I am embarking on an amazing journey this year. For the first time in many years I am becoming the client for one-on-one time. Rachael Jayne Groover , author of Powerful and Feminine, will be mentoring me this year; I am thrilled to have been accepted into her private mentoring program! And guess what comes with this excitement - fear!!! You bet - because I have a tendency to put too many good things on my plate - overextending myself. Even too many good things is too much and creates imbalance. This will be a year to practice what I teach about boundaries and making conscious choices moment-to-moment. Do you overextend yourself on a regular basis? If so, you can expect to experience problems like resentment, anxiety, and fatigue that won't go away with a good night's sleep. What if you learned that overextending yourself was a self-created experience and you actually have a choice about overextending or not? Would you choose differently?
How do you cure the cycle of overextending yourself? Your mind will fight you (and me) with all the reasons you must continue overextending yourself. Therefore one of the essential aspects of changing this pattern means not reasoning through the change, but instead honoring yourself by simply making the change. You must acknowledge that you are creating an unhealthy situation in your life and decide you will reverse the process.
Changing the chronic pattern of overextending means you are learning to set healthy boundaries. Many of us struggle with this when we are surrounded by others who applaud or endorse overextending, or grew up with a family who overextended. It's baked into our subconscious belief system that overextending is the "right" thing to do.
When you are ready to stop overextending, you heal your own life by creating an inner balance and renewed energy stores. Here are suggestions that will support your change and create new beliefs about what is healthy and right for you.
1. Stop comparing yourself with anyone else. Instead honor your amount of energy, your inclination for giving, your desire to connect, your need for service, and every other particular aspect of how you extend yourself to the world. What is the right amount of service for me is unique to my energy and my talents. The same is for you. It's that simple.
2. Discover how you can serve without it feeling like it's draining you. When my parents were in a health crisis a couple of years ago, my sisters and I rallied to be with them round the clock for a few months. What came easily to one of us, was a real chore for another of us. When we were doing what was "easy" for us individually, it was less tiring. It reminded me to honor what was natural for me to give and what wasn't.
3. Identify what truly restores your energy so that you refuel yourself consistently. Sleep is essential, but so are recreation, relaxation, and receiving kindness. If you did not have a television or computer, how would you relax? If you don't know, find out.
4. Be honest with yourself about your personal resources. Don't give money you don't have to give freely. Don't give time that you don't really have to give - even if it's for good stuff! Think of every resource in your life the same way. Empty inner resources lead to illness.
5. Learn to say no kindly, honestly and simply. If you can't say no right away (like me for a while), say, "I'll get back to you after I think about that." And then, think about it and decide if you can give freely without any resentment. Practice saying no out loud and then a simple answer like, it really won't fit into my life right now.
Women (most of us) are naturally nurtures. The deep inclination to nurture is inherent in our being. Therefore, we must recognize when we are nurturing, it is often a self fulfillment, even though it looks like we are "taking care of everyone else".
When you don't recognize this deep inclination to nurture consciously, it is hard to put limits on it, creating a healthy life balance while nurturing. It helps to look at your life in the ways you are overextended and ask, "how is this about my need to nurture?" Answer the question honestly. This will be a journey in itself. Then remember, you can care for yourself consciously, just as you care for others. When you overextend, you eventually drain your inner well, finding your way to burnout. Some part of your being breaks down because it becomes a matter of survival to get your attention to stop. With practice, it's easier to read the signs along the way and honor your limits in extending your valuable resources.
You can practice the deepest and most important nurturing of all - nurturing your inner truth. With this practice, your life becomes a series of authentic and respectful interactions, leaving you feeling like a person of integrity. This is medicine for your inner wellness - the template that creates your outer world!
I welcome any thoughts about how to manage overextending, since this is a year for me to grow my awareness and take this skill to the next level! Please feel free to send a comment along - they are most welcome, as always.
Here are additional resources that may be of use to you if you are challenged by symptoms of overextending. The links blow relate to articles with good content about overextending and how to recognize and reverse the process.