Okay, one thing I know for sure from working with busy women over the years is that we tend to end up with too much on our plates, way too often. We can’t help it – there are many people who depend on us and need us and, honestly, we mostly like this.
We really like being helpful, even saviors occasionally. We get to feel our competence and confidence and feel like we are being good wives, friends, daughters, parents, workers. The problem is that we too often default to saying yes, when what we should have said is no, or at least – maybe, or I need to check my calendar.
This happens to the wisest, most conscious people I know. And it’s okay. It is almost always coming from our best intentions. We just tend to be better at taking care of others than we are at taking care of ourselves sometimes.
And then we remember or we notice, “oh, there’s that line I hadn’t meant to cross!” Sometimes we miss seeing those lines where our limits are until we cross them. It’s not surprising; they tend to be invisible.
But, fear not, there is a remedy used far less frequently than it should be. It’s called re-contracting. That’s spelled….
Why did it take us all so darn long to learn this word? Some clients whom I have shared this concept with think I’m telling them a new swear word or that I am naive. “But I said I would be there”, “they’re counting on me”, “but I gave my word”, “but there’s no one else who can do it.”
And then they try it. And they thank me.
It’s really surprisingly okay to acknowledge when we have stumbled into one of these situations. The truth is that as women, we all understand how easy it is to happen. We also respect and honor a woman’s ability to take care of herself. We all need more models for this.
When we re-contract, we implicitly give permission for those around us to do the same, knowing we all slip up in our scheduling. We’re humans and things change, priorities shift, people get sick, we feel low ebb, we fail to anticipate the reality of what’s been planned. It’s all okay.
Our calendar can be a trajectory for our time, and represents our best intentions, but staying in conscious choice has to be part of it.
I believe that one of the best aspects of growing older is our ability to know more about our own limits and to realize how very important it is that they be honored. We just get too darn tired of paying the price of not honoring them over and over.
As they say on the airplane, put the oxygen mask on yourself first, then help others. The implication is that if we can’t breathe, we can’t do a good job of helping others.
Our ability to breathe is the foundation of everything else we bring to those we love and the world in which we live. So I strongly recommend that as soon as you realize that you have ended up over-committed, re-contract.