Admitting our weaknesses is not weak. It can feel horribly weak, and dangerously vulnerable, but it takes COURAGE to admit we don’t have it all together and need help.
I have traditionally been horrible at letting anyone help me- and it’s definitely something I’m working on. I wonder if you can identify with me on that?
It recently came to a head for me, when I spectacularly underestimated the toll that a number of major life changes would have on me when they came together!
In my defence, I have moved country multiple times before, so that was nothing new… and my beloved (now husband) and I had lived apart (in different countries!) for years, prior to finally re-inhabiting the same land mass when our work travel schedules permit, so being apart was nothing new…having to build a new life in a new area was nothing new… but when you put all those together into one cocktail of change, it is a potent mix! And of course I hadn’t been married before, so, as wonderful and downright fun as that change is, it is still a change! Even if it’s one that society likes to tell you it’s no big deal. Umm, beg to differ- learning to love another person well day-in, day-out having committed your entire future to them is, to me at least, a whole lot different than being with someone who you could, in harsh reality, drop like a hot potato without too much post-drop extrication.
So adding all those together, a LOT of separation, now WITHOUT friends or family, AND a cram packed travel and seminar schedule, and, as amazing as all these things have been and the MASSIVE degree of gratitude I feel for each of them, I began to struggle.
A ‘dark night of the soul’
I got burnt out. For the first time in a whole lot of years, I reached a bad place. And once I was there, all my carefully crafted skills for taking care of my energy and being able to serve at my best began to leak away too. I buried myself deeper and deeper in my beloved work, all the while giving of myself when my body, mind and heart were running on fumes.
Why am I telling you this? Because I went to a dark place, because I was so busy caring for others that I forgot to take care of myself- and allow OTHERS to care for me too. Should some of them have noticed or perhaps cared enough to see how I was doing? Maybe. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that * I * knew I was struggling and failed to reach out. I was so busy ‘protecting’ those I love, that I completely lacked loving behaviour towards myself.
I know some of you may have whispers in your hearts that want to think less of me for telling you this, for shattering any facade you may have held of me. And if that’s how it goes, then I’m sorry to disillusion you. Yet I KNOW that I am far from alone in sacrificing myself to the detriment of my well-being, when I could- and should- speak up and ask others to help me.
So if this in any way resonates with you, I hope you’ll join me in learning how we can begin to reach out, to gain a little more balance between loving our neighbour and loving ourselves…
Things to do:
- Ask to schedule a time that a friend or family member could meet you for coffee or a call. Ask them to call you.
- TELL someone you’re struggling.
- Get out in daylight- get dressed, leave the house, get fresh air. Don’t hermit yourself away like I did!
- Get more sleep. Our resilience nose-dives when we’re under-slept
- Delegate, anticipate, cut yourself some slack. Change takes some processing, lots of change takes more- learn from my mistake and give yourself space to process when you’re going through major life changes!!
- Look at the bigger picture: what sent me tail-spinning this time was not one factor on its own- it was the combination of major life changes, lots of travel, and a job that I pour everything I’ve got into. At no point did I consider these en masse. Note to self.
- Do your best to eat well and exercise. Anything you can do to support your wider health is going to benefit your mental health and wellbeing too.
I hope this has been helpful to you- if so, please let me know what stands out for you. And if you know someone who needs to read this, please feel free to share it with them.
Thank you for reading so far and I hope that should you begin feeling overwhelmed or burnt out, you can find solace, hope and help in these ideas. When we work together, you will certainly have my empathy on this issue… not to mention my experience to draw on!!
Just in case you were wondering how I am or whether I’m still in a dark place, no I’m not. Thanks for caring 🙂
I had a restorative visit from my dad, I got intentional about reaching out to those I am close to and being honest about where I was at, I took on a hobby that forced me to get out of the house and meet new people AND I started spending more time in my garden and out in nature, which I find restorative generally. I also have allowed myself a lot more lie-ins than I had been and am finding my energy levels returning to their former Tigger-worthy levels.
I have also learned, albeit the hard way, a whole new dimension of self-care that I need to attend to when next I face major live changes coming at me en masse. I hope my experience will also benefit you so you don’t have to go to a dark place like I did to learn that lesson.
Let me know if this has been helpful for you!