I seem to be getting lots of reminders to not overdo things and to take time to care for and nurture myself as well as others. I can tend to be a bit of an ‘overdoer’ when it comes to giving, pleasing others and fulfilling requests made of me. I often tend to overcompensate by ‘overdoing’ to avoid the fear of being seen as selfish, lazy or stingy or to feel the discomfort of feeling that way. It’s like a continuum with selfish/stingy/lazy at one end and self-sacrificing/overgiving/overdoing at the other. Finding the middle where we are looking after our own needs and those of others, looks after us all.
I often stretch myself too thin and forget that I need to take good care of myself too. The truth is we need to remember to look after ourselves too and this is certainly not selfish, stingy or lazy. What good are we when we are depleted, running on empty or feeling resentful? When we do take the time to look after ourselves too, we have lots in reserve to be available for others. I often need reminding of some self-compassion boundaries to resist the tendency to overdo. Always say ‘yes’ or extending myself beyond what is reasonable is not helpful.
I am seeing this in others too who appear to me depleted, overworked and overwhelmed. While we all know it is important to do our best and to be kind to everyone, but as I said I can forget to include myself and have unrealistic expectations and lack self-compassion boundaries. This often leaves me exhausted, stressed and resentful.
I find it helpful to remember when I receive a request for help or feel the need to ‘overcompensate’ to check in with my wise self to be reminded to pause and consider am I acting from genuine kindness or am I at tipping point and heading toward overcompensating or self sacrifice. I am reminded to do a little stocktake of my resources and take time to decide what to do.
Overcompensating, overgiving, and overdoing are often my kneejerk reactions whether someone requests something of me or not. Taking the time to pause, reflect and consider before jumping in with a response or action is helpful. Awareness is key.
When I am aware that I am tempted to overcompensate to my own detriment, I have found it really useful to ask myself is “Am I tipping into self-sacrifice and subsequent resentment?” I have been journaling to increase my awareness of when I am doing this. Some examples from my journal include….
I can recommend taking the time to be aware of that tipping point and to tune in to your wise self for a reminder to put those self-compassion boundaries in place to look after yourself, so you have lots in reserve to be available for others. We’ll look at some more ways to make sure we include wise self-care in our caring, including saying ‘no’, over the next blogs.
With love, appreciation and very best well wishes to us all
Last blog I shared the ‘What is this person or event reminding me?’ question that I ask myself when I have been triggered and want to respond in a more compassionate and less judgmental way, to both myself and others. It involves awareness around the emotion being triggered and resisting the temptation to suppress, feed or inappropriately express the emotion.
Then I ask myself this simple question: What is this person who is behaving dishonestly, for example, reminding me? My wise self tells me it is not nice for others or themselves when they behave this way, so honesty, truth and kindness are the way to go. I am then able to have compassion for them and for me and to genuinely thank them for reminding me to be honest, kind and truthful.
This can be really tricky with strong emotions as I discovered the other week when I became angry over a manager’s accommodation booking bungle and subsequent refund refusal that I inappropriately expressed my anger in an outburst. I perceived the managers behaviour to be dishonest and manipulative and I told him so with an angry outburst of ‘you are behaving like a f****** arsehole!’ If I am honest I don’t recall if I remembered to label his behaviour and not him and may have said ‘you are a f******* arsehole! OMgoodness no time for doing any awareness or asking my wise self what this person was reminding me!
When I calmed down, I was tempted to give myself a hard time over such an extreme reaction. However instead I tuned into my wise self to be reminded of a few things......
I learned this practice from Lama Marut many years ago now and find it an invaluable way to deal with things I regret doing, like telling someone they are a ‘f****** arsehole. This simple practice helps to make amends for something I have done and to clear my conscience.
This is how I remember the four steps.
As I understand it, we take refuge in our understanding that we have done a misdeed and that it will have a subsequent consequence and weigh on our conscience. It is about taking responsibility for our actions and their results.
Regret is the genuine feeling of wishing we hadn’t done or said that particular thing. While I still feel it was appropriate to be clear and assertive in this situation, I regret swearing at this person.
3. RestraintCan I restrain from doing this particular thing again? Make this realistic and doable. For how long and in what way can you restrain. In my case I thought, ‘yes, I can phone him back and restrain from swearing at him in an angry outburst’.
4. RecompenseThis is a little activity we think of that makes some amends for our action. It is completely up to us what we decide to do to make up. It can just involve you and your mind and doesn’t even need to be expressed or done to the other person. I decided to ring this person back and to apologize for swearing at him and to see if we could resolve things peacefully. He apologized too and we did negotiate a compromise.
Recompense can involve forgiving the other person and forgiving ourselves too. Again, we can just do this mentally if that is what is best.
With love, appreciation and very best well wishes to us all