Despite what you were taught, were told you should feel guilty for, or what you believe, not everyone deserves access to you. When it comes to your time, energy, and focus, people have to earn their right to you. This includes your toxic family member(s), flaky friends, inconsiderate colleague(s) or managers, and/or acquaintances who show up only when they want something.
We live in a society where attention is the highest commodity. And the distractions, stressors, and demands for our bandwidth are only going to increase from here. That’s why we must protect ourselves and only allow in people, content, and opportunities that truly serve us. Unless it makes you a better person, more money, and/or helps you significantly serve your purpose, you do not have time for it. (And that’s ok!)
You may be telling yourself, “that sounds incredibly selfish”. No, it’s not! It’s the highest form of self-care.
(Emotional sidelines: You were conditioned to believe this is selfish and being selfish is a bad thing. Unfortunately, this is so people can continue to take advantage of your kindness and generosity for their emotional, professional, or social gain. Giving in to this projected guilt makes you more susceptible to being taken for granted, under-appreciated, and continuously disrespected. That’s why we need to stand up for ourselves, set and defend our boundaries. Now, back to the article)
When you’re stretched too thin (and we’ve all been there), we are exhausted. Mentally, physically, emotionally, all of it! We simply don’t have the energy, time, or focus to do the things we need to do, let alone enjoy.
We all have obligations that require our attention: taking care of ourselves – mind, body, and soul. Do our best to show up at work feeling competent, confident, and challenged in the best ways possible. We need to be present and active members in our relationships – partner(s), friends, family, and community. We also need to decompress, have fun, and grow as individuals, professionals, leaders, and global citizens!
With so many people, opportunities, and channels taxing our time, energy, and focus, it’s easy to deprioritize ourselves. Oftentimes, this means minimizing our needs, space, and expectations (which really effing sucks!)
When we’re overwhelmed, we don’t have the capacity or bandwidth to take care of ourselves, so how do we expect to do that for others?
We simply can’t. And that’s why setting safeguards and perimeters to weed out what’s unnecessary, draining, and toxic is so important. That said, it isn’t easy to do (yet!).
(Emotional sidelines: You may be resistant and feel a sense of guilt. That’s totally normal! If you’re anything like me, you’re used to be available for everyone at any time or anything. Also, like me, you can’t see yourself cutting people off and not caring. That’s just not who you are (or me for that matter). It’s also not what I’m saying here!)
What I’m saying is give yourself permission to advocate for yourself.
Say “yes!” to opportunities that bring you joy. Say “thank you, but I can’t right now” when it’s not what you actually want or are even capable of doing! Say “that makes me uncomfortable” and have that necessary conversation regarding boundaries whenever you feel like someone crossed the line (intentionally or unintentionally! You have to hold people accountable and you can do this in a respectful manner).
You deserve to be happy. And the best way to set you up for success in being happy is to reclaim control over your time, energy, and focus. That way, you can invest them in activities, relationships, and opportunities that fulfill your purpose, makes you money, and makes a positive impact on yourself, your community, and the world.
Because ain’t no one have time for nonsense!
Inspired by a Clubhouse Conversation on Building Healthy Relationships with Emily Zhong, Jimmy White IV,
Anza Goodbar, Leonna Luc, & Amanda Kelly Espiritu