehands and backhands. For some of my players I become a third parent/mentor/advisor/confidant etc., and there is a cost that goes with that.
Luckily for me, I have learned to (for the most part) balance out the constant output of support and help with making sure I am taking care of me first. By doing so, I have a lot more to give to others.
I was on a long drive yesterday and as usual had chosen a podcast to listen to while on the road. Yet another amazing podcast conversation with Tim Ferriss and his guest for podcast was Anne Lamont, well known for her book Bird by Bird. I have not read this book (yet), but Tim Ferriss raved about it, and basically credited her with him being able to finish several of his own book projects after reading this book of hers. She is a prolific writer, having written multiple best sellers in both fiction and non-fiction genres. But she is a self-admitted train wreck, and in some ways this is what makes her such a relatable guest on the show. She struggled with drugs and alcohol, major OCD and co-dependency issues and lots of other baggage stemming from a rough childhood.
In a wide-ranging discussion they cover a bunch of topics and they share openly about everything from the darkest moments of their respective lives to some of the triumphs each has achieved. It is a great listen, and I highly recommend it. The reason I add this in to the line of thinking for this blog is that she focuses heavily on this topic, and I borrowed the title for the blog from her as well. She said that line and it made me laugh aloud in recognition of the impact of that statement. It is so true for many of us; we prioritize everyone else over ourselves and think that is is the right thing to do in every case. Newsflash: It’s not. In SOME cases, yes, you need to put others first, but not as a way of life. You need to take care of yourself so that you HAVE THE CAPACITY to then help others.
Think of it like filling your gas tank so you can give people a ride to where they need to go.
Listening to this podcast and many others like it does a couple of things for me, first and foremost it is a good reminder that I do not have a monopoly on childhood traumas and fears. And by comparison, my life has been a cake walk when compared to many others. It is a good reminder that despite my perception of my past, my family did their best and things could have been a lot worse. It helps me have more gratitude for where I am in life, and the person I have become. It makes me think that I had roughly the right amount of stuff to overcome, but not too much. But it also is a stark reminder of how thin a line we all walk, all the time, and one seemingly innocuous decision could lead you down a path that is far off the trajectory you were once on. Be vigilant…
As I continue to walk my own path of personal discovery and sorting out the thought processes and patterns that have become my own operating system, I rely heavily on external assistance such as this and many other podcasts that Tim Ferriss has shared with the world. I love his stuff, and HIGHLY recommend it to everyone. Each one of the 500+ podcasts will have different meaning and different impact on each people, but if you have not checked out any of these before, I cannot emphasize enough that you need to do so. If you are someone who is going through the motions of life, unsure why you’re where you are at and unsure of how to get where you want to go, this might be a great place to start.
In a final thought, it is great that you want to help others, imagine what the world would be like if more people thought that way. But the question to ask yourself is: What is a HEALTHY amount of help, for them and for me? Are you relegated to eating the left-overs all the time, leaving nothing for yourself but the scraps that others leave behind? If so, ya went overboard, and you need to reel it back a bit. I am not a psychologist or anything like that, but I can tell you I spend a lot of my own time on topics like this, and striking a reasonable balance on this and other self care topics is vital for your own health and sanity.
Fortify yourself first, and THEN give what you have left to others.
I wish you luck in your endeavors…