“I’m not sure how I could justify the time and cost of such indulgence to my family.” Reading that sentence made me sad. She was explaining why she wouldn’t be joining our creative reflective retreat. And as I read, I found myself face to face with the inevitable irony that hovers around this work, rooted in misled definitions and twisted yet dominant perspectives. Caring for the self is indulgence. Thus retreats and other events that promote wellbeing, and resilience are luxury, and therefore superfluous. This is what society tells us. And it couldn’t be more wrong. Paying attention to our inner and outer wellbeing and resilience is not indulgence, it is imperative. And it is the only way we will be able to continue serving others. A meme currently making the rounds on social media says it well: Remember to take care of yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Let’s be clear. While it may sound a bit fluffy, what we do in events like creative reflective retreats is not luxury. It is necessary, intense, and rewarding hard work. One of the participants in one of our retreats had this reflection: "I really thought that the retreat was excellent. It provided the space for peace workers to better connect with their own inner thoughts and feelings regarding their own personal peace. This I thought was excellent, too often we focus on our trauma, rather than our own inner places of peace." - Steve Killelea, Founder & Executive Chairman, Institute for Economics & Peace Five days set aside to focus on only ourselves may indeed seem indulgent when we have personal and professional commitments demanding our attention. Yet, do we owe it to our friends, family, colleagues, work, and volunteer activities to keep our cup full? Sometimes taking a few days to strengthen our own resilience is the best thing we can do for the people and work we care about.