Tanya Ruckstuhl LICSW
Lately I’ve been chewing on the balance between care of self and service to others. I believe we all exist in a web of connection. Consider the underground fungus: it transmits nutrients to tree roots, which keeps the trees alive and in return protects the fungus from drying out. If the fungus gives away too much of its nutrients it dies, and if it gives away too little, it struggles to live.
As humans, we hold this tension of self versus other constantly: Do we check in on our elderly neighbor or take those few extra minutes to savor some time alone?
Too much service to others creates depletion, resentment and fatigue. Co-dependents are not happy people. They give and give, and exhaust themselves and wind up indignant and angry that their needs are never someone else’s top priority.
On the other hand, folks who only care for themselves, who spend their time and energy in sole pursuit of their own betterment suffer from isolation and meaninglessness. Without sustained and reciprocal connection to others, our existence lacks purpose.
I want to live in the intersection, to promote and protect my own well-being without apology while actively supporting the well-being of others. There’s a way to do this, but it takes a spirit of experimentation and willingness to make mistakes and plenty of time to get it right and then have the balance go and shift on you so that what worked at one point no longer works. No matter, its what we’re here for. Share your good stuff. Just make sure you keep some of it for yourself.