Originally sent on February 8, 2020
I was explaining my self-care weekend to my therapist this week, and I felt quite proud of myself for the self-care I put in place to address the ridiculous amount of stress that overwhelmed me last week. Sure, I was still tired. Yep, I had woken up with anxiety on Monday morning. Yes, I was covered in stress relieving crystals and reeking of lavender oil. I was doing so well, right?
Except that I was still exhausted. I spent the day trying to pour from a cup that had two drops left, trying to meet all of the to-do’s on my list. After describing how I did not have the energy to even decide what food I wanted on Friday night, she compared me to a Victorian woman who had “taken to bed” for the entire weekend out of exhaustion. While it’s true, there is so much growth in the fact that I took the weekend for myself rather than pushing through, the question to ask was why am I feeling SO tired?
I blame the motivational posters, honestly. “Give it your all,” “Always do your best,” “Give it 110%”. What did you expect from a people pleaser but to do just that? You see, I am someone who always equated my worth and value with my productivity. In my work, social, and family relationships, I work hard to how valuable I am so that I can eliminate any chance of being rejected. When you’re the Swiss army knife of support, how can anyone leave you?
When I applied this approach, the classic overachiever hustle, I treated all requests of me as equally valuable. Be it the request to emotionally support a coworker, to an invitation to a social gathering for an acquaintance, to spearheading the family gathering, I never half-assed anything. Full-assing, it turns out, does not lead to it’s equal weight in value. For one thing, we are valuable and worthy just for existing- it’s not based on our output (a lesson I’m still working on.) For another, I was experiencing a terrible creative dry spell. I was feeling uninspired and stuck on this podcast, and at one point settled in for a phone interview while laying on a couch covered in blankets, mustering the energy to stay awake (okay yeah I see the Victorian woman thing now.) I lacked energy for anything EXCEPT self-care and my job.
Walking out of my therapist’s office without my gold star I started to chew over her idea: what deserves my 100%? When I started my year, I was inspired by the word aligned. I wanted my choices and decisions to align with my values, my vision, and to keep my chakras in alignment. I looked back at all of the Yes-s I gave in the past week, and considered if I could truly label them as “in alignment” with any of those 3 guiding questions. Most were not. To be honest, most of the time I was completing the task or request because the empath and intuit in me felt or anticipated the discomfort of others and wanted to “take care of it”. Which leads me back to my empty cup metaphor that I have used again and again on this show.
Now, alignment is not the only guiding criterion when it comes to when and how to expend my energy. As I had worked through the session, I came to realize something. Some of the things I was agreeing to were because I looked at them as lumped under “responsibilities.” If it happened at work, I felt compelled to do it because it was “my job”. If it was asked by a friend, I lumped it under “friend responsibilities” and felt like I had to say yes. But as I really started digging into them (okay, as my therapist started to poke the holes in my theories), I realized that I was way overgeneralizing my responsibilities. Just because it was asked of me at work does not mean it fits under my job description. Just because a loved one asked me to do something does not make it part of the healthy balance of relationships. Because if we treat all things as if they are of equal alignment and importance, we lose the energy for the things that really deserve our energy. And sometimes, you even end up bedridden like a Victorian woman- four post bed not included.
So here are my guiding questions when to-do’s come up, feel free to borrow:
-Is this in alignment with my values?
-Is this in alignment with my vision of who I want to be?
-Does this spiritually throw me out of alignment?
– Is this legitimately within my “job” description (relationship description, friendship description…), or is this extra?
Then I will decide what percentage to give. Because hey, sometimes D’s get degrees!
Take care of yourself, whatever that looks like for you,
Host of Watered Grass