At Fresh Air Fridays we have a belief that to serve others well we need to start by looking after ourselves. We work with lots of people in caring positions and often come across people living very selfless lives. There is a tendency to believe that selfless is good. Perhaps in moments of crisis and in short term situations selfless has a place, but our experience is that it is unsustainable long-term.
Each of us has our own talents and gifts to bring to the world. If we are always selflessly focused on others, we lose ourselves and can miss out on the chance to shine. Filling ourselves up first is one of our core Fresh Air Fridays themes. It relates to us honouring and taking care of ourselves just as we are and just as we are not. When we respect ourselves enough to take the time to look after ourselves, we give others permission to do the same.
I have been participating in a course to take my speaking and stage presence to the next level. One of the things we have been exploring is the three circles of presence.
In the first circle we are introverted and self-focused, with an element of projecting into the past. The second circle I’ll come to in a moment. In the third circle we are in broadcast mode speaking at our audience, projecting forcibly forwards. This is a future focused place.
The second circle is the place in which we are most centred, where we are present and in this very moment. In this place we radiate a strong energy from our core. We are neither victim or aggressor, we are grounded, solid and connected. In this position we are strong, self-assured, comfortable with ourselves and resourced enough to support and connect with others.
In the first circle we are self-absorbed, in the second we are self-full and in the third we are self-less.
As I have brought this model into my awareness over the last couple of weeks, I have envisioned the second circle, or position. Picturing this state of real presence, like a plumb line hanging directly through my core. When I am not ok my plumb line swings off centre. If I am under-resourced that plumb line can swing outside my centre of gravity and tip me back into the introspection of first position or the insecurity of third.
Don’t get me wrong, there are certain times that first and third positions are necessary. If I thought a young child were about to run into the road I would certainly want to jump into third to stop them. If I were feeling unwell a certain amount of introspection may be required to tune in to give myself deep nurturing for a short period of time. Neither of these two positions however will be nurturing in the long run.
As human beings, most of us crave connection. Deep connection thrives on equality, we find equality in second position. Standing in our own strength, as neither too much or too little, no better than, and no worse than. But this position requires self-care. In the first position we can feel unworthy or a victim, and in the third feel that we have to put the needs and wants of others before ourselves. The most resourced place is the second position.
So you may be one of the lucky few born and raised in this second position, knowing your own value and worth without being superior to anyone else. For many of us, and for all sorts of reasons, that is not our experience. It may take effort in the beginning to find and explore the position of second circle. Self-care and self-awareness are at the root of that. Valuing yourself enough to meet your own needs and taking time to notice and meet those needs is fundamental. What that looks like for each of us will differ and may vary over time. Self-care for you might be around exercise, sleep, eating well, joining a choir, taking a bath or reading a good book.
The more able you are to meet your own needs, the straighter your plumb line will hang. The more you are within the second circle of energy, the more you will show up and connect in your life. Self-care is not a “nice to have”, self-care is at the core of your brilliance.
Find out more about what we mean by self-care visit our Total Wellbeing pages.