A Carer’s Role, Always Putting Others First, or Not?

From young very few of us are taught to deeply love, value and care for ourselves. As a result, feelings of inadequacy rise along with lack of self-worth. Add that to the competitive environment of school and comparison and jealousy is fostered.

Why is it that we are not taught to love ourselves. Why is it we are not taught how to navigate and be Masters of Life?  Why is it we are taught from the lowest common denominator that tells us we are less and in doing so creates an inner insecurity that affects every area of our lives?

On sharing ‘My Dad and Me; from selfless care to self-care’ with a group of unpaid family carers prompted them to reflect on their own caring relationships. Many related to the experience of putting the person being cared for first: before themselves.

But there was also hesitation and questioning.  Were there not certain circumstances when you had to put another first?  What if you were caring for a child or someone with a life-limiting health condition?  The majority, if not all felt that in these circumstances, it would be ‘hard’ if not impossible to put themselves first. One person hinted that to do so would be ‘hard’ and unfeeling.

What was revealed was putting others first was the accepted and expected norm and it went unnoticed within the group. But what was clear was that it came at a cost. 

One single woman described herself as ‘on the edge:’ Single and caring for two teenage boys on the autism spectrum, she was in overwhelm and believed she had no resources to bring herself back from the edge.  More so she knew not how she got there and or how to get out of where she was.

The women’s account of their experience of caring for another reflected the current paradigm of caring – a predominance of women carers, many groomed as carers from young to care for younger siblings. The role was not shared, the eldest girl usually bore the responsibility.  There are of course self-nurturing ways siblings can support each other, but when imposed and loaded with cultural and gender expectations, it does not self-nurture, but oppresses.

This group of eleven women a microcosm of the macrocosm, a snapshot of the level of ignorance and self-disregard that exists especially amongst women, engineered from birth for eons, until it became a norm. 

My observations, drawn from the wider view of women in particular, confirmed how they are systematically indoctrinated by life to express in ways that say; “I am not beautiful, resourceful and powerful”, “I do not have a voice” or “I am not good enough”.  These women have started to become aware of thoughts that tell them they are unworthy. With this inner-dialogue, it is often unfathomable for women to connect to their true inner beauty.

This powerful indoctrination begins at birth and can often be fuelled by religion. One woman, convalescing from pneumonia did not know how to live and be self-caring. She had birthed and nurtured five children to adulthood, but her own self-regard was non-existent. In her mind she was unequal.  When asked why she constantly allowed others to interrupt her daily rest period by answering the phone, she said it was against her religion to put herself first.

What are we being taught or modelled throughout life if what is inherent within each of us, that is a deeply loving and caring way with ourselves, is no longer present?

When we put others first, we continue to diminish our sense of self, we live in the shadow of others and live lesser lives to that which is of our true essence.

I know this from my own experience of growing up with insecurities, anxieties, and lack of focus. Always looking out, forever supporting others, always being the good friend, teacher, aunt, putting others needs before my own.

Before being introduced to the Ageless Wisdom teachings, not once did I relate to myself as a person of worth, truly valued myself, or took true responsibility for my own life. Life happened to me.  I was not schooled to be a master of life but be mastered by life.  This is by design.

To truly love, care and nurture, we must re-learn to love ourselves and putting ourselves first is foundational, not a luxury.

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