Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Give Yourself Permission

We are all busy, and there are so many demands for our time! We have to be here, take the kids there, go see parents, family, and friends. There are things you have to do for work, activities, parties, social outings, sporting events, organizations, I am sure you get my drift. Even finding time to read this newsletter may feel like reading a 100-page book to some of you. It has always amazed me how quickly requests for information, obligations, and invitations piled up. I would never be home, or even available if I went to every event I was invited to or said yes to every invitation I received, neither would you. I am always honored by the request that people send and I know that there are always some great events and experiences that I miss, but what about balance.

There was a time in my life when things got totally out of hand. I was trying to please everybody, I did what other people "expected and wanted me to do" because I didn't want anyone to be disappointed. I seemed to be going from place to place, smile, camera, and action, but I was stressed out, sick, tired, and angry, because I didn't have any time to do what I wanted to do. Although, they were all great things, work, church events, great causes, hanging out with friends and people who I loved and valued, my family and me were suffering because it was all TOO MUCH.

It all came to a head one night when I was driving home from church. I was livid that this cop stopped for "no good reason" and I had an attitude. He asked me if I knew why he stopped me and I had no idea. I was exhausted, and on autopilot, I realized at that precise moment that I couldn't even remember taking the 50-minute drive home. It was scary for me to think of what could have happened to my child, and me or what I could have done to someone else in that state of exhaustion. The nice police officer must have seen the shock on my face, and appreciated the honesty and let me go, but it was a sobering moment.

Something has to change!

My life was filled with obligations. I should do this and I needed to do that, but there were very few opportunities for me. I was guilty of giving more than I had to give, and something needed to change.

A Look Inside

For years, I had been encouraged to take one for the team. As I child, I remember being told not to be selfish, and to think of others, but this kind of thinking had almost gotten me killed. What I learned through this experience is balance is a gift you give to both yourself and others; you can't take care of anyone else, if you don't take care of yourself first. You are important too, and you need to honor yourself and the gift inside of you.

With that realization and some help I implemented these strategies, hopefully they can help you, as well.

1. No, IS your friend. Say no or say nothing, unless something really resonates with you, remember, your time is limited, if you say yes to everything you may end up shutting the door to something you really want to do. When we were 2 years old, we said no all the time, and it was fun. I encourage you to reintroduce the skill. No, is great, and it can protect you from saying yes to the wrong thing.

2. Ask yourself why? Why do I want to do this, is it so I don't hurt someone's feelings, or because I am afraid of what they will think or say if I say no, or is it something I really want or need to do? Occasionally, you have to take one for the team, but if that is every event or every invitation there is something deeper going on, be honest. You will NEVER make everyone happy, so at least, please yourself.

3. Do you really have the time? Look at your schedule; do you really have the time? Is this realistic, and what will a "yes" cost you. If you haven't spent any time with your family for a week, perhaps you need to say "no" to them and "yes" to your family. I don't know how many people have lost husbands or wives, or had their families fall apart because they felt neglected and didn't know how to tell the other person it was too much. People expect you to take care of your own household. You are supposed to set healthy boundaries so don't expect them to be there when it falls apart because you didn't use wisdom.

4. Ask yourself this question, If I said no, what is the worse thing that could happen? This is a great question because you get to come face to face with your fears. Most of the time our imaginations are on overdrive, we think of the craziest things the people who truly care about you will understand and accept no, it may take some time, but be honest.

I realize that this will be a big shift for some of you, it was a big shift for me, as well. The messages that we heard all our lives about how we should act are strong, and they are often validated by the people who don't want us to change. Give yourself permission to make time for you, not occasionally, but often, I know you can do it, and I can't wait until you see what happens when you do!

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