Mama always said “be good.”To this day as I hang up the phone after our lengthy conversations she still says “behave and be good.” As a child I was good. I shared my toys, I sat still in class in fact I was often considered the teacher’s pet. I was the one who quickly became the teacher’s eyes and ears. I gained a reputation for being a “goody two shoes.” I became so good that I put my own needs to the side often feeling an enormous rush of guilt if by chance I was not good. I saw taking care of myself as selfish and would be labeled as such when I demonstrated or discussed desires of my own. Society rewards us for being “good.” When we do what we are supposed to do we are graced with approval, a smile. We become part of the mass of everybody doing what it is we are supposed to be doing, being good. The problem rears its head when we no longer hear the mantra “be good.’ Perhaps we come to see that we have a different idea of what being “good” is all about. When we step back and start to take care of our own needs others often fail to understand. We may leave some confused or hurt. They may want our time or energy and we may not have any to give.
Ah, the art of self preservation. For many it takes a long time to master the ability to take care of self. We may expend a lot of energy giving to things that do not feed us. We attend events that do not interest us. We say yes when we should say no. We call those who never call us. We feed those who never feed us. We begin to see that we are on a one sided street and we are going nowhere. Expending unnecessary energy leaves us feeling empty and depleted. In our efforts to be there for others sometimes we fail to be there for ourselves. To give our self the gift of time, rest and the ability to say no is one of the grandest gifts we can give ourselves. Being stingy with our energy allows us to build up the reserve to best help those who need us when the need arises. Our bodies never lie. They will let us know when it is time to retreat and to come home to ourselves. All we have to do is listen.