“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.
When I worked in the NHS we were always told that when faced with an emergency situation we should always make sure that we were safe first. On an aeroplane the safety advice is always “Put your own oxygen mask on first before trying to help others”. It’s wise advice. We need to attend to our own care first in order to give us the strength and resilience to help others. It’s unfortunate that many people don’t get this and they tend to repeatedly put the needs of others before their own. They give and give until they are either all washed up or feeling resentful. A common name for this is co-dependency. Is this something you suffer from? It is something that was the bane of my life for many years. Always seeking to attend to other people’s needs, I forgot to tend to my own. I ended up resentful and felt taken for granted and lacking in energy and self-worth.
Yet this imbalance is seldom found in nature. All natural organisms have innate instincts for both self-preservation and pleasure, and attending to others. If we observe the ways of Nature, we can discover a healthy balance between nurturing ourselves and those around us.
Purpose: To explore natural and healthy ways to care for ourselves as well as others.
To do: Take your art materials to a natural place where you feel comfortable and can study your surroundings uninterrupted. Quietly ask for permission to be there and interact. When you feel welcome and comfortable enter the natural space.
1. Ask yourself what you do to take care of yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Write your thoughts in your journal. Do you make yourself a priority? Are you able to recognise your needs and seek to fulfill them or ask for help when you need it? If not, why not?
2. Look around you for something natural that you are drawn to. Study it to understand how it takes care of itself. What does it do to maintain its wellbeing?
3. Draw a picture of the natural entity that you are drawn to and illustrate how it nurtures itself. Give your artwork a title.
4. Make a list of things it needs to take care of itself. Make a list of things you need to take care of yourself.
When you look at your artwork what thoughts and feelings do you have? Is there a message in it for you?
Make a list of things you can do to nurture and take care of yourself. Make it a priority to do at least one of these things every day.
Maya Angelou once said: “The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself.” You must teach yourself that you are worthy of respect, your needs are meant to be met, and your dreams are meant to be fulfilled. You must believe you are as worthy and important as everyone else.