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Does anyone else find themselves slowly sinking down that “priority list”—the one we mentally refer to throughout our (often overloaded) day?
Let’s be honest: do we feature on it at all?
I used to be the world’s worst at this. As a busy mum, wife, daughter, and career girl, my day would be spent frantically charging around attending to the anticipated needs of all and sundry. What I didn’t really appreciate was that this was the fastest route to burnout. And, in fact, it can look ever-so-slightly like self-neglect, if we’re not careful.
You see, when you have a “sleeve-worn heart” it’s easy to become overly accommodating and receptive to the needs and demands of others, to the point where we become pretty much selfless—a bit like a highly absorbent, budget-range bath sponge for other people’s “stuff.” As gradual as it might be, it’s still a dumbing down, a devaluation of our worth, our importance, and our significance.
And you know what? It’s not healthy.
If reading this resonates with you, then that little warning bell in your head shouldn’t just be going off right now, it should be deafeningly loud. It’s time to reach the point of enough. It’s time to address the imbalance.
It’s all too easy for us to forget our worth, to underestimate our value. We lose sight of the fact that our “stuff” is just as important as other people’s—if not more so. Let’s face it, charging around like a car with an empty fuel gauge just isn’t viable; it won’t be long before we run out of “juice.”
There’s no doubt that the “givers” of this world can be incredibly versatile, twisting perspectives like over-stretched elastic to make it all seem okay. We listen attentively and we find solutions at all miracle-inducing costs. We support beyond expectation and we offer limitless volumes of love because, well it just keeps coming and it’s in our very nature to keep giving it out.
This works great when recipients are worthy and our personal balance is healthy and grounded, but what about when giving our heart and devoted attention becomes painful or emotionally destructive? At what point do we stop? At what point do we flick the large, neon “Enough” switch? Timing may vary, but my experience says that many of us will get there at some point.
A kind of self-preserving, emotional survival system kicks in with unsuspecting force, causing any salty tears to stop abruptly in their soggy tracks. And then a highly charged “enough” starts to run like red-hot fury through our veins, usually followed by an overwhelming sense of relief. Our hearts utter an exhausted sigh, expressing a massive sense of gratitude—the time for self-love, self-care, and rest has, at last, finally arrived.
So, how do we practice self-care? How do we practice self-love? Where do we start?
Well, you know that love, support, and effort we’ve been sending out in copious volumes? Pull it back. Take that love and return it swiftly back to sender. Start to appreciate its power and significance. Address the imbalance, quickly. Only when our self-love is suitably brimming are we ready to start dishing it out—in a healthy way.
We reflect on the times we sold ourselves short. The times we consistently put someone or something else first and, in some way, paid the price for doing so. Then, we tenderly renegotiate, we make amends. We get kind. We get respectful—to ourselves.
We strip it back to basics; we consider our nurture—the food we eat, the amount of (and quality of) our sleep. We learn to become more attentive to our requirements for rest, relaxation, and reflection. For personal space and protective boundaries.
We rediscover our vocal chords and practice the concept of “no,” with increasing conviction. We take back control—in all areas of our lives. We consider ourselves in our decision making, asking the questions, “Does this serve me?” and if so, “How?” We fuel ourselves with the courage of knowing that the strength of “enough” will carry us through.
While rediscovering our vocal chords (external voice), we also need to consider our own self-talk (internal voice)—how we address ourselves via thought. Are we kind? Would we address a close friend in such a way? We make conscious efforts to praise ourselves for our achievements, abilities, and successes. The way we communicate with ourselves underpins our self-worth, how we feel about ourselves. Including positive affirmations in our daily routine is massively powerful.
We can exercise, meditate, do yoga, take ambling walks in the countryside—get some fresh air! These are awesome ways to healthily ground us, to create space and time for reflection. We create our own peace.
We declutter, physically and mentally. We strip everything back to the stuff of real value, while creating an energised space in which to thrive, flourish, and focus.
We start to know ourselves better. We develop awareness of our values and go “all out” to honour and respect them. As we live more aligned with our values and become more self-aware, we build confidence and avoid unnecessary conflict—either internally or with other people.
We connect with people who genuinely care about us, who wish for our happiness, our success. The right tribe won’t judge or be insincere; they will simply encourage and support with no expectations or terms. We create a new and supportive environment in which to grow, to experience new things, to express ourselves most authentically.
We don’t need be nationally acclaimed artists or authors to find ways to express ourselves. Journal writing, for example, can be highly cathartic in nature and so easy to include in our daily routine. Creativity in any form is a perfect anecdote to the negative connotations of screen time (phones, laptops, and social media).
We shift perspective to encourage a consistent sense of gratitude. Recognising what we have, as opposed to what we don’t, keeps us fully appreciative and offers a much greater scope for joy.
Above all, we recognise there is no selfishness in putting ourselves first. We take full responsibility for ourselves, placing ourselves firmly and rightfully back in that drivers seat—making sure the fuel gauge is full and the engine is revving, excited about the journey ahead.
So, my friend, is that warning bell still ringing?
I implore you: find your enough. Know when enough is enough. And know that you are always enough.