A famous singer in Romania during my youth, I became and remained the breadwinner of my family from a very young age. Everything my loved ones wanted, they got, from houses to cars to the finest education. This constant "giving" continued throughout my life. But along the way, my family trickled away: My sister left to Europe, my daughters all grew up, and my parents and husband passed away. I found myself with, well, no one to please... save myself.
In my eyes my husband was the most wonderful, handsome, and perfect man alive. But after his passing over four years ago, there were suddenly more hours in the day. And with my three grown daughters off on their own, I had no laundry to do, no bills to pay, and no messes to clean up. I was also no longer a shoulder to cry on or dear confidante in need. I could work less and have more free time. But the question was, what would I do with it?
I moved to Florida near the beach soon after my husband's death. To occupy my new-found leisure, I meditated on the gently crashing waves and tried to decipher the seagulls' sad songs. It was during one of these sessions that I realized just how much I adored the ocean. Yet I so rarely experienced its splendor, because I had been investing my time in everything and everyone but myself. I had, in fact, exhausted my powers for the pure love of others.
My anecdote is the reality of many: The majority of us seldom put ourselves in first place. We invest in the latest appliances and gadgets to organize/complicate our lives, hopeful business ventures, and other people's dreams. We dress according to trends and style our hair from magazines. But in doing so, are we doing what we love or do we love conforming to the whims of the world? Are we truly free, or is our freedom entirely dependent on the impressions of others?
Honestly answer these three questions:
When was the last time I did something I loved?
What have I done to better myself in the past month?
To whom do I listen?
You will better understand how your energy is consumed based on your answers. If you feel you deserve more self-care, put into practice the following 10 ways to invest in your own welfare and watch your inherent strength resurface:
Discover your true needs. No two people have the exact same needs. Establish what's most important for you to gain, have, and keep in your life, e.g., what you truly need as opposed to what you simply want.
Raise your self-worth. Even if you think you already possess a healthy dose of self-esteem, work to improve your opinion of yourself. This calls for a remorseless disposal of fears and perceived insecurities as well as the healing of old wounds once and for all.
Never apologize for who you are. Be an unapologetic bearer of your best and worst traits, the totality of your being. What may seem like a personal defect to you may be an endearing trait to someone else. You are perfect and flawed in a unique combination that can never be replicated, and this fact should be embraced.
Never go against your intuition. Your intuition knows more than you think. Learn to trust your inner voice without hesitation; reason may tell you one thing, but your instinct tells you the right thing, always.
Create a bigger version of yourself. Don't settle on a self-imposed plateau; always aim a bit higher than before. Visualize your ideal life -- regardless of how unattainable it may seem now -- and act to manifest it one element at a time.
Take impeccable care of yourself. If you don't practice the art of self-care, who will do it for you? Adopt healthy habits and grow stronger each day in mental, emotional, and physical ways. Ensure that the situations in which you choose to become involved are helpful and not harmful.
Set an example. Setting an example for others means that you act with integrity under all circumstances, which is a sign of careful attention to your being. When you set an example, you show those around you that you've invested in yourself time and time again to reach a level of excellence.
Multiply your riches. There exists greater richness in knowledge, wisdom, compassion, and tenacity than in all the money in the world. These are realizations unmatched by any amount of wealth which allow you to navigate through inevitable challenges with ease. Those who know, grow.
Do what you love. Oftentimes it is the simplest things that deliver the most profound joy, yet we barely find time for these precious activities. Don't postpone your simple pleasures, whether you like to read or sing or hike. Perform actions grounded in a deep seat of love every day.
Weigh your options. Beware of making the same mistakes due to habit or influence. Don't be afraid to go within and weigh your options before making decisions. Remember that you have the right to pick the people and things you want in your life -- they should not pick you.
The beauty of sacrifice is that you will not always be able to put yourself first. But by raising your awareness of what you deserve, you can foster a healthy balance between how much you do for others and how much you do for yourself. You are your single greatest investment, and to put energy into your well-being is to ensure the equal well-being of those who depend on you.
To investing wisely,
Dr. Carmen Harra
To connect with Dr. Carmen Harra on Facebook, click here.
For more by Dr. Carmen Harra, click here.
To visit Dr. Carmen Harra's website, click here.
For more on life lessons, click here.