Lighten your load

“My experiences have shown me that life truly is a journey, and the less baggage we carry, the easier the ride.” -Wally Amos

Are you a ‘yes’ person? Are you overwhelmed by the problems your friends and loved ones are facing, often unable to deal with your own issues at hand? Are you taking things to heart that you should be letting go of?

So was I, and at times, I still am. But I’m learning every day that you are your own priority, and sometimes the things that seem to weigh heavy simply aren’t worth the emotional investment.

Stop carrying the burden of others

I enjoy listening. I prefer to listen, in fact, and not talk. When friends or loved ones come to me in moments of despair, I take it upon myself to not only listen, but to provide solutions. But at a point in my life about one year ago, I was taking on such a great deal and carrying the burden of so many others that it began to impact my day-to-day. I wasn’t taking care of myself, and was in fact dedicating so much of myself and my personal time to other people, that my own well-being was in danger.

Only after hearing from a third party that this wasn’t an effective, or healthy, way of living did I start to make changes. I began by making time for myself, whether it was going out for an afternoon to take photos or attending a yoga class; I found that even an hour or two made a difference.

Challenge: Be a better emotional guide for friends and family by taking care of yourself first and foremost.

Stop saying “yes” when you want to say “no”

I am very much a ‘yes’ person. This is true of my personal and professional life and carrying the burden of others (see above) was often the consequence of always saying yes. However when yes is the answer when often times it should be no, detriment is likely to follow.

I had to learn that sometimes saying no was not only okay, it was necessary. Saying no didn’t mean I was a bad friend, it just meant I wasn’t always able to comply without sacrificing my own needs.

In saying no, I learned the consequences weren’t severe. More so, I would say the consequences were nonexistent. And in the end, I learned to be more assertive in these situations while putting my needs first, all the while remaining a loyal friend.

But sometimes it’s not possible to say “no” at work, is it? You likely can’t tell your manager you’re simply not going to complete a project. However, if you feel that completing said project within the given guidelines or deadlines isn’t reasonable, it’s okay to voice your hesitations and work with whomever necessary to make sure the job is done right – and realistically.

Challenge: Say “no” at least once a week when you need to. It will become easier the more you practice.

Stop taking things so personally

It’s easy to take things personally, particularly on social media. You log onto your personal account, where messages pollute your personal timeline that sometimes offend your personal values. Online feuds ensue.

I avoid these public fights and feuds, however my ego is still impacted and influenced very much in the real world by things that happen in this digital realm. I tend to take a de-friending, for example, quite hard, assigning the blame fully on myself and wondering what I might have done differently. If only I had wished her a happy birthday last year!

But no matter how much I fret over the dreaded de-friending, the fact is that your emotional energy is better invested elsewhere. Perhaps the person that de-friended you simply didn’t think you should have access to their life. That’s okay.

I find that the older I get, the more valuable my relationships become. Cherish the ones you’re certain of.

Challenge: Step back to evaluate the situations that arise. If you take something personally, ask yourself if there’s anything you truly could have done to prevent it. Make sure you know the difference between what you can and cannot control, and what you are and are not responsible for.

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