As I was spending some time online the other day reading about various aspects of depression and anxiety, I took a break to check my GReader and what did I see but Janice at 5 Minutes for Mom talking about her own experience with those issues. It’s amazing how many people struggle with some form of these disorders, myself included.
For those who commented on yesterday’s post about taking Michael to a psychologist, I am going to follow up on it soon, but in the meantime I wanted to talk a bit about a recent therapy session of my own. I have been seeing this particular therapist for several months, but hadn’t been in for a few weeks, mainly due to the busyness of the holidays.
When he asked how things were going, I had plenty of things I could talk to him about that either had already happened or that I was anticipating coming up in the near future. But I have been feeling a bit like a hamster on a wheel and afraid that, if I can’t keep going fast enough, there will be a horrible crash at some point. I really needed more than to talk through one or two specific situations.
So I asked him if he could tell me what I needed to do to get to the point where my moods would not be so driven by circumstances and other people’s words and actions, where I could just be me and have control over myself, even when things may be out of control.
His response was fairly simple — Know your limits, and accept them.
As he put it, some people don’t know what their limits are and so they just keep taking on whatever comes their way without even realizing that it is more than they should expect from themselves. The first step is to become aware of your own limitations in terms of energy, time, resources and ability.
That’s hard enough, but then comes the even trickier part – accepting your limits.
Some people can see their limits but refuse to accept them. So they will keep shouldering more commitments and responsibilities even though they know it will add too much stress to their lives. It’s not enough to know your limits, you have to accept them – even when that means becoming your own advocate with others who want you to perform for them.
That was a surprisingly new concept for me, that I need to advocate for myself just as much as I advocate for Michael.
It really comes down to examining each thing that comes your way and identifying what control you have over it and whose responsibility it is. If it’s someone else’s responsibility, all you can do is pass it on to them and let it go. If it’s your responsibility, you need to decide if it’s within your limits to take care of right now. If that’s not possible, the next step is to figure out when you could do it or get someone else to handle it.
I’m just starting to think through all of this, so I’m probably not repeating it exactly right or in a very eloquent manner, but I can definitely see how it gives me the control that has been so easily given away to other people and circumstances in my life.
What do you think about his answer? Do you know your limits? Have you accepted them?