Sacrificing my peace to serve others is never a winning solution. I end up angry, frustrated, and burned out. I rush to complete tasks only to find even more tasks, emotional labor, and exhaustion. When I feel overwhelmed or as if I’m attempting to drink from a fire hose it often means I have taken on work that is not mine to do. I ignore my own needs to manage someone else’s wants. The key is the realization that to take care of myself often means I need to take on less.
When I am focused on things happening outside of my control it feels as if I am spent and there is nothing to show for it. I realize all too late that I can only do one thing at a time. And when I am chasing what everyone else wants I am not meeting my own needs. Therefore the only thing I can do is what is best and most important to me, not to everyone else.
That means, eating a good healthy meal, taking time to meditate and rest. Exercising and using my body and getting outside. Taking breaks and not pushing myself to take on more and more. There is only now and there is only this. Reminding myself that I cannot be all things to all people helps. So does making a list.
I list the things I’m worried about and then next to those items I list who is responsible for that item. It is incredibly freeing to see all of the things that I am allowing to create stress and worry in my life and then to see next to them the true owners of that task. What is most impressive is how many things belong to other people. Almost all of those worries seem to have rightful owners. I am only responsible for myself, my children, and my home. I don’t have to do anything else beyond that.
This practice frees my mental space and my emotional labor so that I may focus on what is important in my life. Centering my life around me and my responsibilities quickly takes that sensation of being off-kilter away. It gives me firm footing and healthfully guides my energy and my choices. I can do one thing and I can focus on this place and its people. I don’t need to juggle the rest of the world’s problems, none of us do. We can all take on less to take care of ourselves. We deserve it.
How do you free yourself from that feeling of responsibility or oversight for others?
*If you’re looking for a more intense overhaul in your relationships and feel as if this one step is less than what you need, Co-Dependent No More by Melody Beatty is an excellent resource as you begin this journey.