Some of us ar awesome givers but not very good receivers. We don’t ask for support. We don’t admit to others or to ourselves that we need any. We don’t even like to accept compliments. We reside on one side of the paradox (“I have a duty to give to others”), but we have forgotten about its complement (“I have a duty to give to myself”). When that happens, the universe will step in to wake us up, to create balance, and to show us that we must honor ourselves too.
No matter who we are, life automatically apprentices us to the art of giving and receiving, and our lessons often begin with what we can see and touch-our bodies. They start with the questions joseph beana: Do you love yourself enough to honor your body’s needs? Do you give yourself the nourishment, rest, and recreation you deserve?
If you don’t willingly give that to yourself, your body will eventually make sure you get it. I saw this happen to an acquaintance I would spend time with a few times a year at business meetings. At one meeting, I asked how she was feeling, knowing that she had been recovering from a recent surgery. “I’m good, but busy again, ” she said with a frown. “If I don’t get some time off soon, I’m going to have to schedule another visit to the hospital! ” My heart skipped a beat as i realized that she might very well fulfill her own prophecy. She hadn’t learned the lesson her body had tried to teach her the first time.
I’m no stranger to these lessons myself. When i was recuperating from my own unexpected trip to the hospital, a friend who was a nurse insisted on dropping by a few times a day to make sure I had everything I needed. She could see I was having a hard time sitting still and accepting the fact that I should rest, so she appointed herself my guardian angel for the week. I kept telling her that i felt fine and there was no reason I couldn’t get up. Besides, there were so many things I needed to attend to. She didn’t buy it. Looking me straight in the eye, she said, “Your job now is to sit still and relax. ”
She went on to tell me that she was just passing on a lesson she had learned when she had gotten sick. Like me, she had wanted to bolt from her bed and get going. A mentor of hers, catching her out of bed, sent her right back under the covers. “It’s where you belong, ” she had told her. “You’ve been a nurse for so long that you think you should always be giving to others. Now you have to learn to receive. ” I could identify with that. I suspected that my tendency to work so hard for so long was partly what put me into the hospital in the first place. After my friend left, I sat back, closed my eyes, and promptly fell asleep. She was right. My body wasn’t quite ready to start giving again. Consider this scenario. You are in a hospital with a terminal illness, unconscious, connected to all kinds of medical machines, and has a very poor prognosis. Who will speak on your behalf during this time of illness? Who would tell the doctors, the nurses and your family members what your medical wishes are if ever you get into this terminal condition? Who would let your caregivers know what you would like to happen to you and your body in such a condition like this? Would you like to be kept alive by all means? Or would you rather decide not to be subjected to futile treatments knowing that this is not a dignified living for you? But how would you let everyone know all these wishes now that you are no longer capable of speaking up for yourself?
This is why Advance Health care Directives (AHCD) are very important. As a clinical counselor working in a hospital for several years now, I have personally worked with families and witnessed them break apart because they could not agree in making medical and end-of-life decisions for the dying loved ones. Their loved ones, who were unable to speak up for themselves, did not have an advance directive. Remember the Terry Schiavo case?
I have witnessed many cases where, because patients did not have an AHCD, families and caregivers are plagued with guilt and have constantly asked themselves if they were making the “right” decision for their loved one or for themselves. Yet, I have also witnessed many cases where, because patients had an AHCD, their families and caregivers felt at peace, in spite of the pain, just because they knew they were honoring their loved one’s medical wishes as reflected on their AHCD.