I often hear people say, “I never get time for me”. Do you hear that, or similar? Do you say it yourself sometimes?
Here in the UK (if you’re elsewhere, is it the same?) we are brought up with messages like “always look after others before yourself” and “don’t be so selfish, think about other people”. When those are the things you’ve been consistently hearing, it’s no wonder you’re running around looking after everyone else’s problems and never feeling like you have time for yourself.
People use phrases like “I’m frazzled”, “I haven’t got the capacity”, “I’m overloaded”. But they still carry on doing the same things. It never gets any better or easier. Well, I’m going to tell it to you straight: if you always do what you always did, you’ll keep on getting what you always got.
It's true! Somewhere deep inside you, you probably know it. But we’ve been so brainwashed with the thought that we might be bad people if we put ourselves first, that we just accept it and get on with being stressed/frazzled/overloaded. Good for you, you’re an expert at it. But, I’ve got some news for you!
It doesn’t have to be that way!
My experience is, personally and with people I work with, that when you look after yourself and get your needs met you are much better able to take care of the needs of other people, whether they be clients, colleagues, family or friends. I know it’s counterintuitive but try it and you’ll see. Let’s think about how that plays out in a couple of scenarios, one at work and one at home.
At work, when someone asks you for help, do you often find yourself doing it for them rather than helping or guiding them or showing them how?
Although you feel good for helping them, you also feel more pressure because you’ve still got your own work to do. And it actually doesn’t solve anything because they still can’t do that thing and will be back again to take more of your time. In my world, they call that “learned helplessness”; in other words, you’ve helped them to become more unable to help themselves.
The solution is to do something about it. What if you said to them “what do you think the problem is?” Or “How would you suggest we deal with this?”. They’ll soon start to realise that they’d better have at least thought it through and have some ideas before coming to you. It starts to increase their confidence in their own abilities; and if you show them (rather than do it yourself) and let them do it, it may take more time initially but you’ll soon have much more time because you aren’t continually being disturbed.
At home you might have a similar situation: looking after friends and family, never getting time to sit and relax or take up a hobby. You can moan about it, or you can do something about it.
The solution of course, is to take action, to decide. Decide, for example, that you are going to take an hour a day to watch your favourite TV show, sit and read a book, go for a walk, learn an instrument, meditate, or whatever thing you want to do so that you feel valued by yourself.
It's not selfish! It’s sensible. When you have time to focus your mind on the things that make you smile and feel free, you’ll find that you have much more energy to deal with all the other stuff you have to deal with. If you need to, talk with the people around you so they know what you’re doing and why. I bet they’d love to see you more relaxed and happy.
Right, I’m off to do the crossword and have a cup of coffee. Until next week…
PS. You might like to look at my blog from August 12th on setting boundaries: https://www.davecordle.co.uk/blog/border-control-for-your-career
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