The past month and a half has been A LOT for me.
It started with us hosting a gender reveal party, then we drove to Upstate NY and attended one of my husband’s best friend’s weddings. This was immediately followed by my husband running a marathon on his birthday, throwing him a party, and hosting some of his out of town family members. Immediately following this, my 102 year old Cuban grandmother passed away, and only a few days later we made yet another trek amidst horrendous traffic to Upstate NY to spend Thanksgiving with my in-laws. Then my computer broke down (I’m writing this on my husband’s computer as we speak), and my husband’s car broke down over an hour away only a few days later.
Some of what made this a lot was just life, life-ing, as it will always do.
And some of what made this a lot was my needs and preferences as a highly sensitive person.
As much as I love travel and being around people, large groups are something that is quite draining for me and require a lot of recovery time for me to replenish from.
Group gatherings and being with a lot of people is one of my husband’s favorite things (I mean, he is one of 10 children, so his household growing up was pretty much one large party at all times).
I knew the events of the gender reveal party, the wedding, the marathon/his birthday/and hosting family and a party at our house, as well as traveling again for Thanksgiving being so close back to back was asking a lot of myself and was going to deplete me, especially while being 6 months pregnant.
And yet, I *also* knew that all of these events were extremely important to my husband, some of which were years in the making, and that they just so happened to fall closely together in a way that neither of us could do anything about.
I had a choice to make: I could choose to honor my capacity (what I knew I had mental, physical, and emotional bandwidth for), or I could choose to do things for my husband that were important for him.
I wanted to talk about this very real life situation because it’s a scenario I hear my clients wrestling with all the time (and obviously one that I also wrestle with myself): how to honor yourself and your needs, as well as another person.
Sometimes there are no clean, easy answers to this. Sometimes you can’t find a solution that perfectly honors both your needs *and* theirs.
In the self-help, healing world, there tends to be this idea that we have to “do healing” perfectly. Our perfectionism simply gets a new avenue of expression on our healing journey: we want to heal perfectly. We want to find the perfect way to honor our needs, 100% of the time (while also honoring others).
Life is far more complex, layered, and nuanced than this, and imposing this perfectionistic standard to our healing journey is stunting more than it is healing.
I *consciously* and strategically chose to set aside my own needs and preferences for this period of time (knowing that it would override my capacity), and prioritize my husband’s needs and desires for these events that were very important to him.
*Consciously* is the key, here. I chose this.
Issues primarily arise when we unconsciously and habitually carry out a relational pattern (such as consistently prioritizing others needs over our own). This results in us ending up consistently burnt-out, but unable to replenish ourselves because these patterns are ingrained and reflexive.
Instead of clinging to a perfectionistic need to honor yourself and your needs 100% of the time, wrestling to figure out how to do that in all life’s scenarios, only increasing your stress, I’m much more interested in your ability to consciously choose, knowing that if you choose to override your capacity for a good reason for a time, that you also have the ability to bring yourself back to replenishment and your center.
Sometimes I’ll be able to find a way to honor both my needs and yours.
Sometimes I will consciously choose to honor myself, even if that means I disappoint you.
And sometimes, I consciously choose to set my needs aside, and prioritize yours.
This is the dance of relationship.
There is no perfect balance to strive for, only your own conscious remembering of yourself and your choice.
Being consciously aware of our relationship patterns, being aware of our current capacity (what we have mental, emotional, physical, and relational bandwidth for), and then *consciously choosing* what we are going to prioritize, knowing that we have the tools to replenish ourselves and bring ourselves back to center, releases any need for perfection in our healing journey of reclaiming our needs.
Let’s use the real-life scenario that I have described of my past month or so to illustrate what this conscious choosing looks like while bringing myself back to center:
- Using my own internal attunement to realize that doing all these events with my husband would deplete my capacity
- Consciously choosing to override my capacity for a period of time, as I knew these events were important to my husband (and not coming from a place of habitual relational patterns or forgetting myself)
- Tending to myself and my capacity throughout the events:
- Choosing to socialize with those I was most comfortable with at the birthday party
- Removing myself from over stimulating parts of the house when needed and finding a quiet space
- Taking time to myself and visiting a cute coffee shop to work while staying with my in-laws
- Taking time to myself to read and do grounding rituals that replenished and nourished me
- Taking time to be in nature as I could, going on walks, and moving my body
- Talking to friends and family members while away
- Consciously doing things to bring myself back to center and replenish after these events ended
- Saying no to things for a period of time while I recoup my energy
- Spending more time alone to replenish
- Performing Mindful Awareness practices + Somatic practices that nourish me
- Performing a pleasure practice to help me tune in more to the goodness that’s already here and available
- Anchoring into grounding rituals
Perfection isn’t necessary. I get to allow myself to live in the complexity of life, welcome the nuance, allow for the ebb and flow of your needs, mine, and ours, drift off my center at times, and trust that I know how to find my way back when I do.
I don’t know about you, but I find this to be a much more easeful, rich, nourishing (and realistic!) way to live my life, and it’s the only thing I’m available for anymore.
Reflection Questions For You:
- What are my habitual patterns in relationships (no judgment, just for awareness and to facilitate more conscious choice!)
- What are the ways that I tend to forget myself in my relationships?
- What are my relational needs? (Think about intimate partnerships, friends, family, professional relationships, etc.)
- How do you know what your capacity is? (Your mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, relational bandwidth) What does low capacity feel like in your body? What does it feel like when you are at high capacity in your body?
- What practices, rituals, and ways of nourishing yourself allow you to come back to center?
- How do you know if you choosing to override your capacity has become reflexive + habitual (vs something you are consciously choosing for a period of time)?
- Is there a way to honor you and them simultaneously? If not, when do you choose to “give”, and when do you know you need to stay firm and honor your own needs, even if that disappoints the other?
I’d love to hear you alls experiences with this. Comment and let me know. I always love hearing from you!