I have been carrying a lot of stress and baggage for a long time. 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year and it definitely is not getting any easier. I reached a breaking point yesterday. It resulted in a meltdown and some wake up calls that I wanted to share.
Recently, more than ever, I have realised just how important setting boundaries is to establishing your limits. I was already aware of their importance in terms of relationships of all types. Someone ignoring your boundaries is one of the first red flags that you should let them go and they shouldn’t be in your life. But, boundaries aren’t just important in terms of other people respecting them. It is also knowing when as much as you would like to help, you cannot take on more. That as much as it would be amazing if you could, you cannot always be there for others - it is not realistic. Sometimes someone else has to step in and if that doesn’t happen, it isn’t on you.
Admittedly, I have been pushing my boundaries more than I should have. Placing a lot of pressure on myself to always be available for others. So much so that I was not being there enough for myself. Lockdown has been a challenge for everyone, mental health problems are at an all-time high and a lot of people are going through very hard experiences. One of my strengths is realising when people are not feeling OK, but that comes as a double-edged sword for me. It is nice that I can connect and empathise with others, but it means that I can end up drowned in other people’s problems quite quickly. I tend to get myself too caught up in trying to help others out of difficult moments as I am able to put myself in others’ shoes. But, at the end of the day, all you can do is your best.
One of the lessons I am having to learn is that it is OK for you to not always be there for others. It is not possible and it does not make you a bad person. It isn’t you walking out of the situation. There are others that will need to take care of things and if that does not happen, you cannot take responsibility for it. You cannot be everyone’s emotional support all of the time. You need to be able to support yourself and you need emotional support too.
Over the last month and a bit, I have seen lots of posts saying that you cannot take responsibility for other people’s wellbeing- something I need to definitely better implement into practice. I was initially quite conflicted about the message of the post, as I always feel a duty to help others where I can and I know that people with mental illness or struggling with mental health really need the love and support. That, however, isn’t the message of the post. The message is that ultimately you cannot control another person’s wellbeing - that is something they have to also do for themselves. You can help them do that, but you cannot do it for them. You have your limits and there is only so much you can do.
It took me way too long to learn that it is OK for you to take a step back from a situation because it is too much for you. That you don’t have to be available for others always as it is not possible. Not being able to give someone help in a given point isn’t bad- it doesn’t make you a bad person. Everyone has their own limits and we need to respect that. Doing what you can is enough. No matter how much we would like to always be there, all we can do is the best we can within our capabilities. The fact that you are willing to do all you can for someone else already speaks volumes about who you are.
Related posts: Realising when it is time to step away | Paying attention to the impact others have on your energy | Self-care - taking a breather | Asking for help | Signs you need to take a break
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