My fingers are poised above the keyboard ready to write, when the irony of this particular journal post hits me. Something I am feeling keenly at the moment is a lack of healthy boundaries, so I welcome this month's theme. Healthy boundaries the ability to take the longer view of my life and career so they support what I want to bring into this world, and they are eating the dust of my pace as I motor through my days. Striving to balance being of service to others with my own personal needs (being the parent and spouse I feel drawn to be) means there are too few hours in each day. I am struck by just how lose/lose this way of working is, which brings on feelings of loss. A loss of connection to myself (when did I become this person?).
These consequences simply become part of the fabric of who you are...
Except, there really is nothing I want to say "no" to. This is the pinch of healthy boundaries; I want to do it all. I feel compelled to honour the deep trust and partnership I hold with my clients with being present for my family during what is a challenging time for us. This is a slippery slope, giving in to what I want, while ignoring what I really need. Nothing in life seems to move forward (or mean anything) without some kind of personal sacrifice. However, when sacrificing needs becomes a way of life, the inevitable consequences aren't necessarily swift or dire, just soul destroying. These consequences simply become part of the fabric of who you are and how you are experienced by others (and not always in a good way). It is the sowing of malignant seeds that lock you into elevated expectations (others and your own), unsustainable thresholds of productivity and teaches those who love you to do with less of your presence, your touch, your love.
What ultimate purpose are you fulfilling and how are you fulfilling it?
Healthy boundaries start with having a vision for your life and work; an intriguing and realistic vision that expresses the values and intentions you want to put into the world. Then, it's giving yourself permission to pull back from the day-to-day rush to re-examine where you are within that vision, and make adjustments. How are you serving your vision? How is it serving you? What ultimate purpose are you fulfilling and how are you fulfilling it? The world needs each of us, but we can only truly be of service when we are whole and well. What healthy adjustments are calling to you? Listen, and then ask for what you need.
At the beginning of the day, things look great. Alarm goes off, routine is happening, and then, an unexpected disruption. You’re out of coffee. Your child is irrationally upset, or traffic is unreasonable, putting you behind schedule both factually and emotionally. You tell yourself to just keep going, there is a long list of responsibilities to get to today. You stuff the emotional side of things down in an effort to move forward, putting your time schedule back on track. Can you relate?
Ever wonder why parts of your body ache, even though you were sitting all day?
We’ve all done this, but have you ever wondered where the emotions you stuff go? They don’t just disappear. They are held as tension in some part of your body and as the day progresses those tensions add up. Ever wonder why parts of your body ache, even though you were sitting all day? Or have mild indigestion, even though you didn’t eat anything irritating? Have you ever snapped at someone in an afternoon meeting (surprising you both)? Ever walked in the door at the end of a routine workday and wondered why you were so tired?
Over time, that body tension adds up.
This is what happens when you don’t give yourself what you need to acknowledge your feelings; the few simple seconds, and steps, it takes to acknowledge yourself in an emotion, giving yourself loving kindness and compassion. Stuffing emotions has consequences, both mental and physical. Over time, that body tension adds up. It can dissolve; a pleasant surprise, a deadline aced, a compliment, a hug, an amazing fitness class or walk. However, if the tension going out isn’t keeping up with the tension going in, you end up with off and on aches, bouts of inflammation (hello Naproxen), and an energy crisis making it difficult to get to that walk, fitness class or date with your friends.
Sit quietly for a few minutes and check in.
If this is ringing some alarm bells for you, take action. Eating right, moving your body intentionally everyday (and not just to walk to your car or to catch the bus) and getting enough sleep are all great strategies to support your well-being. So is listening to what your body is telling you. If you are white-knuckling your steering wheel on the way home, or clenching your jaw so often it hurts, check in with yourself. Sit quietly for a few minutes and check in. That lower back pain, it may be your sense of duty telling you to take some much needed “me time”. Your jaw ache may point to a conversation you need to have with you co-worker about including your ideas on the project you’re working on together. Mild tummy ache? Possibly you need a hug, or some quality time with a loved one. Once you know what to listen for, this doesn’t take very long (although it does need to be intentional), providing you with the tools to give yourself what you need, freeing both your emotions and yourself.
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I believe in empowering others in many tangible ways. When I learn new career strategies or see something that might help others, I share it using my blog and website.