Going and going and going and going...until I was as fresh out of steam as the Little Engine that totally couldn't anymore... after consistent events of my body giving out, laying helpless feeling fatigued in bed and surrounded with thoughts of shoulda woulda could've, I came to the realization that if I wanted to continue helping people, I really needed to get my health back in order.
It wasn't surprising to the people closest to me that I was notorious for over doing it, and then eventually paying for it later. But, how was I suppose to know that this would ever turn into a major issue? I certainly don't remember attending any classes during the years I attended school that covered the topic of self-love vs. selfishness.
In the past, I believed saying "Yes!" to every person I could say yes to was my conscious effort of being a "supportive friend." To spend quality time in the morning with my girl friends during the day, attending celebratory events of family and friends, going out dancing with my night owl friends, taking on back to back projects for business and pleasure, going on a ton of trips, and counseling friends and new people in my life. I genuinely enjoyed sharing and giving my time with people, but to constantly do this back to back with no rest in between was wearing on me. And how selfish was I, to even consider thinking about taking a break to just simply catch my breath again?
It wasn't until I consistently worked myself to a place of misery, physically, mentally and energetically drained out of control, when I decided to try something new. One day, my boyfriend expressed to me how concerned he was about my health and the way I was managing my time. After many talks and finding myself in need of his help to make me soup and run to the nearest natural food market to pick up flu medicine to get me better again, I decided to commit towards a practice of more self love and self respect.
Thank goodness I had him as a living example of the benefits of recharging and self love. I noticed that he would spend a lot of time alone, hanging out at home, working out, and lounging around the house and this gave him more energy to really enjoy quality time alone and with others. He was constantly nourished.
During times when I felt like being the supportive friend I desired to be, I slowly changed my thought process from saying "YES!" right away, to checking in with myself to see if I needed to say "No" to my friends and "Yes" to recharging and nourishing myself. It didn't come easy to me. I must admit, I had to practice being more mindful and aware of what I was doing and my approach to things. Because anytime I was to say "no", guilt would set in and my old self would just want to change my mind and say "yes!"
And now that I've put in the work, I have been given the opportunity to have a lot more "me-time," a happier boyfriend, and pleased friends who I can still support. It's a WIN, WIN!
When I feel like my energy is rapidly depleting, I use this time to do what ever my heart desires, in honor of my well being. Surfing, meditating in our tree house in the back yard, going for a walk, or sleeping in on my cozy bed have been the perfect rejuvenating me-time activities for me. And even more so, a gift.
Because, I discovered that the more I would take the time to nourish, recharge and love myself, the more space I'd create in order to really support those I chose to say "yes" to. So, instead of going for quantity, unrealistically thinking I could support all of these people around me without taking time for myself to heal, when I do say yes to them, I'm able to commit to giving a quality yes.
I then succeed as being of support to people in need and I still have the energy to be healthy and free to adventure with a spark of life.
Taking notice to what is going on in your world, your internal dialogue vs. the things you actively commit to, ask yourself how is it effecting your energy and your relationship with others? Do you find yourself drained and sick all the time, while your main focus is to please everyone and in exchange you have very little time for relaxation or are you finding yourself energized and able to put in a fulfilling amount of time being of service to others?
And if you realize, after taking a step back, you can't go on with the way you've been managing your time and sacrificing your health for the sake of "helping" others, it may be time to change things up. For some of you, it may come easier than others. But, if you are anything like how I was, what helped me to really make the changes, was reminding myself that saying "no" can hold just as much power as saying "yes." Saying "no" can mean saying "yes" to quality of life...quality "me time" and quality time serving others.