Sometimes our days get so hectic, and we forget to slow down enough to take care of ourselves. We erase our personal boundaries and believe if we just give more, all will be okay. But this mindset can lead to burnout.
Anne Helen Petersen, author of Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation, writes:
“…the burnout condition is more than just addiction to work. It’s an alienation from the self and from desire. If you subtract your ability to work, who are you? Is there a self left to excavate?
We aren’t infinite creatures of energy. We need to have limits so we can refill. Which led me to think about personal boundaries. Then I asked myself these four questions:
I turned this into a journal writing exercise to see where my inner wisdom would lead me.
One afternoon, on a late walk, these words came to me: “The more we try to walk into the light, the bigger our shadow grows.”
Then I thought, we can’t be real if we only share what’s going well. What if we shared a little more of what’s going wrong to normalize how we aren’t perfect but beautifully real?
It is hard to be ourselves. We are told not to feel too much and to toughen up. “Don’t take it personally” is another adage flavored with condescension and minimizing one’s sensitivity.
What if you do take it personally and feel hurt? I know, at times, I do, and it really aches to be dismissed.
Are we supposed to tuck more proverbial nonsense under an already bulging rug? I think not, and yet, sometimes, we’ve become too conditioned and pretend we are okay.
But what if we aren’t okay. What if we are tired, annoyed, and irritable? What if we don’t always want to be nice and polite? What if we have an opinion different from the majority? What if we think and feel in layers, so we simply need more time alone?
I feel our sensitivity and differences are a gift. And that means we are intelligent creatures who choose to set personal boundaries. By doing so, we respect and appreciate our needs.
“Let go the people who are not prepared to love you. This is the hardest thing you will have to do in your life, and it will also be the most important thing. — Anthony Hopkins
We know, not everyone will love us, and sometimes, those who say they do really don’t! What a mixed signal! With the latter, we sense an undercurrent of contrary feelings. We notice something is off but can’t quite put our finger on it. Yet we feel the mixed signal, deep, deep, deep down in our gut.
One of the most challenging life lessons is to stop trying to gain any sort of close relationship with a person who doesn’t accept us as we are. Of course, we aren’t perfect, and that is the crux of being human. Our imperfect quirks are our beauty and intelligence.
Here’s a way to help us let go of people who are not prepared to love us is to watch out for mixed signals.
We tend to repeat toxic relationships with partners, friends, coworkers, and the like because of the role models we received as a child. The more aware we become of those patterns, the less likely we will continue seeking and repeating them unconsciously. First, though, we need to bring our awareness to such negative relationships and what attracts us to them.
Over the decades, I have had several deeply committed, long-term relationships. However, after a lot of self-analysis, therapy, education, and support from friends and therapists, I learned how these partners had components of significant control and toxicity. I also began to understand that I gravitated towards such relationships because they were familiar to me.
Sometimes I shake my head and wonder, when will I get the message? But, I do know, learning takes time and not to be too hard on myself.
What an emotional and busy month it has been. I feel like I’ve been inside of a blender and set to puree. My natural introverted self enjoys a much quieter and slower pace. Nevertheless, with the help of a timely, synchronistic quote, I am feeling much better.
Before I share the quote, here’s a little history about synchronicity and some examples.
Synchronicity in a nutshell
Carl Jung was a psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology, also known as Jungian psychology.
“Jung believed that many occurrences labeled as “coincidences,” are not actually due to chance and serve to provide powerful insight, direction and guidance.” — Arts of Thought
Carl Jung was often sharing moments of synchronicity. A classic story of Jung describes a highly educated female patient who was stuck in her rational thinking. However, she dreamt of an expensive piece of jewelry, a golden scarab. Later, while in a session with Jung, and after sharing her dream, Jung noticed something tapping at the window. He gets up to see what it is, and low and behold, there’s a rare golden scarab beetle. Presenting this beetle to his patient was a synchronistic moment that was utterly mind-blowing to Jung’s patient.
Our own synchronistic moments are equally as important because they are reassuring. For instance, the other day, I wrote a Facebook post about needing to dive into my rabbit hole and burrow. I really needed a few days offline. That very night I dreamt of discovering multiple rabbit burrows filled with baby bunnies!
Nevertheless, back to the quote that came to my attention, it felt so tailored to my needs, I still get chill bumps.
I was scrolling my newsfeed, doing what I do best -- procrastinating and getting further into a tizzy, when I stopped and read these words several times. It was more than coincidental. This is yet another example of the magic of synchronicity.
“Get into the habit of asking yourself honestly, “Does this support the life I am trying to create?” If not, release it.” –Sylvester McNutt III
Carolyn Riker is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in private practice. She is also an author of three books. Her most recent book is "My Dear, Love Hasn't Forgotten You."