Today I caught myself doing something ridiculous. Something I’m embarrassed to admit I do all the time. I was picking out my clothes based on who was going to see me today. At first glance this doesn’t seem so odd – if I’m going to work I dress differently than if I’m going to go run errands, right? But that wasn’t exactly it, and the sillier thing is that I was already dressed and was simply choosing a pair of socks. I had one pair in my hand and then thought, “These are cute socks – I should save them for a time when someone might actually see them.”
What? It got me to thinking about the importance we place on ourselves. So much effort goes into pleasing others and showing up for them, but what about just showing up for you? This comes out in many different ways in counseling sessions I have with others. I talk about creating boundaries, the importance of self-care, advocating for yourself – and then I downgrade my sock selection because I’m just doing paperwork today and nobody will see them except for me. Hmmm.
The truth is that there is an unspoken expectation in our society that to be a “good” person you need to put others’ needs in front of your own. This is actually true in some scenarios, but there has to be a balance. An analogy I use all the time is “your bucket.” Everyone has a bucket of what they are capable of giving to others. But if you deplete this bucket completely you have nothing left to give – to anyone, including yourself. So what do you do about this? You make sure your bucket is being refilled regularly so that it always has something in it and never runs dry. You do things FOR YOU! This looks different for everyone. Maybe it means you do something pampering or make time to work out so your body is strong. Maybe you read a good novel that doesn’t have anything to do with your professional growth. Maybe you wear the cute socks, just for you, because they make you happy. Hopefully you also have a good support network of friends, family or others that add positive energy to your life and give back some of what is taken out of your bucket. If you think about it, the more you take care of yourself, the more you have to give to others.
So go ahead and grab those cute socks and rock them all day long! Because you can.