Are you feeling tired, scattered and burned out from trying to do so much?This New Years, let's approach our goals a little differently. It's time to weed out the sources of exhaustion in our lives. It's time to replace these draining influences with life-giving habits.It's time to move from exhaustion to being present for your life. From just getting by to thriving. It's time to really show up for your life. Will you join me?
Sources of Exhaustion
- Reacting to others' expectations rather than living out of your own desires and goals
- Unreasonable expectations for yourself
- Fear of disappointing others
- Over-identification with an ideal version of yourself (as productive, accomplished, helpful, generous, successful, strong, authentic, capable, wise, fun, loyal, or fill in the blank)
- Not feeling allowed to set boundaries or say no
- Unhealed wounds
- Continued involvement in toxic relationships
- Unresolved sorrow, un-grieved losses
- Information overload
- Trying to push through until you can't push anymore
(Sources of Exhaustion adapted from Invitation to Retreat by Ruth Haley Barton)
Do any of these resonate with you? Take time to evaluate which of these sources of exhaustion ring true for you. Identify any others that aren't listed (and please share them with me!). Prioritize which ones you want to tackle first. Now that you've identified the areas you want to work on, we can identify a way to address each one.
How to foster the life you want
Here is a summary of some of the ways you can find more freedom, space, and energy in your life. I've written them in a simple, straightforward way, but I realize that accomplishing them is a process. I'll be writing a series on these throughout the New Year to help you walk through them more in-depth.
- Learn to recalibrate the compass for your life from others' expectations and reactions to what is personally life-giving to you. (Identify your personal goals and desires. What makes you light up? When do you feel most alive? Learn how to be a personal coach to yourself. Learn to act instead of react.)
- Set reasonable expectations for yourself. Learn the freedom of being human and having needs and limitations just like everyone else. Learn patterns of rest, play, and work. Break up with the bully in your head that tells you it's never enough. If that inner critic is communicating through the tyranny of "shoulds and oughts," you can find some initial steps to take back your power here.
- Learn to believe that you're okay the way you are. Your worth is not dependent on others' reactions to you. Because this is such a deep belief, you may need some support from a therapist and the therapeutic tool EMDR to fully change this one. But start with changing your thoughts about it. Remind yourself of your worth.
- Let go of your idealized version of yourself. Being real is much, much better than being the perfect version you want to be. Being known and valued for who you are is worth the vulnerability. The Enneagram is a helpful tool for identifying your idealized self so that you can find balance and freedom in embracing your real self. I am offering an 8-week Enneagram growth group to help with this process, starting March 2020. Contact me to sign up.
- Learn how to set boundaries. Start by saying "I'll have to think about that" instead of jumping into commitments. Learn what hooks you into giving in so you can resist the compulsion to give in. A good place to start is my worksheet on making assertiveness a reality in your life. Join my assertiveness group to have support and guidance as you practice gaining personal autonomy.
- Heal from the past. Part of the pain of unhealed wounds is the effort it takes to avoid them, pretend they don't exist, numb yourself, keep them locked away in a box, or stuff them down. Find a therapist who is committed to keeping you in a window you can tolerate when processing instead of flooding you. My clients have expressed amazement at how light they feel after letting go of this baggage.
- Recognize and ditch toxic relationships. If you can't get out of them entirely, learn how to neutralize their affect on you as much as possible. Individual therapy and an assertiveness group can be really helpful in making this a reality. Also check out my favorite books to deal with toxic relationships: The Covert Passive-Aggressive Narcissist and Recovering from Emotionally Immature Parents: Practical Tools to Establish Boundaries & Reclaim Emotional Autonomy.
- As Amanda Cook says, "we can only heal what we're willing to feel." Avoidance, stuffing down emotions, and other ways we cope with overwhelming circumstances and losses only works for so long before it begins back-firing on you. You may need some space in your life and a support system to work through the pain, but that is the only way to heal. I want you to know that feeling does not mean being flooded and overwhelmed. I will be writing more about healing from your window of tolerance soon, so stay tuned.
- We are human beings. Our society encourages us to be human consumers - more things, more information, more, more, more. We have to create rhythms in our lives that make space for contemplation and just being. That is how we live deeper instead of faster. I love how Ruth Haley Barton teaches about healing rhythms that create space. Her teachings about Sources of Exhaustion were the catalyst for this article. (Note: Ruth Haley Barton is a Christian and mentions things related to spiritual growth.)
- At some point, willpower fails us because we keep trying in the same way. One of my favorite ways to find new ways of seeing and doing things is the Enneagram. We all have a particular lens for seeing the world. The Enneagram helps us step back and get perspective so that when we do try again, we can flow instead of push our way through the problem. I will be writing more about the Enneagram and starting an Enneagram growth group March 2020, so stay tuned! Let go of your idealized version of yourself. Being real is much, much better than being the perfect version you want to be. Being known and valued for who you are is worth the vulnerability. The Enneagram is a helpful tool for identifying your idealized self so that you can find balance and freedom in embracing your real self. I am offering an 8-week Enneagram growth group to help with this process, starting March 2020. Contact me to sign up.
I would love to help you evaluate your sources of exhaustion and find better patterns for yourself. It's time to give yourself the chance to rest and heal. It's time to find balance. Email me if you'd like someone to walk alongside you on this journey.