More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
You Come First!
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
by Debra S. Gorin, M.D.

A selfish idea? YOU come first? Hardly. The literature of all faiths urges believers to care for themselves. For instance, the clich? "Love thy neighbor as thyself"? assumes that you first are able to "love"? yourself. Perhaps "love" is the wrong word these days. The concept, however, is still valid. You can only care for others as well as you know how to care for yourself.

Think for one moment. How many people rely on you? How many people are affected by how you feel every day? Spouse, children, in-laws, employees, co-workers? Even the check-out worker at the grocery is influenced by how you feel as you pass through his or her life. If you have not taken care of you, then all these interactions can be negative or even hurtful.

Somehow we have in our society come to believe that to be a good person, we must give, give, give. Time, energy, affection, money. It's all expected to flow out from us to others. Endlessly. The more we do, the more we give, the better person we are. Or so we've been trained to believe.

But emotional energy is like a bank account. One cannot continue to make withdrawals and not expect the amount to shrink. What can we do if the account is emptied? Then there is nothing left for all those people who need that piece of us.

Only one person can make deposits in that emotional energy bank. You! That is why YOU come first. You are responsible for keeping that emotional bank full. Only you.

"YOU COME FIRST" urges a new concept: mental wellness. Most people think of psychiatry as an experience to be had after a crisis. That's wrong. These days we eat healthy and exercise to avoid a heart attack. We lose weight and stop smoking to prevent the stroke. We should also exercise our emotions to determine how we can be as emotionally healthy as possible. If we truly recognize how important we are in our families and our communities, then we will take the steps to examine the emotional side of our lives. Counseling, massage, relaxation therapy, sleep assistance and other tools are all a part of helping you understand that you come first. This is not selfish a thought. It is, in fact, the way you can guarantee that you will always be there to give to those who need you.
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