Everyone has their own journey and responsibility for themselves. People we love may struggle but that doesn’t mean it’s our job to fix it. What if we held space for problems, sadness, illness but didn’t become burdened with the need to fix everything? And…maybe that even extends to our own lives. See the big picture of your health with Michelle’s free tracking system at: HealthCoachPower.com/HowIFeel
In this episode you’ll hear about:
- The value of understanding when it’s not your circus and not your monkeys
- How emotional boundaries keep you healthy
- How extending grace to others’ problems and issues allows us to be more forgiving of ourselves
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Minding your own business
Years ago, I was an advertising art director working in Boston. One of our smaller clients was a old-timey theme park – you know, dress up like colonial times and learn how wool is made? That.
This account was actually held by our smaller D.C. office. And at a company’s headquarters there’s often a sense of the smaller offices somehow being inferior.
Well, I was charged with going to D.C. and consulting on this client account.
Let’s just say it was difficult to get colonial times into the digital age. But as a consultant, you don’t really care, right? You do your best because it’s your job and then you walk away.
Not my monkey, not my circus. You gave what you could give.
That may sound kind of harsh, but within this story is a really good example of boundaries and about letting things be the way that they are.
What are you making yourself responsible for?
Here’s an opposite example. A friend of mine has a family member who’s struggling emotionally. She finds herself spending hours and hours soothing that person, worrying about that person, and trying to fix that person’s problem. It causes her an awful lot of stress as you can imagine, and started to impact her health.
Maybe you’ve been in a situation like this?
The worst part is that there’s really nothing she can do to help.
We can be there for other people of course, especially our family members and loved ones. But she’s like me back in that D.C. office where I couldn’t fix the big problems. As a 28-year-old art director, I could only show up and give what I had to give.
My suggestion to this friend was all about emotional boundaries.
Yes, be loving, be kind, but you have to remember that every person has a journey and a responsibility for themselves and the people that we love may struggle. That doesn’t mean it’s our job to fix it.
It’s okay to struggle sometimes. It’s part of the process. It’s how people find their own way in the world. In the meantime, we don’t burn out trying to be the savior or trying to make them do it our way.
The beauty of imperfection
What if we held space for problems and challenges and sadness and illness and didn’t allow ourselves to become burdened with the need to fix it?
I’ve got to tell you, I’ve been practicing this myself in a situation that’s really difficult and close to home. For anyone that’s divorced with kids, you’re going to understand this completely.
I don’t necessarily agree with a lot of how my kids’ father makes parenting decisions, or decisions in general. Sometimes I’m flat-out disgusted or enraged.
And these ARE my monkeys. But over there, it’s not my circus.
So when things happen that I desperately want to fix, it’s difficult.
This brings an amazing opportunity to learn how to step back and allow the chaos and the nonsense, allow my kids to learn from it. I talk to them about it. Hug them real tight.
Beyond that, 99% of the time, I can’t fix it.
Here’s where it gets really, really interesting…
You don’t have to micromanage your life
Once we can look at other people and say, “Okay, I love you, but this is your journey, not mine. I’ll give what I can give, but I’ll also allow space for things to work out the way that they’re going to work out”…
Maybe we can start to do it for ourselves. Like, a tiny bit.
We’ve been led to believe that our whole lives, you step on the scale, you see a number that you feel is a problem, and then there’s this urge to fix it.
What if you didn’t?
Maybe the weight is fine the way it is. You just crossed that to-do right off the list, along with fixing your other so-called imperfections. Maybe it’s okay that the couch has a pile of laundry, or that your eyebrows haven’t been waxed in weeks or months. Maybe it’s okay if you don’t volunteer for school this year, or if you don’t fight for that promotion at work. Is it possible?
Can we allow ourselves to just be on our own messy journey?
Turns out, even if it is your monkey and your circus, you can still decide when and how to put your efforts towards the fixing and the changing…or just letting things be.
Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good
I want to challenge you.
Instead of deciding that your diet is no good or you’re not healthy enough, just observe. Sometimes one area of your life or of your health isn’t doing fantastic right now, but other areas are doing great and we forget to look at those.
I’ve got a 10-point tracking system to help you with this type of observing to see the whole, great, big, balanced picture, and you can get that system for free at ShesGotPower.com/HowIFeel.
Give it a try. You’re not going to get a perfect score every day – or even most days. No one does, but that’s kind of the point. Just because things aren’t exactly perfect, we don’t always have to fix them.