Updated: May 7
Sisters, you don't do anyone any favours by being constantly available. I know you want to help others. I know you want to be there for friends and family. I know it's important to you to feel you are helping. But do me a really huge favour and ask your self why.
Why is it so important that you are seen by others as helpful?
And please don't chuck me a bullshit answer like 'Its in my nature to be helpful' We are social creatures. It is in all of our natures to be of assistance to each other. Its hardwired in and it's actually a nod back to the old days of there being safety in numbers. You were more likely to survive in a group or tribe and that stands true today.
However! We are not in a world where we must stay in a group in order to be more likely to survive sabertooth tiger attacks. Because honestly? That's where safety in numbers came from. Survival. In a group, you have a higher chance of someone else getting eaten before you. It was a numbers game, harsh but true!
Fast forward to today's society. I am writing this blog on a smart phone that notifies me every time I get a like on a post on Facebook, or someone emails me, or someone books a session, or I get a comment on my Instagram, hardly survival. Yet, it has become one of the tribes by which we measure our survival. The online world.
The online world is amazing.
It enables me to do a lot of the work I do! It enables me to ramble on about this sort of thing! But it is not essential to my survival to be available for everyone all the time. If someone emails me, I can reply at 7pm. If someone messages me regarding work, they can expect a reply at 7pm. During the day, I am working, home educating my children, doing housework, food shopping, out enjoying life, sitting in PJ's binge watching favourite programmes (that's a whole other blog) My time is important to me. Every single day, I do at least 1 thing I want to do, I do 2 things I need to do and I do the 'should's' if I get round to them.
Every day I receive messages and comments and emails from others. I get to choose who gets my time and when. That may sound harsh, but when I was a 'yes' person, when I was available for everyone all the time? No one was really getting any of my time. They were getting half-assed, apologetic, tired, unfocused and unhealthy me.(Sound familiar? At the time it felt impossible to do it any other way, because I didn't want to let others down.
But here's the truth bomb
In truth, I was already letting others down! They began to realise I couldn't be trusted to follow through on my yes's, because I'd said yes to so many people I would double book myself, forget what I'd said yes to, end up unwell or knackered and have to cancel. I became unreliable. (one of my cringe words!)
For a while, I blamed illness, because at the time I had fibromyalgia and severe migraines. Looking back now I'm healed from these, it was often an easy excuse. "Sorry but I'm unwell, I can't help being ill. I can't help having a migraine" To be clear this wasn't a conscious thing at the time and if anyone had suggested I was using illness to not participate in my life, I likely would've punched them! So if you struggle with chronic illness, know that I feel you my friend.
But in the end? I had to face myself. I was making myself Ill. I had chronic illness and still trying to be everything to everyone and do all the things.
And had to ask myself the hard question; Why was I so desperate to help everyone and be available for all like a hologram doctor from Star Trek?
The answer took time to come, but as I dug into understanding my motivations I realised I was worried that if I didn't show people I was helpful, they wouldn't see any use for me. I had to be of value or be thrown to one side and therefore I was measuring my worth externally against how helpful and useful I could be to others.
This is the fun of limiting beliefs that are created in a child's mind. A fathers sudden death can cause all kinds of funky abandonment beliefs. Lets face it, it's pretty fucked up thinking but it comes from the mind of a child trying to make sense of traumatic events. When we drop the self blame and judgement, we find a child who was scared and a mind that built stories to keep her safe. It was my job to then give that child new information to break the chain that was holding the belief together.
Who belongs in your circle?
If you have surrounded your self with people who only value you if you can constantly do something for them, firstly you need to understand that you may not have known better and that's okay. Look at that circle and ask yourself if you still deserve that. Because honestly, it's old stuff. Old programming harking back to sabertooth tiger days, but guess what? As much as we are social creatures and feel a sense of belonging when in a tribe, there aren't any hungry tigers knocking the door to gobble you up. Instead, there are hungry wolves that will take everything you are willing to give.
Read that again- they take, what you are willing to give.
Because what it truly comes down to, in this current world, is worth. You are not an appliance. You are not the speaking clock or a fucking tumble drier. You have intrinsic worth within, whether anyone else sees it or not. You do not have to be useful, to be worthy. You do not have to measure your worth again how useful you are to others.
I am not saying don't help, I am saying help yourself first because if you are ending up exhausted and having to cancel plans, the person you are really letting down? Is you.
And if this all hits you in the guts, you may have become the yes person. Measuring your worth against a stick that doesn't exist and keeps on changing. Putting the most important person last- YOU. It takes some strong kick ass self love, to recognise that and choose new actions. But I know you have it in you.
6 simple steps to helping your self first.
1. Put me time slots in your diary. These are slots of time, every day, that you do something you want to do. These slots are non negotiable. You cannot delete them because someone else wants you to do something for them. Because guess what? If you can't value yourself, how can you expect others to
2. Limit your mind numbing thumb scrolling. Looking on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter every 5 minutes, is like going to the fridge and expecting there to suddenly be something new and exciting for you to eat. It's still the same stuff from when you looked a minute ago. Your mental diet is as important as your nutritional one!
3. Limit who you interact with. While on the subject of social media, consider unfollowing those people who are always on their next big drama, always full of negativity and crap. Always asking for help. Sounds harsh, but you know the people I am talking about. Every day is a fresh drama that they need help with. Newflash- you are not helping them by constantly feeding into their drama or constantly bailing them out. You are actually preventing them from seeking their own resolutions and problem solving. You are holding them back from helping themselves.
4. Be honest with your time. People often say there aren't enough hours in the day. It's bullshit. You have 1440 minutes A day. 24 hours. You are simply not choosing how you spend those minutes and hours honestly. Is helping that person going to mean you are unable to do what you wanted and needed to do? Is it going to leave you rushing around and not able to give your focus and proper energy to the other things and people? If you choose to help someone, they deserve your actual focus. Anything less is crappy. And crappy equals being a yes person, overstretching your self, getting ill and ending up being no good to anyone, yourself in particular.
5. Be honest with yourself Instead of automatic yes's- ask yourself why you are saying yes. Is it because you feel you have to? Is it because you worry they will get mad at you if you say no? Is it because you get a sense of worth from being of use to others? Is it because it's expected of you? Use these questions as your internal alarm system. It doesn't mean you will stop saying yes, but over time you will come to understand your motivations for saying yes and maybe, learn when its right to say yes, for you and for them.
6. Practice saying no. Start with small things. Recognise that it is not your job to be available to everyone all the time. Recognise that it is not your job or your right to fix stuff for everyone. Recognise that you may actually be hindering others by saying yes all the time. Recognise that sometimes, the most helpful thing you can do for a person is say no. It's nice to feel useful. To be needed and to need others. It's great to help and assist. But if it is at the detriment of yourself? It's time to ask yourself why you are punishing yourself in ways you would never dream of doing to a friend. If you have friends or family, that are all take and no give? It's time to consider what you are allowing.
Because you have a choice in what you allow.
You have choice in what you say yes to.
And you have a choice in taking action on this today.
As always if you need a hand with any of this you can book in a cuppa and chat to see how I can assist.