We all have obligations and responsibilities that we must undertake no matter what. We have to earn a living. We have to pay the bills. We have to care for our families, and do chores.
With everything that we have to do, there is almost always a simpler way of doing it; but many of us complicate our lives unnecessarily. We take on extra responsibilities because we feel we should or because we simply can’t say no.
We compromise our own health, happiness and serenity by stretching ourselves to please others.
For some it may be an ingrained need for approval. For me it came from expectations that my mother placed on me when I was very young. She labelled me as the reliable one; the child she could always count on to not let her down. That expectation has influenced just about every aspect of my life, and even today I still have to remind myself that it’s ok not to be everything to everyone. That it’s better for me and for others if I give quality over quantity.
Do you stretch yourself too thinly? Are you the one who takes responsibility for the house; the kids; your ageing parents; the elderly neighbour; the pets; the shopping and the bills? Do you also taxi family members everywhere or bail them out when they’re in trouble or need money? Do you drive the kids to their sporting matches and volunteer in the canteen? Are you the one who puts in extra time at work for no extra pay? Is it your job to remember everyone’s birthday and buy the gifts? Is it assumed that you’ll babysit the grandchildren every other weekend? Whew! No wonder you’re feeling stretched.
We need to seriously look at what we’re taking on and why. Over-stretching yourself can affect your health and wellbeing. Maybe a good place to start is to make a list of every obligation. Not the stuff you love to do - like going to yoga class or hosting dinner parties or going to your grandson’s school play. If you love it, do it; but what about some of the other stuff?
Look at each thing on your list. Why do you do it at all? What can you drop? What’s the worst thing that will happen if you say no to something, and can you live with that outcome? What things can you enlist help with? Or that you can delegate or share? Will anyone think less of you if you drop back your volunteering to once a month, or give it up altogether?
As for the kids, I know one of the hardest things in the world to do is to say no to your children, but trust me on this - sometimes it’s the most loving thing you can do for them. They may not recognise it immediately, but it will help them to grow and become independent in the long run, and isn’t that the idea?