Monday, May 23, 2011

Just Because I Can

This thought crossed my brain when I was trying to fall asleep the other night, and the weight of what I had to do was crowding out my ability to relax: "Just because I can do something, doesn't mean I have to." Thankfully, I didn't pontificate too long on this idea, and quieted down enough to go to sleep, shelving that thought for another time.

I am a hyper-organized person. I've always been this way. I'm seeing now that my control-freak nature is a direct result of my attempt to control chaos as a child, and so I'm looking at ways to keep what's good and dump what is compulsive and unhealthy. Being honest with myself and examining why I do what I do is helping me slowly weed out the good from the bad. Just because I have the skills to do something doesn't mean I have to do it. That's where my mind is supposed to overrule my intentions to be sure I'm doing things that make sense at the time.

We all want to give of ourselves to help others. Especially when we have abilities in certain areas. But when we take on too much and become burnt out, we are putting the cart before the horse and not taking care of ourselves. Many women struggle with this, especially when our giving begins to define our worth, and we don't dare fall behind in case we are considered worthless in some way.

We are not what we give and what we do. We are valuable for who we are, not for our contributions. What we give flows out of who we are, and the contribution is better all around when we are rested, well fed, and secure in ourselves. When we give from this place, we feel stronger and more sure of ourselves, instead of weak and overwhelmed. It's the "put your own oxygen mask on first and then help someone else" philosophy. Fill up your own tank, take care of yourself, and you will be able to make better decisions about how to give to others without bleeding yourself dry.

I believe this in theory, but putting it into practice is very new and frightening for me. I still fear being judged by others (and myself) for not doing enough. I don't want to be selfish, but I also get tired of burning myself out, particularly on things I don't necessarily enjoy doing but feel pressured into. I know I don't have to love everything I do, but once you get a taste of doing what you love, everything else tastes a little bitter, and you want to maximize the sweet taste and limit what doesn't bring you joy.

Like anything, it's a balance. We are always searching for that balance which makes our lives feel full and satisfying, without being stressful or overwhelming. You get something working right and another area falls apart. That's what life looks like most of the time. But I have to believe that awareness is the first step to anything improving, and becoming more conscious of the fact that I can say no, even if I'm technically able to do what is being asked of me, will help me in the long run.

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