Taking Care of Oneself
I am a survivor of the Holocaust. I was six years old when we were taken to a concentration camp. After the war, I actually went hungry until the age of eleven when we emigrated to Israel. But there I had it not easy either. I had to work from the age of 11 to support my family.
All in all I had no childhood.
This became clear to me only as I am writing my autobiography.
I came to the realization that by having no carefree childhood, I do not know what it is to just have fun and do nothing. Never did. I do not know what it is to be just happy. Never experienced that.
I was talking to a neurolinguistic coach. I told her about this revelation I have arrived at as I was writing my book
She asked me if I have a picture of myself from that age, from the time of the war.
I said I do. And come to think of it I look so sad in that picture. A little kid being hugged by an older girl whom I loved ( She was a daughter of an Italian officer and only two three years older than me. Italy occupied Pristina, the place we were hiding in at the time) I was so scared she will discover that I was Jewish and her father would kill us all. Could not smile, not even for a picture.
The coach suggested I take this picture with me wherever I go. And commit myself to take care of this little kid who never had a childhood. My name growing up was Izzy. “So to take care of Izzy. Imagine you are his father now. What would you do for him?” she asked.
That afternoon I took Izzy for a walk around the lake. We were in Bled, Slovenija. I held his hand, and we talked. Talked for a long time. And, I bought him an ice cream. And, I told him not to be scared anymore. That I will be there for him for as long as I live. And that I would never let him down. And I told him that l love him very much and hope that he will eventually smile because life does offer opportunities to smile and love.
I had the best time ever.
I hugged little Izzy and promised to take him on another walk soon.
What happened here?
“Me” and “I” are not the same and “I” have to take care of “me.”
Let me explain.
Adizes theory says success is from the inside out. But this formula has a meaning in personal life too. Not just business.
How “close” are you to your childhood? Close your eyes and imagine yourself as a kid. How does it feel?
Let us go beyond memories.
Are you in touch with your heart?
I remember a doctor gave me once his stethoscope to listen to my own heart. He asked me : “Can you hear your heartbeat? It is beating for YOU.”
I cried. Yes I did. I am not ashamed to admit. That heart was there working so hard to keep me alive, and I never paid attention to it.
I have been taking my heart for granted. And my kidneys for granted. And my lungs for granted. I have never stopped to ask them : “Hey, how do you feel?” Never took real care of them. They were there with me from the day I was born. Like little Izzy has been with me for a long time but I never paid attention to them. They were “there” somewhere like passengers on a bus I drove . They were not ME. They were “them.”
All my life “ME” was my brain. That is it. Just a brain. A walking brain. All the others were passengers. I identified only with my brain and worried only about HIM.
Sad, but true.
Interesting but what now?
Take care of the little Izzy in you. When you get up ask your heart “Hello, how are you today?” And your lungs, and your body. And your emotions too: “How do we feel today?”
Start the day “ together” otherwise in the rush of modern life, your body goes one way, your mind another way and your emotions go to hell…
Periodically bring your “ME family: mind, body and emotions together.” Let your spirit do the integration.
Do that consciously. As a ritual.
Now, when I finish taking a shower I stop and check my body. Check my skin. And put some body lotion on my body. And check it if it is ok. And shave slowly. And check my face. And smile at myself. And feel ok at getting older.
It is a full time job to love oneself.
But it is worth it.
Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes