By Jennifer Beall
YourBalance Publishing, $11.99, 318 pages
Author Jennifer Beall wrote the manual for those of us who struggle with taking care of others but not ourselves. She gracefully leads readers through a well-choreographed dance rich with common sense, sensitivity, compassion and simple instructions for balancing techniques. But she doesn’t stop there. Beall offers suggestions on ways to deal with guilt and how to battle the resentment often felt towards those who demand our attention.
“One of the most important types of balance is the one between being who you think you should be and who you actually are. Part of that is finding the balance between taking care of yourself and taking care of others.”
Broken into four parts, “Me” Time offers not only the plausible rationale for taking care of yourself while taking care of others but also deeply explores the factors that keep us from doing so. She looks at unhealthy or unrealistic boundaries, low self-esteem, the inner child not being understood and the guilt of not putting others first. One poignant example she uses is when flying with small children, in a crisis, we are instructed to put the oxygen mask over our face first and then take care of the child. It makes sense. You can’t save your child if you can’t breathe. Or, there is the example of your bank account. You can’t write checks if there’s no money in it. If you do, there will be penalties. The same is true with our bodies. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t have the energy (in your bank) to take care of anyone else.
This book does more than just teach readers how to set boundaries so we can cope with the feelings of confusion or hurt. Each chapter offers a simple self-test that aids the reader in understanding where they stand with their own beliefs and self-talk and then ends with a Putting It into Practice section that offers case studies as examples. While readers will not agree with everything the author says (she admits to this), there are good lessons in behavioral balancing that offer merit to her arguments. The layout is a bit disjointed. Beall includes so much information which means some questions may be left unanswered. But it is an excellent beginning for those who need to learn the art of balance.
Reviewed by M. Chris Johnson