Many women, after having kids, have experienced a profound change in their physical body. This may include having more aches and pain, lower energy levels and usually less quality sleep. This lifestyle shift, usually results from an overwhelming want and need to be present for their kids and to put them first whenever there is spare time after work.
As a parent myself, I have been guilty of not looking after myself better, sacrificing my physical health for a combination of work and looking after my son. Somehow I felt that if I don’t give my best at work and at home, it is not just that I am a bad employee and a bad mum, but that I am a bad person. And I think many women can identify with that line of faulty thinking.
After more than 20 years of work as a physiotherapist, I realise that failure to take care of my physical and mental well-being, resulted in me being less able to take care of others, both in my professional and personal life. A large part of this, resulted from societal expectations, as well as, self-expectations, to keep doing and giving as much as we can.
Being in my 40s now, I have come to realise that a big part of this need to be doing and giving, is to cover up for the harder task of just being there for someone. As a parent, it might mean I do lots for the child, but I am never really with the child. A child can feel distant to his/her parent, even though the parent feels that he/she has done so much for the child. Being there for the child, might mean the hard task of helping a child make sense of negative emotions, like anger and sadness. Being comfortable to let the child express these negative emotions and still be there for them. Acknowledging how they feel and helping them handle their emotions well, can be harder than doing things for them, like fetching them to school or buying things for them.
Hence these days, I am learning to try to be more intentional to be a human ‘being’ not just a human ‘doing’. This means shifting from doing things for others to really being there for others. As a parent to my now teenage son, it means listening and waiting for him to open up. By being there for him, help him to trust in his own ability to make the right decisions and avoid jumping in with advice and solutions.
For my work, it includes slowing down and not imposing my agenda on my patients but really be present and listen to their stories, their fears and concerns. Letting them know they have been heard and understood, reassuring and affirming them, instead of focusing on the next physical modality, manual technique or fancy functional exercise to teach them. The practice of 'being', simply enhances the quality, effectiveness and even enjoyment of the 'doing' after.
Switching from focusing on human 'doing' to human 'being', I found a new sense of freedom, a new way of relating, a new frame of mind, new possibilities and a renewed sense of purpose. I encourage you to explore this with me if this blog post resonates with you. Share your experiences below:))