Updated: Apr 28
It’s been a busy week topped off by a busy weekend. I’m not complaining about it. Consider the alternative. I could be sitting here bored to tears there’s nothing going on in my life. However, when we’ve got too much on our plates, we have to remember to properly prioritize ourselves, or we’ll quickly be overwhelmed.
The reason I bring this up is because I lean toward people pleasing and perfectionism by nature. While neither have served me in the past, I still tend to trot them out and try them on again from time to time. And guess what? Same result! In the end, I feel used, or unappreciated, inadequate, or flawed in some way. Heck, even the dog makes me feel like I’m dropping the ball some days!
The need to be everything to everyone, all the time and be good at it too is quite simply unreasonable and unrealistic. It’s taken some time to step down from this line of thinking but slowly, I’ve been able to show myself a little grace and have learned a few key lessons along the way:
1. We have the ability to choose.
Choose what you might ask? Well, everything actually. You can choose to keep doing the things you are doing or stop. That’s right. If it’s no longer working for you, why do you keep doing it? I got caught in this, “but I can’t change…” mentality because I was concerned about the effect my decisions would have on others. In the long run, the most important impact to be taken into consideration was the impact on me. I’m not saying you go out and live a reckless life, just be mindful not to live a life where the value and comfort of others ranks higher than your own. Choosing you will make the most difference in the long run and the positive changes will benefit others as well.
2. We don’t have unlimited time so make the most of it.
In keeping with the theme of “we have the ability to choose,” we don’t have a lot of time to do it either. When you are younger you can’t wait to get older and when you are older you wish time would slow down. If you put things off because of fear or the judgements of others, you are doing yourself a disservice. No one wants to look back and think, “things would have been different if…” Just get started. Last’s week’s blog was all about continuing to learn. Don’t let anything stand in the way of exploring something new for you or making a decision that benefits you (within reason). It could be just the thing that makes this life worth living so don’t put it off. If it’s scary, take baby steps! Being scared can also be a little exciting.
3. Other people can take care of things.
If you’re anything like me, it’s not done right unless I did it. Wow that is wrong on so many levels! It’s this kind of thinking that traps you into doing too much because you don’t feel comfortable giving control to others. For some things, perhaps that level of oversight is needed but for 90% things I’m sure you can sing along with Elsa and “Let It Go!” Pile of dirty clothes? Teach the kids how to run the machine and then put them in charge of it from now on. Need groceries? Hand the list to your partner and send them to the store or direct them to Instacart. Big project at work? Make assignments to others on your team and manage the process. They got hired to work there too, right? Now, It’s hard. I know. All those scenarios make me a little bit itchy, and I feel a slight eyelid tick coming on. However, if I’m running all over the house sweaty, stressed, trying to answer email and cook a meal while others are watching television or taking a nap, who’s at fault here? Not them, I’m letting them off the hook out of my need to control things. You’re not giving away any of your power by delegating, you’re taking back your time and sanity. (And, if your husband folds the clothes, do everything in your power to resist the urge to re-fold them! It’s done. Let. It. Go.)
4. Doing nothing in an option.
Yes, I said it, and I’ll say it again, doing nothing is an option. Also saying no is an option. If you’re taking on too much you can always say no. If you’re tired, sit down. Most of us function in an “always on” mode and that leads to overextending and exhaustion. What if in the scenario of running all over the house sweaty, stressed, trying to answer email and cook a meal while others are watching television or taking a nap, you just sat down to watch or took a nap too? Would the world end? Nope. Maybe that stuff you were working on prior to your nap will still be there when you wake up but who cares? It will eventually get done. That “all or nothing” and “what will others think” mindset will keep you on the treadmill. Maybe you woke up and your family realized you were kinda tired, so they took care of a few things for you. That would be nice. (Probably not going to happen but I’m an optimist.)
Now, I don’t live in a fantasy world, and I know there are single parents out there and those that may not have the luxury of family for whom the lessons of this message might be difficult to apply. As the child of a single mother, I saw the struggle to maintain that balance. But I take the flight attendant instructions to put on your mask first and then help those around you seriously. You cannot be good for others if you cannot be good for yourself. You will win no prizes and there will be no plaques on the wall for the one that burns themselves out for the sake of others. As Dolly Parton said in the movie Straight Talk back in 1992, “Get down off the cross honey, somebody needs the wood.” There’s no need for modern day martyrdom.
Who or what is the priority in your life? Make sure you are at the top of the list.
Need support in getting back on track to putting you first holistically? I can help.
Take care and be well,