A few years ago I had a client with a loving husband, kids, a home she really liked and a job that while it had its challenges, the pay and hours really suited her. But she felt stuck, frustrated and unhappy.
She had access to a swimming pool and lounge area that no-one seemed to use much and so on Friday nights she took some wine, chocolate and did the ‘homefun’ and journalling exercises I gave her. Well, a few weeks later she said she was feeling happier than she had in years. She used those Friday nights to restore and connect to herself – and as a result was more patient with her children, asked her boss for what she really wanted and decided to turn a hobby into a part-time job. She decided to continue with her special Friday evening even after we wrapped up our coaching – to give herself solitude and invaluable me-time.
So, I don’t know about you, but I keep saying “Yes” to things (most of them exciting and interesting!). I squeeze in the time to do them all, BUT I struggle to relax and sleep because my brain is not getting to rest.
In fact I’m committed to doing stuff daytimes, evenings and weekends and even though I enjoy myself at the time – it’s making me unhappy. I feel disconnected from myself and my needs, and half the time I can’t tell if I’m coming or going. Basically (and this is something I’m sure everyone will relate to!) I get into a state of overwhelm. And once I feel overwhelmed I can’t think straight and don’t have enough perspective to pull back and take care of myself.
To really get the perspective we need, to notice and find the strength and inner conviction to do something differently, we need space and time for reflection and solitude.
I have to confess that I realised what was going on just over a year ago – and it took me almost a year to actually DO something about it. Because I wasn’t willing to let go of stuff that I enjoyed/wanted to do. But I was getting more and more tired, frustrated and overwhelmed. Well, they do say life keeps teaching us the same lessons until we’re ready to learn them…
So, how did I shift things? Well, it started with a single decision a couple of months ago (after reading a book called The Soul of Gardening). I simply decided that Sunday would be an obligation free day. By this I mean no obligations to myself – or anyone else. I created a day where I DIDN’T have to DO ANYTHING! It just FELT right.
And since then, some Sundays I have done absolutely nothing – slept in, read in front of the fire, pottered. And other Sundays I have spent 10 hours making jam and been thoroughly happy. The point of course, is that I check in with myself and ONLY do what I truly feel like on that day. Also, whatever I may THINK (in advance) I might do on the Sunday, I wholeheartedly have permission to change my mind! Remember – no obligations!
But in order to make my obligation free day happen I have had to say no – a lot. At first it felt a bit weird. My hubbie wasn’t initially into it (we have a lot to do on our 5 acre property and home we’ve been renovating). I’ve turned down things I would have enjoyed – and really had to stand my ground. I’ve said no to myself and to others. And sometimes that has been quite uncomfortable. BUT, the wonderful knock-on effect has been that I now have the clarity to say “No” to things that add to my overwhelm (however much I might THINK I want to do it at the time!).
It’s definitely been hard, but now I have not only proved it’s possible to do less, but that it’s possible to do less – and be happier!
Now, you may not be able to have a whole DAY as yours, but you could carve out a morning or afternoon once a week – or even one day a fortnight or month. This is time for you to do whatever you please with no obligations to anyone.
Imagine a regular time-slot free of commitment. Imagine waking up and asking yourself, what do I FEEL like doing today? And then doing it with no guilt, no pressure and no-one other than you to take care of.
So, give yourself the gift of YOU. You are amazing. And you DESERVE it.
Great Questions to Ask Yourself:
- To avoid overwhelm when making a decision ask, “Will this ADD to my peace and happiness?” If not, “Why am I doing this?”
- To pick a time for yourself to have the gift of YOU, “When and how much time could I carve out of my life on a regular basis if I really tried?” Then, “What could get in the way?” and finally, “What am I willing to commit to?”
- To help you with your obligation-free day ask, “What would make me really happy to do (or not do!) today?”, “What would ADD to my peace and happiness today?” and “What do I really FEEL like doing (or not doing) today?”
Tip: This time for the gift of YOU doesn’t have to be followed religiously – you may have a prior commitment, or perhaps something comes up. But commit to yourself for a specific regular time slot, knowing that every rule has occasional exceptions! But I’m willing to bet that once you’ve been doing it for a while, you won’t want to stop…
“There is no pleasure in having nothing to do.
The fun is in having lots to do and not doing it.” Mary Little
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