It’s been one of those weeks. The ones where you feel rushed and overwhelmed but can’t really identify a cause. Could be the combination of a busy week in my day job, tired and emotional behaviour from the 7-year-old, or just the normal juggle of where I need to be and what I need to do. So like I said nothing significant but it has definitely forced me to stop take a breath, step back and observe what is going on.
And here’s what I’ve realised.
Although I’m pretty good at saying No when I feel I need to, what I recognise is that I have this driving force within me which pushes me to be productive and out there in the world doing things. It feels abnormal to wake up on a Saturday morning without a check-list of what is on for the day. If I don’t have one, it’s not long before I’ve created one and allocated tasks to my family who roll their eyes with a “here we go again.” I’m definitely the girl that gets things done and is known to be the organiser, and whilst I see this as a useful quality at times, today even I’m finding myself overbearing. Sometimes this relentless feeling of push push push just wears you down, but the good thing is these days I’m recognising it earlier.
Are you guilty of telling people you are busy all the time? It seems to be my standard response these days. “How’s your week been...…oh busy and yours?” Really I’m not that busy I just have many balls in the air from different parts of my life, and combined they are making it feel busy, but what does that mean anyway. Aren’t we all busy? I’ve decided to change the record because ultimately I am reinforcing a message to myself which isn’t really true. Yes I have many things on in different areas of my life. They are all activities I’m choosing, so let’s just change the message to I have a full and eventful life. Busy implies stress, and I don’t want to take that on.
Just on that, when your life is full and eventful does your self-care slip down the priority list? I recently read an article by a female banker in relation to how women manage their money. Her summation was that women pay all of their expenses first and then pay into their savings last, therefore often having nothing left to contribute to a savings account. Her suggestion was we pay ourselves in savings first and then pay our expenses after, placing our personal savings at the top of the priority list. What a great metaphor for how we should manage our self-care. In my coaching practice this is what I teach others to do and today I can see there are certain self-care tasks I’ve let slip in the last few weeks such as walking, keeping up the healthy meal plans and making sure the fridge is stocked with fresh, clean food. Never mind aiming to get to bed by 10pm.
Then there is the classic case of the supporter who never asks for support. Sure I can do it, no problem, happy to help you out, yes I can organise everything. Whilst this is actually something that brings me quite a lot of joy, when I’m leading a full and eventful life occasionally I need some support. Asking for this is not my strength but over the last few weeks I’ve had to, and it’s been a great lesson in reaching out to others. It took me a while to learn this one. In my teens and 20’s I was a caretaker of others and whilst they benefited, I certainly didn’t take care of me and often found myself in the middle of stuff that wasn’t fun or good for me. So in my 30’s I took stock, and decided that care and support was a great trait to offer the world but it was time to bring a little of that energy inward. Going through fertility treatment forced me to get healthy in body, mind and spirit, then motherhood came along and it was out the door again as the needs of a little person took over. There had to be a better way because this constant expanding and shrinking of boundaries was not a healthy way to live. It was from this place I discovered the benefits of self-care and the impact it has for not only you but those you care for. Self-care became my mantra.
What does this have to do with asking for help? Well for me when my life becomes “busy” or “full and eventful” I notice that I revert to old patterns of behaviour, and that includes trying to do it all myself. There is also a streak of perfectionism that teases me to believe that my way is the right way so asking for help forces me to give my ego a huge slap.
Ask for help Jo…it doesn’t mean you are weak…just human!
Maintaining my need to be competent may be one reason I hate asking for help. When I was studying to become a coach we discussed something called fraud guilt. That voice that questions who you think you are to be doing this. Why would people come to me for that, who would pay me to be a coach, what experience do I have to be doing this? These are the questions I sometimes ask myself in my moments of vulnerability. Turns out many people across a variety of professions experience this and are surprised when they become successful at what they are doing or attract new customers to their business. I never expected this to sneak into my daily life but lately I’m pedalling faster to keep up with my expectations of self. Including the voice that says Jo you are a confident, capable, determined, striving woman who gives 100% in every part of your life.
I’m exhausted just writing that. Sometimes I just want to be the can’t be bothered Jo. She is vulnerable, tired, lazy, looked after (for a day or so) disorganised, messy and really quite chilled out. How would I be if I knew others were discussing my messy house, my disorganised life or heaven forbid I was late for dinner?
Maybe something for me to dabble in, so if I turn up late for a dinner party, just remember I’m trying something new, all for the purpose of personal development.
So where to from here? How am I going to manage my need to do it all, accept life is full because of my choosing and that sometimes stuff slips through the cracks.
This is what I’m currently working on.
Let go a little of my need for industrious enterprise. Does every weekend have to end with a successfully ticked check-list or could I just respond by easing into Saturday and watching it unfold? Would I be comfortable getting to Sunday evening and just looking back and saying…wow didn’t really do much this weekend? Today I gave it a go and I’m still standing. In fact, I’m quite chilled out tonight and might even make it to bed before 10pm! I even found time to write this blog.
I may say No to organising the next event. Don’t judge me, I’m just giving you a chance to practice your organisational skills and giving you the opportunity to shine. I’m being of service to others by putting my self-care strategy of saying No into practice.
I choose the variety in my life and I will consistently remind myself of this. Several years ago I left full time employment in one field so I could experience a variety of different business opportunities. I regularly catch up and communicate with close friends because it is so good for my soul. I hang out with my family because I love it and it keeps me grounded. And I spend time alone because this is how I restore my soul. I have chosen all of this so I can have a full and eventful life. Remember that Jo!
I could make it complicated but really it’s a very simple message. If you consistently move yourself to the bottom of your priority list and you do this on a daily basis you will feel depleted and resentful of where you are putting your energy. Feeling busy, sleep deprived, overworked and stretched doesn’t work for me so I only have myself to hold accountable when I do this, and make the necessary changes. I know what makes me smile, brings me joy and feeds my soul and thankfully it isn’t taking me as long these days to recognise it.
The more we practice new behaviours the sooner we build the neural pathways that create permanent change.
Right.…bed before 10pm tonight.
Love and light