I can't talk right now. I'm battling a case of laryngitis and my husband may be relieved for the few days' rest. I like to talk. I like talking with other people, I like the talking involved in a coaching conversation, I like talking at work, at home, on the phone and with strangers on public transportation. In order to get better, though, I must stop talking, and moving around so much. I need to rest. BUT there's so much that needs to get done!
Have you ever felt like you needed to take some time for yourself but couldn't because the demands kept coming? I feel that way more than I would like to, and I suspect many of you do. Let's revisit our friend The Superwoman, shall we?
It's 11:45 pm and she walks slowly up the stairs to take off her cape. The day started at 5:00 am with her hitting the snooze button. She is supposed to get up and spend some time by herself before the rest of the house wakes up, but she was too tired from the night before. She tries to get to bed by 10 every night but hasn't been successful. "This year was supposed to be different," she thought to herself. The children's lunches have to be made, homework has to be done, she's studying for new credentials at work and is on deadline and we won't even talk about the marriage! It's January 26th and she's already exhausted.
Does this sound like someone you know? Yeah, me too. I have an acronym that may help you balance all of the things you have to get done with the BEST you need to be.
B: Boundaries. As women many of us are taught from the time we can understand, to be nice. As grown ups the message of being nice is often translated as "Be agreeable, be unstoppable at work, perfect at parenting and a master in marriage and relationships -- just don't say no." Boundaries identify what is our's to carry and and what is not. We become overwhelmed when we carry what does not belong to us. "No" identifies a boundary.
E: Expectations & Enablement: Do you expect others to manage their own loads or do you make provisions to pick up what inevitably gets dropped? Do you do chores for others because "it's quicker to do it myself?" You're enabling behavior that will sabotage your efforts to establish boundaries. Practice with me: "No. That is your responsibility. Let me know if I can help you." If smiling while you say it makes you feel better, do that.
S: Stick to your plans. Once you have set a direction that will free you to become your best self, stick to it. A lifetime of putting your own plans on the back burner isn't easily overcome, but it can be. Like any new habit, changing the way you relate to others and yourself will require practice. If you need to create a script that asserts your right to say No to others' expectations, do so and then practice in the mirror until you get comfortable saying it. It doesn't have to be a page long script, just two to three sentences. Try this one: "I understand how hard it is to manage all that you are doing, but I know you can. I have some other things I'm working on, but we can catch up after the project and you can tell me how it went."
T: Take time to get used to the new normal. This will be difficult for you but probably more difficult for those accustomed to depending on you. There will probably be times where you fall back into familiar patterns, but don't stay there. If you miss a day of exercise you don't write off your whole fitness program, so don't give up if you slip. Show the same determination with yourself that you have shown to others who "needed you" in the past.
If you do the work of standing up for yourself, family and relationships will become more authentic. Those you have enabled in the past will become independent and confidently able to handle their own responsibilities. You will be less stressed as you find more time for rest and focus on the things that matter to you most. You don't have to be perfect, but in order to be your brilliant best, you will have to make changes.
You are loved.