When my son was diagnosed with autism, all my energies went into finding services and resources to support him. But it didn’t take long to realize that I needed help too. I was in a constant state of hyper-vigilance. I was exhausted, frightened about the future and constantly feeling guilty that I wasn’t doing enough. I was often distracted when I was with my daughter or husband. And I began see my son as a project, rather than as a fully realized human being.

My search for some kind of balance led me to Mussar (pronounced Moo-sar), a centuries-old Jewish spiritual practice that addressed the struggle I was having as a caregiver.

The central premise behind Mussar is simple: If you don’t take sufficient care of yourself, you won’t really be able to help anyone else.

Mussar helps you create balance between self-care and care-giving with a toolbox of character traits, including patiencecalmnessorder and equanimity. Each character trait gives you new ways to understand self-care, as well as what it means to fully show up for the people you want to help.

The practice has been invaluable for me, so much so that I often share what I have learned in my clinical work with special needs parents and grandparents. So I am bringing the Mussar toolbox into my blog, beginning with patience.

Read more in Psychology Today