Do you need to burn your life down and start again or would you be able to enjoy the life you have if you took 2 hours for yourself on the weekend?
Sometimes it’s difficult to know when you’re facing the constant overwhelm, anxiety and high stress levels a lot of us experience these days.
I posted this in early January 2021 on Instagram:
I stand by this approach. I’m a working parent of 3 kids, 2 with ADHD and ASD. I’ve got food to buy and prep, a marriage to maintain and I need/ want to exercise. Sometimes to survive with some level of mental well being we need to grab any moment we can. The problem comes when this is all we do.
I hear you. You already feel overwhelmed by life and now you need to add in lengthy emotional, physical and spiritual well being practices as well? I hear what you’re saying: “I just don’t have the time!”
This is a constant battle/ journey / balancing act / juggle for me and I know it’s not easy but I’ve recently been reminded of this:
“If you don’t make time for your wellness, you’ll be forced to make time for your illness.” –Anonymous.
This is something I learned the hard way in 2018 when I started to pay the price of the stressful lifestyle I’d been living for a decade.
My key take away from what followed which was two years of chronic illness, fatigue and then a very slow and still ongoing recovery is this:
You might not have the time to look after yourself and you can’t make more time but you just have to TAKE the time to put yourself first.
There’s so much talk about making time for ourselves but guess what??
You can’t make time.
No one can make time.
For most of us there are 24 hours in a day and you have to allocate those accordingly so I decided I would never say “I need to make more time for myself” again and instead I talk about taking time.
I have to actively and aggressively (well it felt aggressive at first) take time from my schedule and allocate it to me. This felt so wrong at first because I’ve always been taught that to be a good mother I had to give all my time and energy to my kids and then to be a good citizen I’d have to also give all my time and energy to a job that made money “to be successful” and then to be a good wife I also have to give all my time and energy to my marriage “To make my husband happy”.
WOW – It’s no wonder I felt exhausted.
Is this resonating with you?
Here’s the rub – You have to take time for your wellness or you won’t. It’s that simple. Your boss/ society will never say work less for the same money, your kids will never say we don’t need you to look after us, your pets won’t feed and walk themselves, your relationships won’t thrive with less attention. You have to take responsibility or face the consequences. This might sound scary and feel off putting, bring up feelings of resistance but stick with me. It’s easy and surprisingly common to not want to take responsibility for these things.
Pre 2018 I had been keenly aware of this and felt I had to keep giving endlessly to hold everything together and keep everything going. I have always been haunted by the scene from the novel Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, which I’d read in my 20s and had been terrified by. It was the only example I’d seen of a woman “finding herself” and it didn’t fit with anything I had been taught by society. It was so extreme and for me that wasn’t helpful because I just couldn’t relate. I began equating any kind of self awareness and self exploration or navel gazing as many derisively called it with a result of completely rejecting and destroying anything I had created in my life. I started to believe that the only way to “find myself” would be to burn everything down and start from scratch and this terrified me.
A quick summary of the part of the book that so disturbed twenty something me – The protagonist isn’t happy with her life so she sobs on the bathroom floor, talks to God for the first time, leaves her husband and 7 year marriage. Travels around the world and ends up finding her true happiness and love with a woman. Not necessarily in that order but you get the gist.
The Eat, Pray, Love story is undeniably inspiring and wonderful in many ways but at that tender stage of my personal development/ spiritual awakening / growth (whatever you want to call it) journey I needed an example of someone who:
I understand why a novel like this wasn’t around and still might not have been written. It would be way less entertaining but my point is I needed this book. And the Eat, Pray, Love story was almost used by society to bolster the patriarchal stance that if women went around finding themselves and their passions and living their truth all families would implode and we’d have to lose everything. Society told me loud and clear you either get your family or you get to find yourself. You can’t have both. I now know this is not the case because I’m aware of all this unconscious programming and how I receive messages from society that I can now choose to reject or accept.
When I started working with my wonderful coach Anna Marsh in 2019 I said to her:
“Anna I’m so scared I’m going to realise I need to leave my husband and I can’t do that. I would rather die than split my family up”.
Melodramatic – I know. And as I said, I felt the weight of history and society, the patriarchy pushing me and pressuring me to at all costs put my husband and family first before my wellbeing.
Would I actually rather die than split up my family?
That would definitely be the worst option for everyone. Anna very sweetly talked me down and explained that although some people do realise through coaching that their relationship was not the right one for them, many also were able to hugely improve their relationship through working on themselves and communication with their partner.
Later on in my late 30s in 2020 I read Untamed by Glennon Doyle whose story is in some ways similar in that she leaves a marriage to a man, burns her life down and is now married to a woman. Brilliant content for books and wow I love her books and everything about her and my growth meant that I could take so much from her writing without worrying that I might end up having to leave my husband or never be able to find and follow my passion.
So here’s the truth – you don’t have to throw anything away or burn your whole life down to get to where you need to be. You can re-balance things. And sure some things will go, but they will be things you don’t actually mind losing after all. They will be the things you weren’t aware were sucking energy from you and distracting you from getting what you want for years.
“A broken family is a family in which any member must break herself into pieces to fit in. A whole family is one in which each member can bring her full self to the table knowing that she will always be both held and free.”
― Glennon Doyle, Untamed
Both of these opened me up to so much:
Initially there was a flood of release and yes there was an intense period especially in my marriage as I hashed out my new terms of living and my husband and I adjusted.
He’s a lovely man and very open to change so we got through it with only a few heated discussions.
It can be very scary to think of the effect of change on others in your life, but my goodness imagine the alternative. Imagine you and things in your life never change and this is it forever?
What would the effect on those close to you be?
Ultimately my kids are way happier because I am happier, my husband is happier because I am and so on to everyone I know and meet.
I’m content, feel fulfilled, am more productive because I know how to rest and I know I’ll make fulfilling progress because my energy and time are invested where I want them to be.
Take the time for your own well being, your growth, your spiritual well being.
If you don’t take the time you’ll never get the time you want to do the things you WANT.
Can you imagine in ten years from now what your life would be like if you carry on like you are now not ever getting around to taking the time you want?
Now imagine 10 years from now if you do take the time. Imagine a life where you are happy, rested, fulfilled and you radiate this out to everyone you know.
It is possible if you let it be. It is possible if you decide to take the first step.
If you want to talk more about what that first step might be get in touch.