11 May 2020
Ignoring our needs and not acknowledging our limits can cause unhappiness.
Lisa (not her real name), told me in her last session ‘I should be glad I can spend more time with my five year old son but instead I feel exhausted and irritable all the time. I am such a terrible mother!’ Working from home and home-schooling in not easy, while entertaining a 5-year-old 7 days a week is enough to drive anyone around the bend!
Lisa was comparing what she is doing (the reality) with what she ‘should’ be doing (the ideal) which is what tv, magazines etc are telling us to do … ‘have fun with your family, do the things you never had the time to do before, start a new hobby’. When there is a big discrepancy between what we are doing and what we should be doing it can cause sadness, guilt, anger and unhappiness.
I asked Lisa what her needs (the things that are important for her) are and she answered ‘I want to be a good mother’ and ‘I also want to do well in my job’ and….(reluctantly) ‘I need some time for myself.’ Understanding what is important for and how much of this is possible right now given the various limitations, is essential to our wellbeing. Recognising our limits, also means listening to our emotions (which are there to inform us about ourselves and the world around us) and be kind to yourself (for the things we like but we can’t do/have right now) because we are human. And, as humans we have limited resources in terms of time, skills, money, creativity, etc . Therefore, recognising our needs and being able to say ‘this is how much I can do for this today’ is very important. It comes without saying that communicating our needs/limits to others (when possible!) will improve our relationships.
For instance, Lisa highlighted that she can tell her husband that it was too much for her to look after her son for ten hours a day while trying to work. She suggested to do ‘shifts’ with her husband to look after their son and, most of all, to have some ‘me time’ to be able to recharge herself.
The same principle applies to everyone, because when we recognise other people’s needs and limits we can all improve our relationships.
Photo by Pixabay, Pexels