Since the New Year has begun, of course I've been trying different things to better myself. I have never truly cared for the “New Year, New Me” mantra but there’s something refreshing about feeling as if you have a fresh start, a mental clean slate so to speak. So I’m fully embracing doing things that are beneficial for me without feeling guilty doing so. I have the tendency to overextend myself to people because I have the time. The things I may do for others is not harmful to me, but it’s not beneficial either. There’s only one person benefiting in the situation and it's not usually me. I never mind doing things for others when I’m available but as I get older I’m starting to see time is the most expensive thing on the planet. The most amount of money couldn't buy time back. It was extremely uncomfortable for me to say no at first. For example, I spend a lot of time with my family and although it’s something I enjoy doing, I don’t want ALL of my spare time to be with my family. My sister wanted to take my niece to a Winter Wonderland event downtown that had a lot of cute, kid-friendly activities. It sounded great! I intended to spend the day cleaning, doing laundry and reading. Although these things are not too demanding and could be done at a later time, they were still at the top of my list for the day. My sister didn't see it that way. She wanted me to join them, which meant spending money that I did not have to spend and most importantly taking away time from myself. The uncomfortable feeling built stronger each minute as I explained not wanting to go. It was almost unbearable to the point I wanted to give in, but I didn't. I chose not disregard what I wanted. Of course my sister was disappointed but she still went to Winter Wonderland and I cleaned, did laundry, and read my favorite book :-). Life still moved and I checked in with her the following day to see how my niece enjoyed the event.
At times it feels as if we must do things for others in order to keep them happy while neglecting our own happiness. It’s difficult especially when you play the supportive role in a lot of peoples’ lives. You don’t want to let them down. You want them to know you do care about them, but overextending and neglecting yourself is not love, it’s a boundary issue. The extent of love from your family and friends should not be measured by things you can or cannot do for them. Know the role you play in others lives and understand you cannot support those in need if you are not taken care of first. The agitation, worry, and stress that builds-up from putting your needs and desires on hold only increases until it is released usually in an unhealthy way. Those feelings cannot dissipate until those tasks are completed. Here are few tips to incorporate yourself into your life ;-)
1. Practice telling people No. (Even though people say an explanation is not warranted, if you do care about the other person’s feelings then a short, to-the-point, honest explanation can be given in order to prevent the infamous follow-up question; “Why not?”
2. Don’t ask them to ask you later if you truly don’t want to participate in the invitation. (Telling people no is uncomfortable but denying someone on a second attempt is even more uncomfortable. Be straightforward from the beginning)
3. Designate a day where you do things for others.(Call on some friends/ family and check-in on them. See if you could be of assistance. It does not have to be the entire day but pencil in a few hours to do something for someone else.)
4. Schedule days you do things for yourself and don’t stray from it. (If you know ahead of time what you want to do for yourself then it’ll be easier to say no to invitations from others)
5. Accomplish something for yourself on a daily basis. (No matter how small it is, pick out something you’d like to do and do it. If you leave everything to one day, the overwhelming feeling of getting them done will inhibit you from starting. Learn to maintain your needs.
Gravitate to what serves you and listen to the positivevoice speaking within you. It is your guide.
Until next time, live freely,