Fixing Your Sinking Ship

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How do you know you’ve reached your limit?

I suspect it looks a little something like bawling hysterically and screaming at the sky because the cat stepped on your coffee – that was fully sealed. Not that I would know, from personal experience or anything.

While a comment like that certainly piques interest and begs for more elaboration, the reality is that it doesn’t matter and isn’t worth rehashing, since I’ve buried it. Or, at least I hope I have. (I suppose we’ll find out the next minor catastrophe.)

It’s often about this time in the week that I can tell you exactly how things have gone the past days in the department of self-care. You’d think someone who professionally directs others to care for themselves would be a bit better at doing it herself – but the fact that it’s so difficult shows the value in having that accountability and direction.

The picture of a life boat comes to mind. As moms, we take on and take on and take on so many things, and that boat must be strong and secure and in great working order so it can support what’s inside. When a life boat has holes and rot and a broken motor, everyone’s in big trouble. The boat will, eventually, sink. A simple Google search will yield plenty of articles and photos of just this scenario happening in real time.

Many of us are sitting in the middle of the ocean with a beaten and battered boat that’s weighed down with the stresses, messes and fiascos of life. Maybe you’re nowhere near a port to unload and repair.

The key to any kind of success is to ask yourself what CAN you do?

  1. Throw a five-minute pity party. Things rarely turn out like we envisioned. It’s why I often say expectations is joy’s biggest enemy. Missed expectations are the root of anger, so it’s important to deal with things in a healthy way. Don't sit and replay it over and over, but don't stuff it, either. Set a timer for five minutes and let it all out. (Writing it down may be best so that you don’t involve too many people.) When the timer goes off, move on. Leave it behind you and look forward with the expectation that you’ll do the best you can.

  2. Bail out. Maybe you have a bucket in your sinking ship. Maybe you just need to cup your hands together and make do. However you do it, things have to go. Get the water, cargo and other things out that are pulling you under. Say no. Pass things off. Yes, you can. And you must. Otherwise, everything is going down – including you – and it won’t get taken care of anyway. When I stop and really take stock of what’s on my plate, most of them are self-imposed stresses. Give it to someone who can take it on, or let it drop altogether. It will be okay.

  3. Patch it. Be honest with yourself here. How long can you keep going with the way things are now? I realized today that some major things have to change, mostly resting on an honest evaluation on #2. I take on way too much, period. When it comes to fixing the issues, take on one at a time. Try to fix it all and you’ll wind up overwhelmed. Find the biggest holes and do what you can to fix them. Maybe it’s nutrition – pick one area. Maybe it’s exercise – add one thing. Maybe it’s taking time for yourself to just sit quietly and regroup. Do that. There’s no right or wrong way to go about fixing things, as long as you’re fixing them. If you need help, get it. Your boat will do you no good if it’s at the bottom of the ocean.

For me, weeks like this are more in the department of a freak storm paired with a tsunami. You just can’t plan for everything, and sometimes you must do what you can to survive.

What I can assure you is that we wouldn’t be floating at all if it weren’t for the habits and practices I’ve put in place like planning meals, knowing exactly how to train for my immediate needs, and how to refresh – the equivalent of having a patch kit, life vests and one of those flare kits to signal for help.

Maybe you already have those, but just needed the reminder that you do. Maybe you need help bailing the water out and fixing the holes, then getting better prepared for the next wave. Whatever it is, I hope these tips help you get unstuck. Reach out to friends, loved ones – or even me! – if you need help formulating a plan and following through on it.  

But I’ll answer those emails later – we’re off to the beach :)



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