Last night, my friend asked me if I was taking good care of myself. I answered honestly saying, “not as well as I would encourage others to take care of themselves.” The distinction put a smile on her face – I didn’t beat myself up and say “not as well as I should” (I hate that word should!), but instead put it in the context of how I would typically guide others.
Like many people, I am excellent at giving advice to those around me and helping them see it through, but not so much for myself.
What is it about our ability to give amazing advice to someone else, but when it comes to ourselves, we fall short?
Go on, I dare you. Give me a health or well-being related problem to solve – I will spring into action and set us forth on a collaboration that results in excellent suggestions, and a plan outlining small changes you could start making today that will resolve your issue. I can objectively zero in on key strategies, and simplify how you tackle them.
However, when it comes to me, it’s not so easy. History and emotions get involved which could cloud my perspective and muck up priorities.
Let’s take my knee, for example. I know the exercises I need to do. I know I feel better when I do them. I know it will help me heal faster. However, when I get caught up in my day, the next thing I know hours have gone by and I have only done them once. Now if it were YOUR knee, I’d be up your butt making sure you did the exercises like clockwork!
Why are someone else’s problems more important than our own? According to a recent Forbes article by Data Freaks, it’s the Solomon’s Paradox – “The Biblical King Solomon, known for his keen intellect and unmatched wisdom in guiding others, failed to apply wisdom in his own life, which ultimately led to the demise of his kingdom.” The author and his partner ran a series of studies and found that, similar to Solomon, “many people show some wisdom when considering other people’s problems, but when the time comes for them to tap into that wisdom, they fail to act on it themselves.”
Interestingly, if there was “verbal distance” (using third person pronouns rather than first person pronouns), individuals could tap into their own wisdom and reasoning. Having perspective outside of yourself seems to result in an openness of the heart, and permission to take the advice. Almost like a lifting of any perceived weakness to needing any guidance.
What does all this mean? Well to me it means that if we need to look at ourselves as a friend in order to treat ourselves better, then let’s do it! We say things to ourselves we would never say to anyone else. You know what’s right for you – let’s break down any barriers preventing you from fulfilling your goals.
If you had to give yourself a (kind) piece of advice right now, what would it be? Imagine you had to guide a friend experiencing the same issue. How would it differ?
Pinpoint the best counsel, and break it down into small, achievable chunks so that implementing it is feasible and feels easy. Now start taking your own advice!
Take note: Does changing the conversation to be about someone other than yourself help you gain a different perspective? Interesting, right?
I realize this is a lot easier than it sounds. As I’ve said before, I’m not perfect and I sometimes find the whole day has gone by and I haven’t fulfilled some simple promises I’ve made to myself – practiced deep breathing to control stress; hydrated enough; done my physical therapy exercise all three times; made that social call I’ve been wanting to make. Like I wrote in my last blog entry, “I do the best that I can” to practice good self-care.
I admit, I do get exasperated when I see others self sabotage - it’s painful to watch someone you care about put himself or herself last.
So why would I do that to myself? So today, I want you to give yourself a kind piece of advice. Not the “I feel fat so I am going to starve myself today” punishing kind of advice. Instead, the “I know I need to reduce my stress level, so I’m going to do deep breathing exercises for one minute right now, and thus fully oxygenate my body, better digest my food and improve my focus. Heck I’m going to set my alarm and do it three times today” positive kind of advice. Gosh I feel great even thinking about it!
Let’s set a goal of taking as good care of ourselves as we would suggest to those around us. Please share with me today’s advice, and let’s support each other to make it happen.
Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™