Nurturing self and others could be seen as key to a fulfilled and well functioning life. The idea that we are not here in isolation, that we do not just simply exist but that we are here for each other in a complex world is not a new one. It has been confronted for centuries as humans struggle to work out ways to get along and meet each other's needs. Sometimes it becomes conflicted and wars erupt. Equally it can be harmonious and supportive of individuals and communities.
Caring for others can help bring out strengths and feelings we didn't know we had. This is none more so than when caring for a baby. The responsibility that comes with a tiny human being so dependent on adults around him or her can be overwhelming yet feel very significant. It can provide a sense of purpose and meaning to life. It can give a whole new perspective to what one's role in life is. It can bring out characteristics that have laid dormant or stifled for decades. Learning to know yourself can occur through the process of caring for another who is dependent upon you.
Throughout one's life there may be many occasions when this need to nurture others comes to the fore. We can recognise that life is not just simply about ourselves as individuals but much more about ourselves as part of a community, a member of a family or group. Others will have periods when they need us. They may well have times too when they need us less and want to go out into the world themselves and establish their own independence. Finding this balance and respecting the choices can be difficult at times but being there when nurturance might be sought can be reassuring for both people.
Over time the person seen as the nurturer may change roles to become the nurtured. The interchangeability of these roles is also what makes a community work well. Recognising that we all have strengths and vulnerabilities can be a valuable life lesson. Giving in to accepting help and support can be difficult when you have been the nurturer. It might feel humbling but also can feel human. Being grateful that the nurturing is available can help deepen understandings and relationships. It can help relationships feel more equal.
Nurturing oneself is also an important part of life. Being able to care and soothe oneself during difficult periods can help us to ride the waves of life. It can help us to experience and survive the tough feelings associated with loss and disappointment. It can also help us to appreciate the feelings that come when life is going well.
So life could be seen as a series of nurturing experiences. Nurturing ourselves as individuals, nurturing others particularly those most dependent upon us and being open to being nurtured at those times we need some support. Without these experience of nurturance our lives may feel empty and disconnected from others. The act of nurturing can be what brings us together, builds a sense of community and value ourselves and others.