On One Hand… You are the type of person who is always there when someone needs you. Car trouble? You’re there. Shoulder to cry on? Your specialty. Lending an ear any time, any day? You’ve got your phone on standby. You’re the most loyal friend around and would gladly put someone else’s needs before your own.
On The Other Hand... …you’re the most loyal friend around and would gladly put someone else’s needs before your own. There is such a thing as being too selfless – when you start to lose track of yourself. Because of your role as the nurturer, you find yourself overwhelmed more times than you’d like to admit, under-nourished more often than not, and over-connected to everyone you know and care about. As much as you hate to face it, being available for everyone else 24/7 means you’re rarely available for yourself.
The Balancing Act: Compassion and selflessness are applauded in our culture – and for good reason! Community is a driving force behind us feeling loved, accepted, and helps gives our lives meaning. But just like anything, there can be too much of a good thing if you’re not careful. Be sure to create time, space, and energy to give yourself the same loving care you give to everyone else. We all have the ability to nurture ourselves on a very deep level, but we often times spend so much time and energy nurturing others, we forget we need that same kind of selfless care directed inward. Remember when your mom used to say “Treat others the way you’d like to be treated?” It’s time to treat yourself the way you like to treat others, without sacrificing the special (and rare) qualities that make you one of the best friends and confidantes around.
Set boundaries and examples.
Setting boundaries with loved ones doesn’t have to be awkward, and it certainly doesn’t have to be brutal! Take one week and simply notice your natural tendencies – are there certain moments that energize you more than others? Are there times of day that you are more drained than usual? What “yesses” activate that slight gripping feeling in your chest that lead to you feeling overwhelmed? Start to notice what fuels you and what drains you. Then, the next time someone asks you for a favor or to lend an ear – and you know it will ultimately drag you down – practice either politely declining the favor or scheduling a time to chat that works for you. People are usually receptive to “I’d love to talk and want to make sure I can be 100% distraction-free for you. How’s Wednesday?” Even telling someone you’re simply in need of a “self-care day” works wonders, and will maybe even inspire them to take some precious time for themselves. StrategicKeep being your compassionate, empathetic self…just be sure to keep the ball in your court as well.
Utilize "Do Not Disturb" Mode.
You know that little crescent moon icon on your iPhone that silences it while you sleep? Get familiar with it. In your iPhone or Android’s Settings, schedule the Do Not Disturb mode to activate two hours before your bedtime and deactivate once you wake up (don’t worry: if there is an emergency and someone calls more than once, there’s a “Repeated Calls” setting that allows them to get through to you). Giving yourself uninterrupted time to unwind in the evening is crucial to the care and keeping of you, allowing you to process the day you just completed and reflect on all you have to offer. Whether you use this time for meditation, enjoying a movie, or simply taking the world in, make it your non-negotiable time that a call can’t interrupt. If you need to start with one hour before bed and go from there, great! Two hours isn’t a hard and fast rule. Make this exercise work for you.
Find The Sacred.
Take that concept of “Do Not Disturb” and use the same tactic IRL, whether your phone is on or silenced. Make certain places or times sacred: your Saturday morning coffee ritual with your partner, your Monday evening you love to spend alone, your yoga monthly yoga date with a friend who fuels you. When you recognize those little nooks and crannies of your life that have special meaning – and actually honor them instead of speeding through – you’re able to find the sacred in other areas of your life, too. All the sudden, you start to see little soul-opening miracles everywhere, and your time spend with others is that much more fulfilling for both parties involved, not just one.
Be All There.
When you’re as sensitive and giving as you are, selfless girl, nothing feels worse than the inkling you’re giving less than 100% of yourself to the moment. Whether you choose to “be there” for a friend, family member, or merely an acquaintance – be all there. If you’re not taking the time for your own self-care, being completely present for someone else can be surprisingly difficult. You’re in a constant state of scattering your energy outside yourself, which usually means everyone around you is only getting a percentage of your full potential. But once you start to get back to your own self-care – choosing your yesses and nos strategically, setting boundaries, mindfully unwinding, and recognizing the sacred – you start to give your all to the people who truly need it. Including yourself.
Who embodies this Balancing Act to a T? Share this with your most loyal and loving friend to remind her that it’s okay to give herself some of that precious TLC, too!