ME TIME: The Greatest Form of Empathy
Given that we are now six months into this COVID-19 pandemic, “ME TIME” is all the more important. I do believe many of us have had our fill of social distancing. That being said, social distancing remains necessary to keep as many people as safe possible. This is a new era where it is really important to be very conscious of how our actions are affecting each other and the environment and act with the end result in mind. Therefore, I would like to offer emotional support to you all by offering solutions to reduce your stress during these stressful times, which brings me back to the topic at hand, “ME TIME”!!!!
In my previous blog, I discussed “ME TIME”. We all really do need “ME TIME”! Which is why I am devoting more than one blog to the subject. In my last blog I said, “So WHAT is this “ME TIME” that I am describing? ME TIME is a designated time in your day where you actively reflect on your life. It is not time to binge watch your favorite Netflix or play your favorite game. This is time dedicated to realign your life. If you have not designated 15 minutes -1 hour of each day that is SOLELY dedicated to yourself. Please, I beg you, do that now. Your family and friends will thank you for it. “ME TIME” is your time to reflect on your life and make changes. You are the captain of your ship and sometimes that ship goes off course….or into uncharted waters. “ME TIME” is when you steer your ship; it is a necessary time each day to assess where you are and what you are doing.
As I said before, “Key components of structuring your me time include using this time to :
1. Discern your needs. When we discern what our needs are- this action is called self-empathy. Self empathy requires an awareness of who we are and what we are doing. It requires an awareness of whether we are feeling satisfied with the results of our activities or not. Needs are the components of life when fulfilled bring up pleasure and satisfaction and when not fulfilled gives us pain and discomfort and leaves us feeling dissatisfied. When we ask ourselves “What do I need?” This is the first step towards self empathy. Once we recognize what our needs are, then we can begin to give ourselves self-empathy.
2. Plan your priorities. Once you recognize your needs, then you can prioritize your time around your needs. Once you recognize the needs of others in your care you can prioritize their needs, too. This action of recognizing, prioritizing, and acting on the basis of the needs of others while simultaneously considering your needs and holding them equal is called EMPATHY. The more you recognize, prioritize, and act based on the needs of others the more you give to your family, community, and world. If you hold your needs equal in priority and meet them simultaneously, then you will not become depleted and your empathy actually becomes genuine, freely given, and sustainable.
3. Practice breathing, prayer or personal meditation. Practice breathing, prayer or personal meditation. This is a time to be still within yourself. Allow yourself space and time to breathe. This is time to hear your thoughts, feel you body, notice the aches and pains or the freedom from aches and pains. This is time to notice your level of satisfaction or happiness. And if you are unhappy, this is time to notice the unhappiness. It is time to question your unhappiness, and to seek answers for your sorrow. If you notice that the sorrow is overwhelming, this is time to commit yourself to getting help and support through the sad times. A person can move through times of immense sadness and depression with the appropriate care and support. Reach out to trusted family and friends if you need more help. Please do not suffer alone.
4. Give yourself empathy. After your personal meditation, it is important to give yourself more empathy. Empathy is a gift that only takes a moment to give. While sitting quietly reflect on what needs that you have. It helps if you have a working inventory or list in mind. Ask yourself, do I have enough trust in my life? Do I have enough love? Do I have enough peace? Do I have enough connection? If not, how can this part of my life grow and increase. What steps can I take today to increase my ability to meet these needs? These are your action steps for today, based upon your personal priorities, values and needs.
5. Celebrate with gratitude and mourn with gratitude. This is the perfect time to reflect and acknowledge the amazing things that you are doing each day which are meeting your needs. By acknowledging that which gives you great satisfaction, you are increasing your motivation to repeat those activities. By acknowledging that which gives you great disatisfaction you are able to increase your motivation to change those exact activities that lead to pain and distress. There is great personal power in acknowledging joy and sorrow.
Bring your ”ME TIME” to a close with thoughts of gratefulness for the day yet to come. Your day could touch the hearts of many and be the lifeline for an unknown few. Who you are in the world is even more important than what you do. Confidence, determination, meaning, purpose, and compassion come from within. During these difficult times, you have the ability within you to steady your head and heart to find your way out of darkness and find your best solutions.
“ME TIME” is a gift of empathy from me to you. I hope that you will take it with you.
Let me know how “ME TIME” impacts your life.
Please give it a try, ask questions, and comment below. Thanks so very much!!!
Jessica K. Hairston, MD