Mar 29, 2017 02:36PM
Take care of you: Holding emotional boundaries
By Barton Goldsmith
The trick is to maintain balance because there is an internal cost to expending too much emotional energy. This holds true for anyone who is working or raising a family.
Really good performers know that giving just a little more (to clients, coworkers or the ones they love) can yield many benefits. The great ones know that if you give your all, the results will be stellar. However, if you don't take care of yourself in the process, you can burn out or become resentful.
This holds true for all relationships. It's important to maintain a good balance between caring for others and caring for yourself. This means that if you are a giver by nature, you have to remember to put on your own oxygen mask first. I find that sometimes I do have to step away from the phone (or lock it in the safe), so I can take care of myself and decompress.
If you are a caring person, you may find that you give too much. If this happens, then what can you do about it? First, look at why it is happening at this moment. This is important because if you can see how you got into this position, you may be able to avoid it in the future.
Next, get out your personal decompression plan (PDP) and remind yourself what works for you. Don't have a PDP or don't know what one is? Allow me to help. First, write down things that help you find emotional balance, such as hugging the dog, doing the dishes, taking a walk or playing with the kids. Making a list of these emotionally healing acts simply helps you take advantage of what you already have but may have forgotten about because you are too busy taking care of those around you.
Probably your best tool is self-awareness. We may not realize we are feeling a little over the top until someone else notices that we're acting differently and asks, "Is everything OK?" It's important to really check in with ourselves. These days, I'm better at asking myself the same question and being honest with what's really going on for me.
Holding good emotional boundaries is as much about checking in with yourself as it is about learning to stand firm with other people. Awareness is key, and acting sooner rather than later will help you recover more quickly.
We all need to recharge from time to time. It's important, and vacations should be sacred. Without strong boundaries and self-care, you can't care for anyone or anything else.
Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.” Follow him on Twitter at @BartonGoldsmith .
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