When it comes to your own wellness, are you acting in your own best self-interest?
Bet you dollars to doughnuts (my dad’s Iowa phrase–no idea what it means) that you’re not!
Our volunteers at Museum of Woman are expected to uphold wholesome values, but there was one they consistently flouted. I won’t keep you in suspense: it was the value of self-care. They work hard, they give much. They seem a bit tired. I ask them to take some time off. “No, no, I’m okay!” They keep going. Then suddenly, they disappear, never to be seen again. Hours of training down the tubes, a good team member lost. But they’re actually pretty much like everyone else. Overgivers, which is a path to burnout.
Of the four major archetypes, The Mother (applies to men, as well) is the worker, the caretaker, the provider, the one who gives, gives, gives. But we were never meant to live in one archetype all the time and doing so is hurting us. (The publisher is firmly holding me to 550 words, so we must consider it completely Mr. Ware’s fault that I cannot tell you about The Maiden, The Queen and The Wisewoman. Omigoddess … I’m at 248 words. We press on!)
Most women—and quite a few men—stay far too long in their caretaking Mother archetype. Without the balance of The Queen, the Boundary Holder, they become The Overgiving Mother—who seems just fine for a few years … but then … she’s vaguely disgruntled … a few more years … downright resentful … another decade … free-floatingly furious (and doesn’t know why) … hits her fifties … then often she gets sick … now in her sixties … and sometimes she gets … dead. Disappears, never to be seen again.
After a decade of disappearing volunteers, I figured out: most were too much in their Overgiving Mother and not enough in their Self-Caring Queen. Most people do not consider themselves a “violent person.” Here’s a shocker: you may be. No, you would never do violence to another life, but you are willing to do violence to yourself by not acting in your own best self-interests, by not taking care of yourself. Are you too not “life?” If you are overgiving, you are violent towards life. Your life. Your being. Stop it!
That’s why it is now our policy that all volunteers take a month off every year. For years, each earnestly assured me they “didn’t need it.” But I learned that what they wouldn’t do for themselves, I would have to enforce by policy—even for myself—and that was the hardest, because I’d been the worst violator of all. We now close the Museum and everyone takes the entire month of January off. Hard on us financially? Yes. But it would be harder on us not to. Because we’d all be gone … or sick or dead from overwork.
What can you do in your life to act in your own best self-interests? Let us each acknowledge that we too are part of the Sacred Life That Must Be Cared For. Stop the violence—to yourself! Let somebody else be Mother once in a while.