Yes (I Mean No)
Have you ever said Yes when you meant No? Have you ever committed to a project then later (usually when you were in the depths of it) realized you really don't want to be doing this? What is in our wiring that causes us to cross our wisdom-boundaries, our values or priorities, and say yes when we truly mean no?
Over-commitment is common among those awakened humans who are stepping up into their calling. Our culture has taught us that to be of value we must do whatever others ask of us, immediately, perfectly and with a smile. Some over-commit to receive sympathy or to serve their beliefs of "victim." The good news is that more of us are retraining ourselves to respect our balance and say no; however it isn't common. I attended a local meeting recently and was struck by the number of additional committees and volunteer groups attendees had filled their lives with. They spoke about their fatigue and their inability to fit in quality alone time, exercise or leisure. It showed in their worn faces and bodies.
When we over-commit, we sacrifice our balance and integrity. We lie to ourselves about what is important. That pattern (from childhood no doubt) covers the truth of what truly is right for us - our passion and our calling. That habit may come from the belief that if others see how hard we work, how much we do and how much we sacrifice, they will value us. The fact is, they may value us so much they ask us to do even more until there is nothing left of us to give.
There is another option. There are ways to be of value without experiencing the overwhelm or stress of over-involvement. Look at the children. They are valuable - simply because they exist. So are you!
Five Steps to Finding Your Boundary
To make any change, you must first evaluate your current situation. As simple as the following tool is, most won't attempt it. Notice if you have resistance or judgment when you read this. Notice if you “just don’t have time” or think “this is silly.”
(1) Make a written list of all of your commitments including pet care, partner, friends, volunteer projects, housekeeping...all of it.
(2) Get comfortable, close your eyes and imagine one of the commitments on your list. Reflect on your participation in it, fully feeeel what it is like to participate in this.
(3) Quickly, without analyzing, rate it 0-10 with 10 being most enjoyable. Take your time and be honest.
(4) Continue with a couple more items. It isn't necessary to complete the entire list in one sitting. (You might be sitting there for hours!)
(5) Put what you have completed away and return to it in three days. Review your ratings and adjust the numbers if necessary.
Any commitment that is rated 6 or above is within your wisdom-boundary. It feeeeds you and it feeeels good to do. It's a wise addition to your life. Zero-5 just isn't enough.
Now you have more information to identify your truth, respect yourself and express your priorities. The next step is to actually believe what you've discovered and verbally express your new truth. This may be as simple as "Oops. I over-committed here. We need to figure out a way to better distribute the work load." "Thanks for the invitation, but right now my plate is full." Or simply, "No thank you."
If you don't respect your truth, others won't respect you. To fully step into that Healer, Teacher, Leader role you came here to accomplish during this amazing Shift of Consciousness - your very first commitment must be to YOU.
Trying vs Committing
One of our Level 2 students is a single mom with three kids, an irregular job situation, and friends and clients who frequently demand her attention. When I asked Jill if she had completed the homework that included sitting down to reach a quiet inner calm, she answered, "Jim - I'm trying." She then told me she was committed to reaching her goals of inner peace and business success, and she knew she must maintain a balanced calm to do so. She also explained why it just wasn't possible, how difficult it was for her and how she just couldn't do it "right."
We are always committed to something. There is never, ever a time when we aren't committed. Even when we are lying on the sofa watching a movie, we are actually doing something and committed to it. Perhaps we are committed to physical rest and rejuvenation, or perhaps we are committed to our failure. What I mean by that is behind every action or inaction there is a commitment to an Unconscious Desire (UD).
Consider this: You have an important interview with someone who could, if all goes well, boost your career and your finances. You've scheduled the appointment for Monday morning at 9am so you could have the weekend to prepare. "I'll focus on this when the kids don't need me this weekend." Well, this is the weekend the kids have three soccer matches and both of your dogs need bathing. Plus your friend (who always sympathizes with your struggles) calls to tell you her husband left her. By Sunday night you're exhausted and all you want to do is zone-out in front of TiVo. After a short night's sleep and rushing the kids to school, you sit in the car, making notes of what you'd like to achieve in the interview. Of course, the interview doesn't accomplish what you wanted, but you tried and you're worn-out to prove it.
In this scenario, what Unconscious Desire would you be committed to? You might be committed to the UD of keeping your life running in the familiar loop of personal and financial chaos. Perhaps you're committed to proving you have "too much on your plate" or that "single moms must struggle." There is incredible power in being honest with yourself and discovering why you do what you do. This knowledge is the key to living a powerful, peaceful, fulfilling life, instead if living a life of victimhood and struggle.
Redefining Your Commitments
(1) Identify an area where you've been trying for some time to produce a result but haven't yet. You see, trying leaves the back door open for escape. As long as you are trying to do it, you aren't committed to it and your UD has control over you. Even if you can't exactly verbalize the full UD, just identify the area of trying.
(2) The next step is to put a structure in place that will begin to bring you success. Here's a suggestion: rephrase your intention. In the above example, Jill began the weekend with the intention of, "I'll work when the kids don't need me." Rephrase this as, "I will work Saturday and Sunday from 7-10pm when the kids are in their rooms and from 8-11am, before their games." Another example: If you say you're committed to being on time, yet are always late, you're trying. If you're committed, you will put in place a structure to get yourself there on time. (You will find a reminder system, get there early, schedule your time differently, etc.)
You Can Do It. You really can!
Like Yoda says, “Do or do not. There is no 'try.'”