Reclaim Your Power
The concept of overcaring is new to me. A good friend in California suggested that perhaps I have a tendency to overcommit myself to projects, people and places without the balance to maintain a level of harmony to sustain those commitments.
He is right.
It stems from the “Give it Your All” mentality I was trained to believe. You know, the 100%, do-your-best-never-give-up system we grew up with? The trouble with that approach is that you have nothing left for yourself after giving “it” all away.
In a Web TV episode with Oprah Winfrey last year, Iyanla Vanazant offered a great image that has stuck with me ever since. Imagine your energy is like a cup with water filled to the brim. Every bit of that water inside the cup belongs to you. Anything that spills over gets distributed to other people, projects or situations you may be involved in.
What a concept. You mean I don’t have to keep dipping into the well of my being to foster great relationships? I don’t have to deplete the contents of my cup to be considered worthy?
It’s a hard notion to grasp when you are so accustomed to giving everything you have to virtually everything in your life. And people willingly take from you without considering how depleting it can be, if you allow them to.
To reclaim our power, we must first identify that we have given away so much of it over time. That may be why we are so very tired.
The second step is to notice how we react to the daily demands in our lives. Do we jump from one phone call to the next, cutting off people in mid-sentence to put out the next burning fire? Do we sacrifice ourselves in the name of ‘keeping it altogether’? Take it from me. That strategy won’t work forever. At some point you will break down if you try to be all things to all people all the time.
The third step is to say ‘no’. That is, when someone calls or walks into your office and you are in the middle of something, say so. Or don’t pick up the phone in the first place. Let it go to voicemail. Make people wait to talk to you.
The final step is to not take on other people’s problems, although most love to tell you about them. They are theirs to solve. You can be a good listener, offer advice when warranted, but then step away from the situation as best you can.
Ultimately, reclaiming your power is about establishing, then honoring, your own personal boundaries. It will take time (and lots of practice) to know what those boundaries are, especially if you aren’t accustomed to maintaining them.
Leave the intensive care to the emergency technicians. It’s time for you to care for yourself.