Have you ever discovered new wisdom by simply taking a close look at words in a sentence? This week I stumbled upon the subtle difference is the word term “Taking care of” and “Taking care for” someone. When we have children, we take care OF them until they are able to take care of themselves – and hopefully this coincides with adulthood!
However, when we are talking about independent adults, we can only take care FOR them! What I mean by this is that we can give loved ones our well-intentioned advice, our love, and our caring, but only they can take care OF themselves. Behaviors are always the responsibility of the individual (unless rendered incapable such as someone confined with Alzheimer’s or other affliction).
Our job is to take care OF ourself – our well-being, our feelings, our own happiness and no one else can do that for us (nor should we expect them to do so in the world of healthy relationships!) I realize that in my co-dependent former relationship with the father of my adult children, there were unrealistic expectations that we would take care OF each other. Now in a healthy emotional state, it is clear that our relationship was doomed from the onset – we can only ever take care OF ourselves and hope that in a loving relationship someone cares FOR us. When we expect someone else to take care OF us – we will never be happy.
Today, I do not expect nor would I ever want anyone outside of me to take care OF me! It is my responsibility to take care OF me, and if someone in my future comes along who would care FOR me (i.e., love me as a partner not as a co-dependent taker), that will be an interesting and unexpected surprise. But no matter, taking care OF myself is number one and will always be.
One snippet I read some time ago stated that we need to keep OUR cookie jar full (in other words satisfy our own needs) first before we care FOR others! Too often (especially as women) we are taught to make sure that everyone else’s needs are satisfied first and there is no one left to take care when we need anything. We need to take care OF our needs first – similar to the safety announcements on airplanes that say “put on your own (oxygen) mask first BEFORE assisting others.”
Just some food for thought. Take care OF yourself, and then take care FOR others. (Not the other way around!)
Wishing you a happy hump day (Wednesday)!