Caring for Others Is Caring for Ourselves
Helping, providing, feeding, reaching out, listening, protecting, looking after, hugging. All of the actions related to caring require bravery and generosity, because they involve a lot of effort.
However, even though they can be difficult, they also bring us a lot of hidden benefits. It’s confusing to think that we receive something when we give to other people. Those who are less inclined toward being caring toward others have a hard time understanding why caring people do the things they do.
You don’t have to look very hard to see what distinguishes caring people from everybody else. All you have to do is just open your eyes and look. They listen to people who ask for something to eat, people who want them to sign a petition, people who want to chat for a while.
What does “caring” mean?
The word “care” comes from the Old English word caru. If you look up the dictionary definition, you’ll find words like: worry, concern, attention, solicitude, and protection. “Care” also refers to providing for, looking out for, or protecting someone.
Think of a time when you cared for someone or something, like your child, a pet, or a plant. Caring involves dedicating yourself them, putting your own needs aside, and paying attention to what they need.
The type of care needed is different depending on who or what is being cared for. You dress children, bring pets to the vet, and water plants. When you care for someone, the actual action isn’t as important as the attitude that you have towards them. You can even care for objects (like a car or a house), as well as abstract concepts (like ideologies and values), and it’s always the same: you offer them your time and dedication to protect them and make sure that they don’t become damaged or corrupted.
Do I have to take care of myself first?
You probably know the phrase “love yourself so you can love others.” It’s the same with taking care of someone. First, you have to take care of yourself so that you’ll be able to take care of someone else.
Here’s a practical example that shows how necessary it is to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others. Aviation protocol dictates that when turbulence occurs and the oxygen masks fall, we should put our own on first, and then help our children with theirs. Is this the behavior of a bad parent? Not at all. It means that you’re taking care of your physical safety so that you can take care of the child, because if you didn’t do it for yourself, nobody else would do it for you.
You can’t try to spend hours upon sleepless hours taking care of a sick family member if you don’t get any sleep. You need to be awake and able to pay attention to their needs. You’re not being selfish; it’s actually the opposite. You’re preparing yourself to help them in an intelligent, instead of desperate, manner.
Don’t confuse self-love with selfishness. Don’t feel guilty. Selfish people only help others because it inflates their own ego. People who have self-love realize that if they first respect themselves, it will be much easier to respect others.
Taking care of others is taking care of yourself
To quote another popular saying: “Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want them to do to you.” Or, in a more positive form, “treat others the way you would want to be treated.”
When you take care of someone, you should think about the way you would want them to take care of you. If you were sick, what would you want your caretaker to keep in mind? If you were a child, how would your mother or father protect you? When you get old, how do you want your loved ones to take care of you?
Taking care of someone is one of the most noble things that we could aspire to do. It makes us useful and valuable to ourselves and others. Maybe God, or Karma, or the world, won’t thank you, but your heart certainly will.