I was raised to be accommodating. If someone asks you to do something, you do it. If you commit to something, you follow through. Putting oneself first is viewed as selfish. As I got older, the world reinforced these tendencies in me. People who recognized my tendency to put others before myself took full advantage of me.
Any time I was asked to cover an extra shift at work, I'd do it. If a boyfriend disregarded my interests, I'd let it happen. I took on other's demands and expectations without much thought about how they affected me. I just wanted everyone to be happy and like me.
By the time I reached my thirties, I was exhausted and resentful.
When I started seeing my life coach, one of the first things she said to me was it seemed like I had too many burners going on the stove and needed to choose one to turn off. What? No way! Work, home, partner, hobbies, family, pets. How could any of those be turned off? My coach helped me see that there wasn't a burner labeled as self. Because I wasn't putting any energy into treating myself well, I was doing a lousy job of maintaining all those other hot burners.
One of the most important skills I've learned as an adult is how to set boundaries. It can be uncomfortable at first, if you aren't used to doing it. Even now, I occasionally struggle with feeling guilt, as if I'm letting others down by speaking up for myself. But actually I'm doing us both a favor!
|Boundaries aren't always fun!|
Learning that it's okay to say no was a HUGE life lesson for me. Sometimes people in my life don't understand. They aren't used to hearing "no" and don't say it often themselves. Sitting down with a boss or a boyfriend and saying "This isn't working for me" takes a lot of guts. Trust me, I've done both and it sucked. It's a big step, to recognize when it's time to say no and when the response is negative or the person lashes out, it can make a tough situation even worse.
Fearing another's response to no isn't a reason to accommodate him/her. In fact, you're doing each other a huge disservice if you don't speak up. You can trust me on this one too because I've been there as well!
I like to use the example of airplane emergency procedures when it comes to self care: Secure your own oxygen mask before you begin to assist others with theirs.
Taking care of myself first doesn't mean I'm selfish. It means I value myself and my loved ones enough to know when I'm on the verge of becoming overextended. I was spread thin for far too long and that me isn't nearly as healthy and positive as the me that takes time our for herself!
If you're feeling pulled in too many different directions, I challenge you to say no to something. Say it nicely and with kindness but say it. I promise you will be glad you did!
|Bison without boundaries in Gardiner, MT|