If you are a new reader at Life After Tampons, you may not know that the first thing we do when we get here is retreat.
We “start by stopping.”
You just can’t hope to make any lasting change in your life until you stem the outflow of excessive activities, responsibilities, and unfulfilling “stuff” that is holding you back, keeping you down, and, in general, keeping you STUCK in activities that no longer bring you joy.
We begin with retreat, and I’ve created a free 21-day one for you that you can get here if you like.
If you’re exhausted, it’s not because “you’re doing it wrong.” (click to tweet)
One of the biggest challenges for women at midlife is dealing with depletion. Many of us are exhausted. Physically, for sure. But even more challenging is the emotional, mental, and spiritual tiredness that sets in at this age.
The reason that depletion is so prolific at this age, is because the “job” of being an adult woman requires us to extend tremendous energy outside of ourselves. We sacrifice our responsibilities to ourselves in service of our commitments to others.
Some of these commitments we embrace gladly. Others? Not so much. Motherhood, marriage, divorce, aging parents, career, financial challenges, preparation for retirement – we’ve been managing all of this for decades.
And even though the stuff we are doing may be stuff (read “people”) we love and want to continue doing, over time, the continual denial of self begins to take a toll.
So many of my clients come to me utterly exhausted, discouraged, and just plain out of ideas about how to help themselves. The old tools — buck up, pick yourself up by the bootstraps, get over your bad self — just don’t work anymore.
Hopelessness sets in, because it’s really really discouraging to want to change your life, but have absolutely no energy to do it.
In your heart of hearts, you may see a “new you” who is fitter, brighter, more engaged, living a life with more purpose and meaning, but you know that you are going to have to “do stuff” to get you there and you just can’t see your way to the starting gate.
So, we start by stopping.
If you are depleted right now, here is my suggestion: Take a 30-day moratorium on “yes.”
Okay, stop shouting at me in your head. Yes, I hear you –
“Right. What planet do you live on, Jen?”
“Must be nice to have such an uncomplicated life that you can just say “no” to stuff.”
“And exactly who will get the kids to their jujitsu lessons?”
Here’s the thing, love – If you drop dead from a heart attack due to your exhausted, stressed-out state, the people around you are going to figure out how to get through the next 30 days without you. And, whether you like this reality or not, someday they are going to have to do just that.
We all are.
Recently, I suggested to a client that, for the next 30 days, she aspire to being a Mediocre Mom. She knew she needed to do something, so she gave it a shot.
During those 30-days, we worked on uncovering and healing the motivation behind her excessive selflessness.
Guess what we found there? Yep. Guilt. Shame. And a stubborn unforgiveness that she had toward self. Once she had the courage to stop running from these emotional boogie men, she was able to see the destructive hold these feelings had on her life.
Then, she was able to see that her over-functioning was actually starting to hurt the people she loved, because her exhaustion was a fertile breeding ground for resentment, hopelessness, and all other joy killers.
So, if you’re exhausted today, stop.
Make it a game, make it a challenge to figure out the absolute LEAST you can get by with doing for the next 30-days, and then try to shave some stuff off of that list.
Delegate, let the dust bunnies be fruitful and multiply, skip the kids’ ballgames and get a massage instead. Get still, listen to your own heart, and the wisdom and clarity you need will bubble to the surface.
And, if you need help, ask for it below, in the comments. We have an amazing community of wise women here. Help is on the way.
P.S. If you missed that retreat sign-up, here’s the link.
photo: flickr, futurestreet