What’s your normal speed in life? Slow? Moderate? Fast? Too fast? Are you in the flow, perfectly balanced between feeling challenged and feeling relaxed? If you’re like most women, you long for a feeling of balance that you rarely achieve. There’s just too much to do!
You choose to add something to your schedule, certain you can handle it. It starts out as doable, meaning, you’re doing too much but still managing. Then “too much” becomes more when an unexpected emergency occurs, so you kick it into high gear. The emergency coincides with an extra project at work and family from out of town asking to come visit.
You’re moving like a speed demon now saying “yes” to everyone, all the while overwhelm is creeping up on you. Eventually you hit this place I call, “crash and burn.” You literally have no juice left and the balls you’ve worked so hard to keep spinning in the air come crashing down around you.
“Crash and burn” is a state I know well. Sometimes when I’d hit it, I’d whine and feel sorry for myself, other times I’d wonder, “What’s wrong with me?” The big secret I would never tell anyone is quite often I’d feel relieved, because at least for a little while, I could rest and do nothing.
Eventually I’d get going again and with the precision of an engineer I would recreate the same scenario all over again. I did this for years, a lot of years. This was my pattern and I couldn’t understand how I did it. No matter what promises I made to myself, I consistently found myself with too many balls in the air, struggling to keep up and feeling overwhelmed.
My breakthrough came when a thought rose spontaneously into my mind, saying, “Anne-Marie, your life is too big.” I knew it was true but I had no idea what it meant or how to fix it.
It doesn’t matter if your life is “too big” because it’s filled with “have to’s” or if it’s “too big” because it is filled with “want to’s” – too big is too big! You’re walking down the path leading to overwhelm, self-doubt, and frustration.
I was determined to build what I began calling, a “right-sized” life, a life perfectly sized just for me. To do that I needed to know the truth in my own heart. “What do I want? What is most important to me? What do I value?” Creating a “right-sized” life begins with going to your heart and discovering what you want. (To learn how to access your Heart Intelligence, click here.)
The second step was the most challenging for me, letting go of Emotional Caretaking™. Emotional Caretaking is when you become entangled with someone else’s emotions and business even when it comes at a cost to your own well-being, purpose and life.
Giving is a beautiful thing when it’s freely done. When you’re giving from Emotional Caretaking it’s a roller coaster ride that is sometimes thrilling and sometimes exhausting. I had to face the unpleasant truth that I was trying fit my life in around all the stuff I thought I had to do or wanted to do for other people. I was forever running out of time because I was busy minding other people’s business.
Do you keep getting caught in Emotional Caretaking? Is it impossible for you to relax and feel peaceful if someone you love is hurting or about to make a big mistake? Emotional Caretaking causes you to try and “help” and “fix” the people around you and to make sure everyone is happy. Then and only then can you relax. Is it any wonder that Emotional Caretaker’s struggle to find time for what is important to them?
The antidote to Emotional Caretaking is True Care. True Care is care without any stress in it. It’s giving that doesn’t hurt. It’s giving without gut wrenching compromises. The bottom-line with True Care is, it’s OK to give as long as you have little or no stress when you give – no anxiety, no guilt, no frustration and the biggie – no resentment. It’s just not possible to build a “right-sized” life if you give from stress. (Look for my next blog on May 13th, it’s all about True Care.)
Let’s pause and summarize. Step one to building a “right-sized” life is go to your heart, access your Heart Intelligence and discover what you want and value. Step two is to slowly, over time, stop Emotional Caretaking and learn to give from True Care, care with little or no stress in it. Step three is setting powerful boundaries.
The most important boundaries you set are with yourself. You set boundaries inside of yourself that protect what matters most to you. Each day you live out of your commitment to your values by holding these boundaries with yourself. For example, what matters most may be two hours a day for your work, or exercise in the morning or getting to bed before 10 PM.
You get clear and align your actions accordingly. You rarely compromise what you value most. When necessary, quietly and without making a fuss, you let other people know what they can and cannot expect from you. You do this without drama and upset because you’re clear and in alignment with your heart.
When you know what is in your heart (step one) and you are minding your own business and giving from True Care (step two), when your boundaries are in place and protecting what you value (step three), you are on your way to building a “right-sized” life.
Building a “right-sized” life means owning your time. If you can’t control your time you can’t control your life.
Building a “right-sized” life means that at any given moment 80% of what is most important to you is in a state of fulfillment; you’re keeping up with what matters most so there aren’t large chunks of your life being neglected.
Don’t let all these steps make you feel overwhelmed! Begin with baby steps. Spend a few minutes here and there to daydream about what you want (step one); hold a moment of silence when normally you would jump in to help (step two) and celebrate acts of courage, such as, when you say “no” to a request (step three). Your life will cease to be one long game of playing “catch up.” Yes, it may require you to make some hard choices of what stays and what goes, but the end result is worth it.
You’re saying goodbye to the stress of doing too much, which means giving up moving too fast, giving up feeling overwhelmed and best of all, giving up guilt for all the things you’re not doing.
What you get instead is the joy of being both fulfilled and stretched as you live into a life that is challenging, rewarding and perfectly sized just for you.