Hi! I’m Ashley. And I’m a recovering people pleaser.
For the vast majority of my life I have always cared a lot about what others thought of me. I have always striven to do my best in all situations. I was and am a hard worker. I worked hard to uphold the expectations I placed on myself, while fulfilling the perceived expectations others had of me. I wanted, no needed, others to see me as polished and perfect. I needed to see myself through the same lens. Other people’s opinions colored much of how I saw myself and in turn effected my actions. If I thought someone was disappointed in me? Oh forget it! I would be beside myself until I could make up whatever I had done to upset them. Of note here: this “disappointment” could be real or imagined. I didn’t have to actually know I had let someone down. If I didn’t live up to the expectation I had set for myself, I had somehow let someone else down. Does this ring true for anyone else?
Where my people pleasers at? Where are the overachievers? The perfectionists? The do-or-diers?
How hard were you working before you got sick? Did you adjust things after you began experiencing symptoms? Are you still working too hard? Are you slave driving yourself into the ground?
Maybe you were the Pinterest perfect mama throwing elaborately beautiful birthday parties. Or the class mom, the PTA president, the go-to-volunteer for any and all of your child’s extracurricular needs. Maybe you have always been the reliable friend, the first to offer the shirt off you back for a girlfriend in need. You were the friend to call at all hours of the night to discuss a bad day or a confusing relationship. You had a listening ear and solid advice at the ready. Were you the employee your boss could count on when a tough or timely situation arose? The one your co-workers came to when they had a question or help with a project. Is this still you?
The slowdown that become necessary, especially in the beginning of learning to navigate life with autoimmune disease, is hard to accept. You don’t want to be sick. You don’t want to be different. You don’t want to be forced to live a life altered from the one you had planned. I know I didn’t.
When autoimmune disease strikes your previous life takes a backseat. Your days become filled with doctor’s appointments, trips to get this or that test done, meal planning, supplement and medicine scheduling. These new tasks getting chunked onto the full schedule you were already precariously juggling. For those of us who consider ourselves proud card carrying members of the Perfectionist Club, the overwhelm comes quickly. You still have to work. You still have to be a mom. You still have to show up for your family, your friends… your life.
February is a month to celebrate love and kindness. My question to you is are you showing yourself the same love and kindness you are giving to others?
In what ways are you overextending yourself? Are you still trying to live life B.A. (Before Autoimmune)? Do you have unrealistic expectations of yourself? Do you give yourself the same grace you give to others?
Do you say yes to social gatherings you would rather not attend? Afraid of disappointing the host or family and friends that will be there? When the day comes, do you actually feel well enough to go? Or do you drag yourself there because you “have to”? Are you still volunteering hours you don’t have? Energy already spent on simply surviving? Are you still taking on tasks you desperately need to delegate to others? Are you taking on too many things that you actually have little to no responsibility for?
How are you taking care of you self? Self-care is a word that gets tossed around a lot these days. Self-care evokes images of trips to the nail salon, massages and luxurious candle lit baths. These are awesome ways to treat yourself and they are warranted and needed at times, however, they aren’t always the most convenient or practical.
Self-care means doing anything that helps you to take a step back so you can breathe.
Self-care can be as simple as taking your full lunch break to eat your lunch away from your desk, rather that shovel your food down as you simultaneously answer emails. Self-care is listening to a podcast or an audiobook you’re dying to read while driving to your next destination. Self-care is going for the walk, meeting your friend for coffee, getting a babysitter so you can go shopping solo, reading the book, writing in the journal or taking fifteen minutes to do whatever the heck it is YOU want to do.
Self-care is also learning to say, “No.” Saying no is imperative to retaining your sanity. Saying no is okay! Think about it this way, every yes you say to someone else’s agenda is a no to your own. I’m not sure who said that first, but I got it from Dave Hollis (author and “Let’s Gooooo!” expert) and it has stuck with me. Stop giving yourself over to every single request of you. You don’t have to do it all. You can still be a good wife, a good girlfriend, a good mama, a good employee and a good person while establishing healthy boundaries for yourself. Thinking you have to do it all may be taxing you more than you even realize. If saying yes fills you with dread, the answer should have been no. I love the quote from author and motivational speaker Jen Hatmaker, who so eloquently says, “If it’s not a HELL YES, then it’s a no!”
You have to start saying yes to yourself. You have to start showing yourself the love and kindness and grace you would instantly shower upon anyone else you care for. Heck you probably extend more consideration towards a perfect stranger than you do yourself! That is crazy! If you would not expect someone else to do it perfectly, stop demanding the zero mistakes mentality from yourself.
It’s okay to not be everything to everyone. The reality is you can’t. The sooner you realize giving kindness to yourself affords you more to give others, the sooner you say goodbye to the unnecessary guilt burdening your heart.
What are doing today to show yourself kindness?
*DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor or health care professional. I am not licensed, nor qualified, to give medical or nutritional advice. My posts are not meant to diagnose or treat. They are meant to be informative. I am sharing my experience as someone who has suffered with and continues to live with autoimmune disease. Please consult with a doctor, nutritionist or medical professional for any medical needs and/or questions.*