Learn the surprising reason it's so challenging and what to do
I imagined I would begin this blog with a powerful story of a time I didn’t keep a commitment to myself and the consequences I suffered. I was sure I could come up with many examples, but to my amazement nothing was surfacing. “What’s going on here?” I wondered, “Am I getting this wrong?” And then I got it. It’s so simple and so sneaky.
Powerful women stuck in emotional caretaking ™ don’t break their commitments, we compromise them.
The integrity of what we promise to ourselves is not broken, it’s diluted. We accept part of what we want instead of holding to the wholeness of what we want.
You make a commitment to spend the first two hours of everyday working on your highest priority. Maybe it is writing a book, calling potential customers or studying for a certification. It’s your time for your priority. And you keep that commitment until a good friend calls and asks for your help. This is why, on any given day an average of 15 to 45 minutes gets shaved off of your two hours.
Or maybe you have important financial goals. You want to save at least 10% of your gross salary every month as a safety net for hard times. Only every month someone pesters you for something they “just have to have” so you dip into that 10%. You console yourself with the notion that some savings is better than none.
Does it matter that you compromise so much? After all, isn’t it important to be flexible? It depends. If your compromises are small and infrequent and you achieve the results you want, no problem. If your compromises are frequent and you continually fall short of your goals, then yes, your compromises matter. How much they matter will be in direct proportion to two things; 1) the loss of integrity of your vision and 2) how much you’re experiencing that dreaded feeling that you’re settling for far less than what you really want.
There are many valid reasons for compromising, so compromising itself is not the issue. It’s why you are compromising. As emotional caretakers, one reason we compromise is because the primary language we speak is the language of “other.” We are first and foremost tuned into other people, what they think, feel and want. When someone makes a request of us it’s always a balancing act; we try to manage and balance what we want for ourselves with what is being asked of us. The solution is almost always, just compromise. We get some and they get some.
If you compromise too much for too long, resentment can kick in. If you keep giving and the people around you aren’t giving much back, anger can simmer. You know it’s not fair. If you do nothing and your resentment grows then you run the risk of defaulting to the language of “me.”
Emotional caretakers have lots of experience with people who speak the language of “me.” “Me” people have one reference point - themselves. It’s tricky because they can be quite nice and even generous. It’s just that their generosity is always based on what they want to give vs. what you may want to receive. They are self-centered in a way that blinds them to other people - you. It’s hard to continuously give when the other person doesn’t see you.
We’ve all been there. So how do we get trapped into speaking “me” language? It starts with fatigue and hurt feelings followed by thoughts, such as, “I just don’t care anymore. I’m only going to take care of myself.” And you do, for a while. It’s just that it’s not sustainable. At heart you’re a caring, loving and giving person. The language of “me” makes you feel guilty. It’s not your nature to only care about yourself. To relieve your guilt, you start emotional caretaking again. It’s a vicious cycle. Neither language works. So what’s the answer?
If you want to recover from emotional caretaking and keep commitments you make to yourself, learn how to speak the language of “Self” and the language of “Us.”
When you speak the language of “Self” as your primary language, you:
Wholly stand in your value and honor your unique contribution
Live by your values, even when it’s hard
Align your actions each day with the outcomes you want for your life
Hold yourself fully responsible for yourself and your life
Allow other people to be fully responsible for themselves and their lives
To speak the language of “Self” you first take the time to know yourself and discover what’s important to you. It’s not possible to make informed decisions about how to spend your time if you are missing the essential piece of what matters most to you and why. (For an in-depth exploration of what matters most to you, click here.)
Let’s go back to the commitment of taking two hours a day for your top priority. You’re trying to build your business and you need to be reaching out to friends, customers and referrals. A loved one calls and wants a favor that would take 30 minutes. Speaking the language of “Self” you would stop and reflect on your reason for committing this time to your business. You love your work, you add value to your clients’ lives and it is fulfilling to you. You tell yourself the truth that two hours per day to make phone calls is the minimum time needed. This means you can’t give 30 minutes away and succeed in building your business. There is no room for compromise here.
You are speaking the language of “Self” as you assess your loved one’s request and its impact on your time and your vision. While you stand in your value and speak from the language of “Self” you add in the language of “Us.” You clearly see the other person, how he or she feels and what is wanted. You care.
You understand what is important to them and you feel compassion too. And, because you hold yourself fully responsible for yourself and your life, you know your decision must reflect your responsibility to yourself. In doing so you automatically give the other person responsibility for themselves and their lives, which is the most loving and respectful action you can take.
When you speak the language of “Self” you care for other people but you don’t overcare. When you speak the language of “Self” you share your decisions with people, but you never justify or defend them.
So when is it OK to compromise?
Here is the guideline that people who speak the language of “Self” use in determining how to respond to requests from others. Ask yourself, “Can I give this person what he or she wants without causing any harm to myself or my vision? Can I give this person what he or she wants without violating my values?”
If the answer is “yes” then you are free to give. In fact, people who speak the language of “Self” will often give just to benefit the other person. Someone who speaks the language of “me” will only give if it feels good to them, their reference point is always their own pleasure and pain. When your primary language is “Self” you are invested in the other person’s vision too (again, as long as you are not harming yourself).
We all speak all four languages. The language of “other” and “me” are by default. The language of “Self” and “Us” are by intention. You are a Creator, the Creator of your own life. You are at choice and you can choose yourself. You can honor commitments you make to yourself while also loving and caring for the people in your life.
Is my 4 week group, Fulfillment First™ for you?
Do you want more, yet feel stuck and don’t know how to move forward?
Would you like to be the Creator of your life and stop living in the status quo?
Are you willing to take baby steps to begin the journey?
You can move from Emotional Caretaker™ to Creator and beyond. You can live a life full of meaning and purpose. Click here to learn more.