I am a self confessed people pleaser. I think most of us want to be liked in one way shape or form but when we take on tasks for others at the detriment of our own personal goals and well being it really isn’t healthy.
For any of you that have ever been on a flight you will know that you should put on your own gas mask before helping someone else fit theirs. It’s a great analogy to keep in mind for every area of life really, because if you are feeling frustrated and exhausted from doing everything for everyone else all the time eventually you are going to get poorly and be no use to anyone.
We all only have 24 hours in a day and at least 8 of these should be dedicated to sleep!! Well, I know I need at least eight hours if I want to function properly the next day. But the point to remember is, if you are saying yes to one thing filling any time in your life, then you are saying NO to something else that you could be dedicating those precious hours to. Given the option, do you really want to do whatever it is you are asked to do/help with right now? If not then you probably won’t want to do it later either. Just say no right now.
It’s not about saying no to everything though because sometimes when friends and family are in need then nothing else matters in those moments. It’s just about making more conscious decisions about what it is you want from your life before you put what someone else wants first. It may help to put down on paper a list of all the things that you actually want to be, do or have and memorise it. When you are working to someone else's agenda you will not be propelling yourself forward towards your own dreams, you’ll just be sitting in a boat that is spinning in the middle of a pond that never gets from A to B.
My own experience of this is with creative projects. My heart would yearn to get stuck into some art work, sewing or such like but I would never find time to do it – because I was always allowing my time to be sucked up by less important tasks. By bringing this up and talking it through with my own coach I came to the realisation that to remedy this was simple and all I needed to do was to put some non negotiable ‘creative space’ in my diary each week. I’m now working on sewing some black out curtains for the nursery, as well as the wooden pelmet boards and I have the blocks of time in my diary necessary to make sure I’m able to get it done.
When you start to say no to others you will probably feel guilty at first but eventually you should find it empowering, and truthfully, other people will wish they did the same because you will become happier and therefore more productive in the long run.
But be prepared that there will be some people who will try and use your good nature to their advantage, they won’t accept your new found clear concise ‘no’s’ or the valid reasons behind them (you may already have one or two people who spring to mind who are like this) These are the people you’ve probably already noticed you don’t even really enjoy being around as they drain your energy. Allow them to simply slip away and take no notice of their hostility towards the new non compromising you. You’re better off without them. If it’s a family member that you can’t simply be rid of then make sure you are prepared for any calls/meetings with them and manage your boundaries carefully, sometimes meeting on neutral territory rather than their office or house can really help.
We’d love to hear from you on this subject. What are your personal ‘important’ tasks that you keep putting off because you are constantly tackling other people's ‘urgent’ agendas? Do you have a top tip you can share with the group on how to combat our people pleasing ways?
What is wealth? If you do a quick Google search and click on images you are instantly bombarded with lots and lots of pictures of gold, stacks of cash, money trees, people rolling around in cash, dollar and pound signs, piles of money getting bigger etc etc.
But is it all about money?
The Wikipedia definition, which is also brought up through the Google search, says that ‘Wealth is the abundance of valuable resources or valuable material possessions.’
A wealth of knowledge is not a material possession but is of course a valuable resource. As is time.
If you search wealth quotes and click on images (I’m a visual person!) you end up with some conflicting messages of what true wealth is, of course these messages are an individual’s personal view or experience of wealth and wealth generation. The conflict is that many are about not needing money to be happy, that character and trust are the truest measures of worth, a few have tips and tricks to generating cash too. My personal favorite is ‘So many people spend their health gaining wealth and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health.’ It’s a strong message in my eyes as many of us jump on a treadmill and never stop to think just exactly how much we actually need, we don’t consider how much is enough, we just keep going because that is what society expects of us. More, more, more!! And to what expense, our health, our relationships?
My reflection on this is that only you can decide if you are wealthy in a way you would wish to be. But you have to take the time to figure out exactly what it is you want, what is important to you? REALLY important to you, and this IS important.
Will Smith once said, ‘Too many people spend money they haven’t got to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.’ Maybe not all of us are spending money we don’t have but I think a lot of us can put our hands up to trying to impress others every now and again, keeping up with the Joneses or even simply worrying what other family members will think we should be doing/achieving etc. WHAT DO YOU WANT? And what do you enjoy?
Going back to the subject of time, which I hinted at earlier, surely this is the most valuable resource we have. It is a leveller too – all of us have exactly the same amount of time (OK – so some of us outsource tasks which frees up more of our time but you see what I am getting at) what will you do with your time? When you get to the end of your life will you say, wow I wish I had spent more time at my desk, scrolling through Facebook or watching Eastenders or will you wish you had spent more time learning about a subject that interests you, seeing the world or being with family and friends? Only you can know what truly makes your heart sing.
Don’t waste your time working towards some other person’s goal. Take time out to sit with your thoughts for a while and decide what truly makes you happy. As Howard Thurman once said, ‘Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive, because the world needs people who have come alive.’
Surely then, true wealth is an abundance of what you personally define as a valuable resource for yourself. Mine would be having the time to walk my boxer dog Brunel which gives me a healthy pursuit and a sense of wellbeing, recharging my batteries and leaving me in a better position to tackle the other tasks of the day.
Last week I was really ill, I had to clear my schedule and pretty much sleep the whole time which was so frustrating.
