Is this the refrain of our age? Not enough time. Too much to do. So many commitments and responsibilities.
It can seem an impossible conundrum as your life moves on. You have family ties and friendships to maintain, work and or personal interests, households to run. How can it ever be possible to fit it all in?
Now this article isn’t about time management techniques as such, though that can obviously help in many practical ways. It’s about your relationship with yourself and your life and how you create space in it for your own needs.
If making time for yourself is a struggle, it’s asking you to consider what overt and covert promises you make that reduce or remove your space to be you.
So, if time is always feeling in short measure, here are 7 questions to ask yourself:
What do I do that I absolutely can’t let go of ( you might have to ask yourself this a few times to get to the truth)?
What space is there in my life for the things that affirm me and give me joy?
Where do I sell out or give up on myself by always saying yes? To what extent is this tolerable for me?
Where do I give more than I receive and is that ok?
How do I feed and sustain my longings in my busy life?
When are the times that I prioritise others over myself, with a feeling of resentment or suppressed anger?
Who am I consciously or unconsciously trying to pacify or please in my life and why?
These questions are asking about the roots of your feeling of time poverty. Sometimes you end up slipping into beliefs and behaviours which feel rigid and unbreakable. Every sacrifice or refusal to say no, which eats into your time more, builds a deeper layer of resentment.
The unintended consequences of not making time
Unvoiced, or unacted upon, there is every chance that anxiety and then depression breed on this diet of depression. They can be the unintended consequences of being nice, not saying no, trying to please all of the people all of the time.
How do you find your way out of this place? The questions above are a great starting point. With more awareness you can start to question your choices.
But the work to shift things goes deeper than this. If you grew up in an environment where ‘being good’ or ‘trying hard’ or ‘doing well’ were rewarded with affirmation and ‘being selfish’ or ‘putting yourself first’ were frowned upon, then you might find it hard to switch off the critical voice that can cajole or shame you when you don’t ‘shape up.’
By the way, I’m not saying that pure egotism or selfishness at the expense of others is ok either. However, the invitation here is to consider how much your current way of being serves you. If it brings you joy and satisfaction, there’s no need to change, right?
My guess, though, is that if you’re struggling with time for some of the reasons I’ve explored here, it’s not the joy of selflessness that drives you.
How free do you feel?
At the heart of the issue is the question of personal freedom. If you feel free to bestow your time on whom or whatever you wish, you can make your choices freely. But if you feel held to ransom by a part of yourself that can’t bear to disappoint or let others down, it sounds like it might be time to renegotiate the terms and conditions of your contract with yourself.
Working with a counsellor, you can develop a greater awareness of these different pulls with in you and to develop a sense of your deeper needs. Allowing them free expression, ensuring the that you can start to bring the same kind attention to yourself that you bestow on others build the foundations of a freer way of being. And that’s one of the main goals of counselling: to be free to be yourself.
If you’re struggling with pleasing others or making time for yourself…
Why not get in touch for a free initial chat on the phone? I offer counselling in Totnes and Torquay to help you through anxiety and depression, and developing a kindness towards yourself.
You can call or text me on 07443 640556 or email me here.
Get more tips and ideas for managing everyday stresses and worries
Pop your email in the box below and you’ll get my eBook for free: Your Wellbeing in Nature Toolkit – 15 ecotherapy exercises to support you with anxiety and depression.