This year I resolve to make myself a priority,to listen to my own voice over anyone else, to set limits and to self-soothe.
I realize I have the intrinsic motivation to take charge. I have the compulsion to do more than my share. As the single head of household I naturally assume responsibility for the management of the household, paying the bills, doing the chores, preparing the food. As an entrepreneur I am solely responsible for my business. I cannot afford to let things go. If I do not do the work it would not get done.
The lifestyle I created suits my personality. I like to be busy. I am more comfortable being busy. I feel the best when I am functioning at full capacity. I feel relevant and important. I have a purpose and a place. Fear of losing my place and of disappearing drives my relentless activity. It is hard for me to sit and relax. However, the constant movement sets me up for burnout and exhaustion.
I also realize that I partner with others who do not do their share, or will gladly let me do it all. I find this trait to be common with those who are suffering from the disease of addiction. Their inaction causes them distress. I am sensitive to distress. It is as if I catch their distress. I am filled with fear and anxiety. And my response to these disturbing feelings is over-functioning. I step in, take charge and solve the problem.
I know that distress in my loved one causes distress in me. My feelings of distress motivate me to take unnecessary action. If I can reduce your distress by over functioning, taking charge of what does not belong to me, I can solve the problem. When the problem is solved my over-functioning behavior is reinforced. I feel better. But at what price? I am exhausted, depleted and resentful.
Understanding the reason for my sensitivity to distress is helpful but does not make me feel better. When I step in and solve a problem, I feel relevant, and important. If I am useful I won’t be left alone. Being left alone is what underlies my fear.
I understand by doing for others what they should do themselves interferes with their learning. I cannot expect others to change, or exhibit less distress. I cannot expect others to do what they are not capable of doing. I cannot expect them to do their part. But I do not need to do it for them. I am only responsible for my part.
So, what is my part? What do I need to change to feel more comfortable? It is empowering to realize it is within my power to change my perceptions. It also is within my ability to take different actions. Or to not act, to not respond, to let go. I am learning to manage the fear that gets ignited when I do not take charge. Don’t just do something, sit there. The simple act of taking a deep breath of walking away or responding with a “that is interesting let me think about it”.
I used to think it was the others who needed to change. If they did their part and respected my feelings I would feel better. However, it is my responsibility to protect myself. I can’t expect others to know what I need. I am responsible for myself and I have tools to feel better.
Finding connection with positive people, in nature, and with God helps me feel better. I can make good decisions for myself but I don’t need to make them for anyone else. My loved ones also have a God of their understanding and it is up to them to make the connection and figure things out.
The anecdote to over-functioning and taking charge is to keep the focus on me. My recovery is about finding my identity. It is deciding what is important to me. It is making myself a priority and not what I can do for someone else.
This year I will treat myself better.