In this crazy time when we are determining what is essential and what isn’t it dawned on me. HEY - YOU are essential too! And now more than ever, you need to know that, embrace that concept, and find a healthy balance of taking care of everything, everyone, and yourself. Sounds impossible, right? I get it. Even though it would seem like things have slowed down and there is less to do, emotions are high and the stress and anxiety cocktails are flowing. How can you compartmentalize the tasks while separating the feelings so that you can handle it all with grace and balance? Yeah, I don’t know either but I’m going to help you figure it out.
Did you forget about you? It’s ok, to be honest, and admit it, it’s easy to do. When we are faced with challenges beyond measure it’s natural to move swiftly into problem-solving mode. Well, of course, there is the mini-meltdown and whoa is me pity party of one but THEN it’s problem-solving. What can I do to get through the day with the least amount of damage and lasting scars? But when the challenge is widespread and everyone in your immediate circle is feeling the pressure it’s natural to try and take on the world and lose yourself in the process.
Not only is it about logistics, food, laundry, income, homework, toilet-paper….it’s about emotions. Feeling down, frustrated, overwhelmed, scared, depressed, angry. When you try and manage these feelings for everyone you are concerned for, your resources will become depleted with nothing to nurture yourself.
But you’re the rock, right? The only one who plans, organizes, knows what’s going inside and outside the home, the only who can find anything or fix anything. At least, that’s what you’ve told yourself and conditioned those in your household to believe. How could they possibly manage without you?!? Well, we’ll get to that.
With that kind of pressure you’ve put on yourself, how could you find time to take care of your own fears and feelings?
I think the first thing we need to do is to re-engineer the way you see your role. You can gain some much-needed freedom just by getting a different vantage point. That’s really all it is. Back up and look at the bigger picture. I say it all the time but when you are too tactical you can’t be strategic. Since I’m a visual learner let’s paint a picture that might help illustrate this better. Imagine digging a ditch. You are in there head down just digging away. At some point, if you don’t step out and set your sights on the horizon, where do you think you would be? Imagine the line that ditch would take. Another one I like to use is chopping your way through a jungle unable to see what’s in front of you. You just keep pushing forward, hacking away. If you could get an aerial view, ie; the bigger picture, you might be able to save yourself a lot of time.
That’s what we are trying to do here, save us a little time and a little heartache. As with any good process, your goal is to make it more efficient, impactful, and successful. Couldn’t you do the same thing with life? Now granted, you can’t prepare and plan for everything - look where we are right now for instance. Sometimes we learn very valuable lessons through trials and tribulations. Others come from enlightenment and revelation and sometimes, it’s a golden nugget of wisdom or experience that you receive at the most perfect time.
Are you overly empathetic? Or Sympathetic? The difference between the most commonly used meanings of these two terms is: sympathy is feeling compassion, sorrow, or pity for the hardships that another person encounters. empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of another.
I used to think I was overly empathetic and would give the example that I could never work at a prison because I would feel so bad for them. Not bad enough to slip a file into a cake or anything but just sad that they were being prevented from all the wonderful riches of life. I was worried I would take that home with me and affect my own emotional health. I genuinely care about people. Much deeper than the rhetorical all American greeting “how are you”. I do really care. As a life coach and a support group leader, I have the opportunity to listen and share with a large variety of people. The issues and concerns are wide and deep. But what I’ve learned is you can listen, understand, have compassion, even offer support but in the end, everyone is in the middle of their own journey. We can accept help and even be guided along the way but the mast majority is up to us to figure out. So it’s important to let everyone experience their life the way it was meant to unfold.
Doesn’t that provide a huge sense of relief? If you could truly adopt that idea, can you see how it removes the pressure you might have been feeling? You can be there to love and support and even offer guidance but the ultimate responsibility is not yours. You are only in charge of your life.
Does this sound familiar to you? It’s easy to justify these feelings with the stance that you just care, maybe too much, or that you are just trying to help. There is plenty of time to take care of yourself, what’s really important is everyone else’s needs.
I really thought I was doing it all and doing it all successfully. Perfectly positioned in the ditch and working my fingers to the bone to get somewhere. No clue where just burying my head and working harder. All the time trying to control, carry and fix everyone around me. Don’t get in my path with a problem or I will drop everything and try and fix it right then and there. Can you imagine what my ditch must have looked like from an aerial view? ZIG-ZAG or even around in circles.
If I could have reached that higher vantage point sooner, I could have saved myself and others so much time and heartache. Hindsight, right? Today, I’m so glad I’m there. It doesn’t mean it’s not still a knee-jerk reaction but I’m aware and that’s the first step to change.
Remember to be kind to yourself through the process and repeat the following affirmation: I respect and love myself enough to recognize when something isn’t healthy for me, and I am confident enough to set clear boundaries to protect myself.
Do you feel strong and in charge? If you’ve been practicing all that we’ve mentioned prior to the alternative, just know, there is nothing inherently wrong with you. It’s ok to care and caring too much allows for life lessons as well. So you’ve done nothing wrong here. But as always, we are trying to achieve balance for an optimal life. So digging, uncovering, exposing, treating, and practicing a new behavior is healthy and can happen at any point in your journey. We are always learning and evolving so it’s never too late to let go of behaviors that no longer serve you and adopt healthier ones. You ARE essential and YOU deserve the time and attention. Remember, this is your journey, and the way you chose to travel and what you ultimately achieve is up to you.
CHALLENGE: Realize the overwhelming feelings you are having isn’t a result of having too much to do but instead, an out-of-balance sense of responsibility. Remember your needs both physical and mental, are essential. Begin letting go and channeling your energy into healthy boundaries that will protect and guide your journey.
I Know YOU Can Do It!