I always remind my clients to keep a balance in their life and to really fight to enforce those boundaries so that when the going get though, they have the habit of routines and firm boundaries to protect themselves.
I was reminded yesterday for myself of that very same fact.
When our oldest son was diagnosed with autism, to say that the world fell on our head would be an understatement. Outside of the obvious, trying to grasp our new world and the implications of such a diagnostic, we had to adapt. One of the first consequences of the diagnostic was that I took a severance package that my company then was offering and I focussed all my energy on supporting our son and our family. I gave it my whole!
At the time, I remember the mother of another little boy urging me to keep an activity for myself, “Keep working” she had said, “If only part time or volunteering, but keep something for yourself, you will need it”
I remember looking at her at the time, and thinking: “What is she talking about? How can I do that?” Our son was not in school anymore at that time, and I was struggling to keep everything together.
A few years later, a severe incident happened, as it is bound to happen, and our family was pulled appart. It is not the place to discussed the what, but I distinctly remember painfully wishing at the time that I had “a way out”, an outlet to focus my attention elsewhere than on my own problems and the lack of solutions that we were faced with.
At the time there were none. We could not rely on family and friends. We closed rank, pushed our head down and we kept at it…
I knew it was not the right thing to do, but it was my only option, it seemed at the time. Guilt and fear were driving me. Guilt that we could find ourselves in such a situation “under my watch” and fear for the far reaching consequences that the situation seemed to “promise”.
After a couple of months, and strong in the knowledge that I needed to get out of the spinning wheel, I remembered the lessons I had learned in the past and I decided to start my training as a coach. Suddenly a good 20 hours a week were dedicated to studying, to focus on finding ways to help others…
The situation became worse before it got better, but I did not break. I kept at it, supporting everybody around me, but I maintained at all costs my study time. I learned to say NO. For example, I could not attend this meeting or whatever because I had this class and I could not miss it. I learned to close the door on whatever problems I was faced with for the length of my classes and later on with my clients.
I had created a breathing space for myself. One where I could close the door on my family’s reality and where I could focus outwards.
It would have been easy at time to give the same answer I gave originally to this mother: ” I don’t have time, I can’t do that now, my family needs me”. But I am so glad I did not. I swayed, I bent, but I did not break. And I was able to carry my family across to the other side.
Yesterday, we received bad news, news that come when you deal with a child with handicap, no matter how hard to try, no matter how you fight, bad news always come.
I was in shock, really. I can’t even say that I knew what emotions were twirling around my head. Pain, hopelessness, helplessness, anger, fear…. I am not even sure, honestly. I was completely overwhelmed.
But I could not stop, I had a couple of clients to see yesterday. Clients who are going through their own drama and their own difficulties and they needed me to be there and present for them, helping them overcoming their own feeling of being overwhelmed, their own fears and uncertainty.
So I sat down and I tapped. Yes, I did. I did not go into the specifics of the emotions that I experienced. But I brought myself back into focus. I hesitated cancelling the meetings, thinking that I would not be able to serve my clients. But I forced myself to go, thinking that if I failed, I would offer a complementary session.
I came into the room and I closed the door behind my own life and my own problems and I gave the best I could.
Was I at my best yesterday? Personally I don’t think so. Did I help my clients? Yes, I did.
But when my meetings were over, I felt more grounded and more clear than I was before.
I was drained and I did not last very long before going to sleep. But I knew that I would not spiral down. I was in control once again.
I am still upset at the situation, and the feeling of anger and helplessness is still there very present, but I know that I can control my emotions and that my emotions will have no influence on the overall situation. I know it! Deep inside, I know it is true.
And this morning I realised that I have come a long way. A few years back, I would have hurt so much more. I would have lost my control and my mind would be spinning trying to find a solution that did not exist, heading quickly toward a burnout or a break down.
I won’t. Not, this time because I have learned the signs that I might be heading towards a burnout, and I have applied simple techniques to keep myself grounded: I have strong boundaries now and I fight for them, so that I can rely on them when needed. I rely on friends and family to gather the support that I need for myself. I use tapping as a second nature when I feel that I am emotionally out of control.
If you want to learn about the signs of a burnout and simple and efficient ways to avoid one, keep watching this page, I am about ready to publish my new E-book on the subject.