I love helping, I love putting a smile on someone’s face, I love being busy. So it can be difficult to know when I’ve crossed a line from being helpful, to just being overloaded. It’s a slow burn – like the cruel analogy of putting a frog into cold water and slowly raising the temperature – I don’t even realise what’s happening until I’ve gone way over the boiling point.
And then there’s the guilt. And regret. The feeling I get when I haven’t done “enough” – where there’s more I could have done , whether it’s to have improved a situation or to have prevented a disaster, there’s always something else I should do, or should have done when I look back. I’m responsible. It’s on me.
But why is it entirely on me? I can (and should) delegate more. Share the load. But then I’m back to the guilt. Asking other people to do things that I feel a (misguided) sense of responsibility for can feel like I’m shirking my duties, even when I know I am at maximum capacity and if I were to take it on I just wouldn’t do it justice.
And this is why I need to set out clear boundaries. To give myself permission to say “this is what is ok”, and “this is what is not”. This not only gives me a chance to breathe, it also gives other people a better idea of what is expected of them. It’s not easy to do, and I’m experiencing the terror that rises in me when I try to enforce them, but every time I do I feel a little more comfortable with it. People respond well too, which gives me more confidence to keep doing it.
Lindsay Holmes, writing for the Huffington Post, shares 10 Great Things That Happen When You Set Boundaries, helping us both at home and at work.
Does anyone else struggle with this? How do you manage it?