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Are You Honoring Your Limits?
How are you doing at honoring your limits? I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit how much I still struggle in this area of my life. Boundaries and self-care are areas where I have helped hundreds of people through coaching, teaching, and facilitation, yet they are my perennial stumbling blocks. Pretending that I have it all together in this area would be a lie to myself and to you, and I’m not going to do that. What I can say, though, is that I am a work in progress in these areas — well, in all areas ;-) — and I know I have made tremendous progress over the last decade in undoing well-worn patterns and re-writing stories that for so long kept me trapped in cycles of push to burnout. I have been challenged over and over again the last three-and-a-half months with honoring my limits; more so than I have been challenged in quite some time. I know there have been a few specific reasons why I have more recently struggled to honor my limits, especially as they relate to work:
1. When the lockdowns first started here in the States we were in overdrive in PF, doing our best to adjust to the new realities we were faced with. As I shared before, our product sales all but stopped at the beginning of COVID, we were just about to launch two new offerings that we had to put on hold, and we were adjusting day to day for what our clients — many of them also small business owners, or non-profits, or healthcare organizations — were needing to survive and thrive through unprecedented changes.
There were, understandably, a lot of long days and work on the weekends that happened in the early days after COVID and I struggled with letting go at the end of the day or week because I knew how much was at stake. And I always felt behind.
When I go into one of these burn periods I very quickly go back to the old patterns from my prior career, where overwork was my norm. Those well-worn paths that I traveled for decades become my new norm very quickly and it’s been hard to right myself.
2. My primary way of “stopping work for the day” had me leave my home office and go to my yoga studio to practice or to the gym to work out. Since both places were closed, that was no longer a default I could rely on.
3. My work changed in some ways. I began to do more creative work, especially writing, but I was also still trying to do everything else I had been doing before. For me, writing is typically deep work that takes a lot of emotional and mental energy.
4. Since COVID began, I have been more tired as the norm. All the changes in my life, as well as the collective energy in the world, especially since the uprisings started in May, have had an impact on my energy. I still sometimes want to work as if or behave as if there isn’t an extra drain on my energy — and that’s just not my current reality.
I have experienced other challenges lately with honoring my limits, particularly around work. But I wanted to share these examples from my own experience with you, as I imagine that you have some of the same challenges, as well as others that are unique to you. Do you see yourself in any of these examples? Might you have been in overdrive in your job or business — or perhaps you are still there? Might you have lost your defaults that got you away from work at the end of the day? Might your work have changed in a significant way since COVID started? Might your energetic capacity just be less right now because... well, need I say more than COVID and uprisings? I have had so many moments in the past few months that I am just not proud of, especially as it relates to how I have honored my limits and taken care of myself. I’m not going to make things worse by beating myself up for my challenges, and I hope that you won’t either. I hope that you can see your way to empathy and grace and compassion for yourself as you do your best to navigate this new world. Your limits may look very different now than they did in February or even than they did last week. Honor that. So, how are you doing at honoring your limits? Are there places where you might be able to be kinder and gentler with yourself and not push so hard? Will you?