On the Friday morning I woke up feeling a little bit better, I scrolled through my Facebook feed while still in bed (a terrible habit I would like to get out of!) and came across a post from a local art community. My heart ached as if I had not been ill I was meant to be taking my mum to the Waterperry Art in Action event in Oxfordshire that day.
I love art, I have dabbled a little. When I was still living in Cheltenham there was a great drop in center you could go to on a Thursday night and pretty much try your hand at whatever you liked. We’ve moved house twice since then and I have still not managed to find a class quite like it. In that moment I decided to have another look for a class I could take, I’d really love to learn how to paint properly. I found myself looking at art retreat holiday and I began to weep.
What I haven’t explained is that I am also 26 weeks pregnant with our first child, so being drained and emotional, I was crying because this wasn’t the first time I had looked something up that I wanted to do, only to remember that my life was going to change beyond recognition very soon.
So far my career has seen me on the road creating in store displays for an international home and gift wholesaler, working for myself as an interior designer, carrying out various office admin jobs, working in a gallery, working as a pot wash in a kitchen! I’ve been an internal sales manager, and an operations manager for two different companies; then flown solo again as a property investor and now another career change into life coaching which I adore.
But what do I really love most? What puts me in the zone where time just flies by and I couldn’t be happier or more in touch with myself and my thoughts? Creating. Art and design. Either looking at it or actually trying to achieve something myself. But I hardly ever do it.
If I am honest, my ideal future ‘me’ dream is to own an arts center where people can come and experience all different types of art and craft but somehow I never find myself working towards that. I am always working towards ideas that seem more tangible for the here and now.
So when I found myself weeping it was because I was cross with myself for not investing more time and money in my passion, in what makes me happy before this point in my life (36 years old and pregnant.) And this is because I’ve always bowed to outside influences of working towards money rather than a life that makes me happy. Luckily with coaching I have started to turn this around.
I am sure our baby will also make me happy, no doubt, and hey – I’m not about to die any time soon I hope! But when mum called on Sunday to say that she had ‘good news and bad news,’ the good being that she and her friend had been to Waterperry on Saturday instead and had a lovely time, the bad being that after 40 years that was the final Art in Action weekend at Waterperry meaning I had properly missed out, I couldn’t help but feel that I had stupidly missed so many opportunities. Mum and I went when I was 19 and had been talking of going again ever since, I just simply hadn’t organised myself to accommodate it.
Luckily there will be plenty of time to pick up my paint brushes in the future and if I can’t make a class I am sure I will be able to look up some ‘How to’ videos on YouTube. There will be other similar art in action type events around the country too I’m sure BUT it really was a good wake up call for me and I wanted to ask you – what do you put off? What would you really rather be doing?
My husband isn’t into art at all but he is quite happy to drag me around beer festivals and brewery tours because home brewing is his passion and I support him. He did pay for my art classes in Cheltenham as a wedding present but like I say I haven’t found anything similar since, I am sure when we take some time off next week he won’t mind a few gallery tours…
It’s not to say you need to make a career out of whatever it is you have been denying yourself, but just put your foot down and make some time for that one special thing that makes your heart sing. I really notice my energy drops when I spend weeks of too much time on the ‘shoulds’ and not enough time on what really brings me joy, it’s not frivolous time wasting it’s investing in your soul.
Thankfully mental health is getting a lot more positive attention in the media nowadays which is really great but even so, for some people there can still be a lot of stigma attached to admitting when you are struggling.
This is such a shame because the person suffering through a low point, male or female, can often feel like they shouldn’t admit they are having difficulties and therefore suffer on in silence with little support which in turn can make the problem even worse.
As a life coach and through my volunteering work as a listener for the Samaritans it seems to me that we are slaves to our thoughts, it’s not always about what has actually happened but how we feel and think about what has happened which traps us. If we truly believe something to be a certain way it is very hard to be persuaded otherwise unless we have hard evidence to prove us wrong.
Our minds are very good at gathering evidence to support our beliefs and they filter out anything that doesn’t fit with our view of the world. This is a good and a bad thing, bad if you choose to dwell on negatives but excellent if you can push these thoughts aside and find something good and forward thinking to focus on.
The challenge therefore is to practice, practice, practice!
Make time to exercise your mental muscle so that through practice it can banish unhelpful thoughts from your head and leave space to nurture productive and positive thoughts, and then subsequently while you are looking out to the world with these positive thoughts your mind will gather the appropriate evidence to back them up and build on them and before you know it you are on an upward spiral.
Clearly as a Samaritan I would advocate calling the Samaritans (Free phone number 116 123) whenever you are feeling a bit down and don’t feel you can share with friends and family. Contrary to popular belief you do not have to be suicidal to call the Samaritans and please don’t feel your issues are too trivial as nipping them in the bud is far better than letting them spiral out of control to the point where you are in a right mess! You will never be judged, the Samaritan will simply listen and help you explore your thoughts and feelings, sometimes just saying things out loud can really help you make better sense of what you are experiencing.
So if you have tried sitting down with a cuppa, a hot bath, an early night or Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and that just ain’t cuttin’ it – TALK to someone! After all, a problem shared is a problem halved.
Learn more about the Samaritans - www.samaritans.org