Every day we make decisions – what to wear, what to eat for each meal, what to watch on TV. Most are simple, inconsequential decisions, but some make a difference in how we live our lives – whether to take the new job offer, should you volunteer for an organization, do you take on a second job.
The hardest thing to say is no. The second hardest is to say I can no longer do _____. We intrinsically want to please others, so we say yes or continue doing some task even when it’s really putting too much on our plates. We don’t want to disappoint whomever is asking us to do something. We feel guilty and like we’ve let someone down. Sometimes we even will think like we did as children – they won’t like me.
In the past 5-10 years a trend has emerged – taking care of ourselves. This is a foreign concept to most of us and hard to do. I’m one of the worst at this and only take care of myself when I’m well past when I should have done so. I am in awe of those who have this down to a science.
Those of us who are caregivers always take on way more than we should and we pay for it. We spread ourselves so thin we have nothing left for ourselves or anyone else. Taking care of those who need it, working, volunteering, cleaning our homes, being there for others. It’s exhausting.
So how do we do that balancing act of doing what needs to be done and still taking care of ourselves? One way to do so is to look at what is necessary and what isn’t. For those of us who are caregivers, the person or persons we care for must come first. Next it’s what brings income into the home. Third is what is a long standing commitment. At this point you’re done committing to anything outside of these 3 things and yourself.
You probably have more than those 3 things on your plate. You need to decide what goes. How do you determine that? Look at what is the most time consuming outside of the 3 things mentioned above. That is what needs to go. It may even be you just reduce your involvement significantly. Or it may be you need to walk away completely. Either way, to keep your life balanced you must let go.
I face these crossroads with some regularity in my life and I am slowly learning how to identify when I need to say no. It’s a difficult process, training myself to not over-commit. We are repeatedly told to do more by society. We’re shown examples of people who do so much for so many. That’s great for them, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for everyone.
We need to realize as things are being added to our load whether or not our shoulders can handle the weight. Do you know what your limits are when it comes to commitments? It’s different for everyone. The 3 categories listed above can include more than one commitment. This is why I say beyond those, it’s too much.
You need to decide what the priorities are for you. It’s important to take a step back and evaluate your load every so often. Make sure there’s balance to your life. It will keep you sane.