I’m a believer that the greatest lessons we learn in life are the ones that we learn the hard way. Those lessons are the ones that stick with us the most. The reason being that we found out first hand what happens when we ignore wisdom.
One of the important lessons that I learned the hard way is to work smart. Will power pushes us to go beyond our comfort, but we can waste time and energy if we lack strategy. This I realized after I burned out from my call centre job some 8 years ago. At that time, I was pushing myself to do a job that didn’t fit well with my personality or my skills, and I guilt-tripped myself for not being better at what I did and for being so weak. Needless to say, I eventually reached the point where I couldn’t keep up and so I started taking sick days from work (went way over my allotted sick days) until I snapped and couldn’t do it anymore. This particular situation was partly due to the fact that I was in a job that didn’t suit me at all. However, another big factor in this and in many other aspects of my life, was that I wasn’t taking care of myself properly. The engine was revving, the car was moving, but I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going.
Since then, I’ve been extra attentive to how I take care of myself. I’ve realized that we easily hold demanding expectations for ourselves that can truly burden us psychologically. Our present-day mentality of valuing ourselves by our achievements is pushing us to neglect ourselves for trophies and bragging rights. Let me say that in my line of work as a mental health counselor, I’ve seen my fair share of people with trophies and bragging rights who were falling apart because they neglected themselves for the sake of fleeting glory, or sometimes because they thought that making themselves a priority was a sign of selfishness or weakness.
I’m not encouraging anyone to go to the hedonistic extreme. That would be just as bad if not worse. All I’m saying is take that time before bed to unwind, take that well-needed vacation, set time aside to go to the gym or to spend time with your family. No one can take care of you but you. Self-care is like a lumberjack sharpening his ax. If you don’t take the time to sharpen your ax, you will beat uselessly at the tree with little result, and waste far more time and energy than if you took the little time you needed to keep yourself sharp.
Be a light to those around you today!