Do you care for your ‘I’?

I need space. I could put this another way in that my ‘I’ needs space. I need space away from all the pressures of life.

As I begin to write this, I am sitting in my truck on the way to work. It is dark outside, but I am alone and enjoying the opportunity to write.

Life can be so busy, frantic, and rushed that often we can skip taking care of the ‘self.’

Perhaps we undervalue our ‘self,’ we haven’t yet learned to love and respect ourselves enough to draw a line in our busy schedules to stop and take care of our needs.

This deficit leads to tiredness, fatigue, anger, and frustration with ourselves and others. We care for others but give little concern for our own needs.

We can also spiritualize this by believing that caring for others is more important than for ourselves. This is what Jesus would do, supposedly.

I remember in Sunday School learning, what I would now call a hideous little song, ‘J.O.Y.’ sung to the tune of jingle bells.

The J.O.Y. is an acronym for Jesus first, Yourself last, and Others in between.

This is a song that can set one up for a life
of slavery to the needs of others.

Jesus never sang this song and not because he didn’t know the tune. Instead, he said to love others as you love yourself. He also rested and took care of his needs so he could continue to minister.

He ministered out of a cup replenished from spending self-care time alone with God.

Years ago, a psychologist Renier Greef showed me a model called ‘I, We, Work.’

‘I, We, Work’

It is three equal-sized circles joined together to form overlapping intersections—a circle representing time, energy, focus.

I We Work Do you care for your 'I'I

The ‘I’ is all about you. What you like and dislike. Who you are specifically. How you are different from everyone else. That you are special, unique, and have qualities that unique to you.

The ‘We’ are those relationships close to you: family and friends.

The ‘Work’ is all those work activities you do—paid, unpaid, housework, voluntary.

I would also add another circle around all three of the other circles to have God encompassing all areas of your life.

A balanced diagram would have all three circles equal in size.

Life isn’t that straight forward, though. Typically either the ‘We’ or the ‘Work’ circles get over-inflated with the ‘I’ circle being sucked dry.

Out of balance I We Work

If you are supporting someone close to you with an illness, then the ‘We’ circle can expand and gain dominance, with the other circles shrinking. With lots of work and activity in your life, then this circle grows, and the ‘I’ suffers.

If you have narcissistic tendencies, then perhaps the ‘I’ circle swells and sucks the life out of the ‘We’ and ‘Work.’

The struggle point is in keeping the ‘I’ circle inflated appropriately and not to let the other areas of your life dominate or suck the life out of the ‘I.’

It’s all about Love and Respect. Loving yourself and others, respecting yourself and others, keeping your life in wholeness balance with an all-encompassing God who loves and respects you.

 Do you love and respect yourself enough to draw lines or boundaries around what you can and cannot do?

The healthiest people I know are those that take care of their ‘I.’ They keep the ‘We’ and the ‘Work’ in balance to their own needs.

They don’t allow others to suck the life out of them. They have come to realize, often through hard lessons, that if you want to give to others, then you have provided to yourself first.

That you can’t give from an empty cup. [pullquote]Just because you ‘could’ doesn’t mean you ‘should.'[/pullquote]

So they plan for healthy life-giving ‘I’ activities. They place their own needs as being just as important as anyone else’s. Here are a few examples

    • Gardening
    • Movies
    • Reading
    • Walking
    • Painting
    • Cooking
    • Scrapbooking
    • Surfing

Whatever regenerates you, then it is special for you.
Don’t let others define what is special for you! 

It doesn’t matter what others may think of it. If it fills your emotional ‘I’ tank, then make plans to do it.

By now, you are probably thinking of all the ‘but’s.’

But I don’t have enough time, but what will … think or do, but I’m not worthy of this.

This is called resistance. Its what you face into whenever you are going to make a change.

Please kick your ‘but’s’ in the butt and make some plans to care for yourself. You may just set a great example and role model to others that they need to take personal responsibility for themselves.

Here is what I want you to do.

Do one special activity for your ‘I’ today.

Take at least 5 minutes to do something special just for you. It is special for you, no one else. What would your soul most enjoy? A walk, some time reading, smelling some flowers, putting on your favorite music that nobody else likes.

For this moment, it’s all about you and caring for that dry and thirsty soul.

Then come back and share in the comments what you did and how you found it.

Barry Pearman

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