Provide for Yourself

I learned a long time ago that I had to provide and care deeply for myself, or I couldn’t provide or care for anyone else. This was a revolution for me. Before that, I was always “doing” for others, thinking I was being a good person. I’m not alone in coming to the realization that without first learning to care for oneself, it’s impossible to really care for and about others. For years I subconsciously collected YOMs – You Owe Me’s, and although I didn’t realize it, someday I’d want to collect. The problem is the people I had YOM agreements with didn’t know it. Of course, they didn’t. I didn’t know it.

I bring this up this week, because I see people I know and watch people I don’t know fall into collecting YOM’s. I see it in the workplace, I see it in personal relationships that surround me and I see it in our broad community. So how do we not have this issue? First, we don’t suppress our thoughts and feelings. We learn how to constructively build relationships that have room for both sides to flourish; relationships where there’s room for each party to get and give. Relationships that are created intentionally are the ones that can thrive. Never before has this type of relationship been more important in the workplace. The seclusion and social unrest has most of us feeling unsure and uncertain, but that’s actually something to take advantage of.

For any of us to change and adapt we have to be uncomfortable. It’s the strongest motivation there is. Of course, we always have three choices, move forward towards making things better, give up and things will stay the same and then get worse, or retreat. Chose the last option and trust me things will get worse. Now’s the time to make the right choice and tap into your self-caring. Do something for yourself so you can assist and care for others. Make yourself laugh, learn another point of view, put logic to work to tamp down fear and the resulting stress. Studies prove that stress builds resiliency, making us stronger or at least, less fragile. And less fragile is good! I like to correlate stress with building strong bones and muscle…they absolutely need stress, don’t they?

There’s a book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder. If you are unfamiliar with Professor Taleb, you might want to start with The Black Swan or research Black Swan theory, which is a metaphor describing events that come as a surprise and have a major effect that is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact, with the benefit of hindsight. Sounds like something appropriate for today’s times, yes? Antifragile explores and reveals how we can thrive, not just survive in an uncertain world. Taleb professes that we need to make uncertainty desirable and even necessary. I’m not sure how we intentionally get our brains to see uncertainty as positive. I don’t know if that’s even possible. But I do know it comes with practice and there are strategies we can employ and here’s one that has helped me. I say to myself “Here’s what I don’t know, but I’m going forward based on what I do know.” I really self-talk myself and say that the mistakes I make won’t be as bad as standing still.” There’s no shortage of situations that arise for me to use that line. Do I make mistakes, absolutely! Do I feel good when I do? Absolutely not. But I sincerely trust that each mistake and the stress I feel is building my resilient muscle, just like exercise builds my muscles. No pain, no gain. And the good news is that the stronger I get the more I can help others do the same. Not by holding the barbells for them, but by leading by example and “giving an assist”, only when asked, because it’s really needed. What a cool way to eliminate the YOM’s!

No matter how you are personally impacted by this unique situation we all find ourselves in, please know that together we can embrace the uncertainly we’re feeling to create really cool outcomes. Let’s join forces in being uncomfortable and please share some of your positive outcomes in the days and months ahead!

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