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When you think of the term self-medicating your first thought is probably of people drinking alcohol or taking drugs to relieve stress and mask the other issues going on in their lives. This does happen more often than not.
What if I was to tell you that there is another way I see women self-medicating? It’s happening all the time and I myself used it as a coping mechanism for many years.
It’s called adding more layers of “busy” to mask what’s really going on in your life.
You know the feeling. It's when you are at capacity with your commitments and stressed. You are struggling to see the forest through the trees, you’re feeling unsure of how you are going to get EVERYTHING done today, this week, this month. You are being pulled in a million different directions and YET...
You keep saying YES to every suggestion that comes up “I’ll do that!”. Going to an event, volunteering for things, agreeing to help a friend, squeezing in new projects at your kids’ school, at work, or even kicking off a new business, or second business before the first is profitable (guilty).
Taking on more, and more and more. Until the “busy” drowns everything out.
Because who can think straight when you’re THAT busy? It allows you to push all the emotions, the thoughts, and the feelings deep deep down inside of you.
So, you don’t have to think about “that thing” that caused you to self-medicate with all those layers of busy.
YOU'VE self-sabotaged yourself. And wait for the atom bomb to explode.
Because who can physically do it all? With the level of busy chaos you’ve created running from here to there, holding everyone and everything up – to mask how you are really feeling. What happens next?
YOU break. You have a melt-down. You yell at your kids. You screw something up at work. You drop the ball. You get sick, your body lets you down and forces you to physically STOP and you cannot fulfill ALL your crazy commitments.
And then you give yourself permission to berate yourself for being a failure.
For not being “good enough” or "strong enough" to do it all. When all you were doing was setting unreal expectations on your time anyway...
But, why? Why do we do it?
We use “busy” as a means for hiding and denying,. To diminish our feelings. And we use our failure of not being able to “do it all” as a means of control.
Our programming says – isn’t it better to control your own failure…? Rather than having to deal with “that thing” you are hiding? Because apparently when explored “that thing” is going to tell you exactly what you already now… you are a failure anyway and you can’t handle this.
What’s so hard about just dealing with the problem, the emotion or the situation that is causing us pain?
I’ve seen this self-medicating with “busy” pattern happen many times over and over again, in my life. When I had events happening around me that were too much to bare, too much to process, I would throw myself into work. Saying to myself “thank god I can focus on work, it’s the only thing keeping me sane”. Sound familiar?
And yet, all it did was break me down. Juggling a family, a career, and a side hustle should have been fulfilling enough. Yet I would take on more to strive for a feeling of accomplishment. I'll be honest. I wanted recognition “look how much she can handle! WOW, she must have it ALL TOGETHER!”. When what I really yearned for the opposite. For calm, balance and to be present in the moment.
THEN I BROKE. My body broke, I would repeatedly get sick. I didn’t listen to the signs. I would continue to push through until I was forced into bed rest. Lose my voice so I couldn't speak. Forced to stop. So, then I could hate on my body and myself even more… “I am so weak, look at me I cannot even hold my life together” and play victim “Why me? Why do I get sick all the time? Why doesn’t this happen to anyone else but me?”
One day I woke up and made the commitment to myself, to my husband, to my son to stop adding more "busy", to step out of overwhelm and deal with "that thing".
If this is a pattern for you to… its ok, I got you ;)
Here are my 4 biggest insights for getting back to basics
and shedding the layers of “busy” in your life:
1) Evaluate the situation - take a moment of quiet, sit with yourself and ask:
2) If the request for your time is someone else’s "urgent" – then it’s not important
I mean really, if this one thing is going to derail you, turn your schedule on its head with what someone else values as "urgent" then it’s not important to you! And if it’s important I am sure it can wait until you have time to process the request. If they need an answer back straight away, say “leave it with me and let me look at my calendar, I’ll get back to you shortly”. This helps you to protect your time.
3) Say No, instead of Yes!
There is something really powerful in the word NO. This may be a new concept for you – “No” can actually be a full sentence (lol). It doesn’t have to be backed up with reasons, or explanation. "No" means = I have enough on my plate and I respect my time.
4) Reach out and talk to someone
News flash - “that thing” that you are trying to deny or mask, isn’t going to go away. Typically, it festers until it explodes. Eventually it will come up in whatever raging form it takes, and you’ll have to deal with it. It may completely and totally overwhelm you until the point where you decide and say OK – its time. Most of the time bringing into the light “that thing” and airing it, gives it a different perspective.
It is so much easier to breath and be present in life when you are on the relaxed side of "busy".
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