A reader (and old friend) has been struggling with trying to do it all herself. She has been wearing her cape for a long time as superwoman and feels she is slowly falling apart. As much as she knows intellectually she cannot be super-woman (or super- mom) all the time she struggles with how to be ok with not being that woman. She shared the following with me: “I really feel like I’m letting everyone down (especially myself) for not being able to [do everything and keep it all together] and then admitting defeat by saying I can’t do it.” What she is really looking for now is how to be at peace with this version of herself.
If there’s one thing I have learned in this life it is this – if one person expresses a feeling, struggle, view etc usually there are many more people out there feeling the same. So I feel compelled to share the whole truth with you all – you can find balance in this life, but you cannot find balance and do it “all” when it “all” is too much. We all strive for different things and we all have different lives. Over and over again we women (it is usually us women) put such high expectations on ourselves. Something has got to give.
I had been thinking about what I would share in this post since last week. The irony is that today I realised I too had been pushing myself too hard and juggling too many balls. Now what I am juggling might not be too much for someone else, but I know myself and it is at the point where I know something has to give.
Unfortunately for too many of us what “gives” is the time we take for ourselves, the care we need to stay healthy, the self love that used to tell us we were rocking things! We pile on more and more things into our lives – and they are often good things, but even too much of a good thing is simply that – too much. We start focusing on what we are not doing and how we are not measuring up.
I have talked about self care before and how dangerous it is to keep giving yourself the leftovers. I even had Cherie from A Baby Called Max come and share her story as she had ended up in the hospital. I don’t think I can talk about it enough though.
We are all given the same amount of time in a week but that is just our starting point. The more responsibilities you add on, obligations you feel you need to honour, standards you need to meet, and people you need to carry, the less there is left for you.
When you feel ill from stress or lack of self care listen to your body.
When you cannot sleep because the stress is so great listen to your heart.
STOP and take a moment and start with you.
What do you need in your life? What do you need to feel healthy and cared for and strong? What do you need to feel supported and valued and loved?
YOU are worth being honoured and cared for and nourished.
If there is no time for you then something else needs to go. Self care is not selfish it is essential. The form it takes will be unique to you. Self care does not mean just having me-time or having a bath or reading a book, although all those things are forms of my self care. Self care really is about honouring our needs and not putting them beneath the needs of others all the time. Self care means respecting your limits without feeling like you should be able to do more -more than what? You do what you can with the time and energy you have and don’t push yourself beyond that point. There is a reason they call it a “breaking point”. That is what self care means to me – honouring and taking care of yourself, however needed, to stay outside the “breaking point” zone. Only you know where that line lies for you and only you can control whether you cross it or not.
Taking care of your needs does not make you selfish it makes you smart.
Sometimes we have to learn to say no.
Sometimes we have to step away, switch off and take a break.
Sometimes we have to leave something undone, unmade, or imperfect.
Sometimes we have to let ourselves off the hook, let go of the guilt and … (do what you want or need right now).
You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love & affection. ~Buddha
As to how to be at peace with that I think a good place to start is to think – what would you say to your best girlfriend if she came to you with the same situation?
What would you say to your child if they came home with a grade of 80% on a project or exam?*
Be as kind to yourself as you would be to them.
Then I want you to look at all you did achieve and get done. Focus on the positives and allow yourself to aim for less than 100%. Good time managers know how to put their energy into the things that truly count. For the rest – delegate more, say no more, do something “just enough” to be okay. Do what is important in the time you have available and then – stop – just stop and say enough. Save something in the tank for yourself (or better yet take care of yourself first).
Self care is self love .
Find your simple,
* If your child came home with 80% as a score and your reaction is “where did the other 20% go” I would like you to read about letting go of perfectionism please!