For today’s story, you need to know 3 things:
- Diane, 59-years-old, bullies her sister Liz every day.
- Their mom, 92, suffers with dementia & serious physical disabilities.
- Liz is an over-giver.
Liz constantly replays the interactions with her sister in her mind.
She doesn’t sleep well. And, she worries about her mom all the time.
Liz told me, Diane demands that I be available to help Mom at all hours. She takes off whenever she needs to. But if I need a break, she is so mean to me!
Exhausted, she hasn’t spent any time with her husband or her hobby in well over 3 months. Her family is in crisis, and she hates that she has nothing left to give.
She resents the resentment building inside her. Her self-loathing is building.
I asked, “What would happen if you told Diane ‘no’?”
Liz wouldn’t consider it. Oh, no. She would be SO pissed. She is SO angry & MEAN.
I asked, “What’s the worst-case scenario for you?”
That’s she’s mean to me and I feel like shit.
“But you already feel like shit. You said you feel like a ‘raggedy piece of shit’. Yes?”
“And she’s already mean to you, right? Whatever you do. She’s mean?”
“So…it’s already come true. You’re living your worst-case scenario on a daily basis. You can’t please her no matter what. You. Feel. Like. Shit.”
Oh, my god. Yes. I feel like shit. I can’t make her happy.
“So it can’t get worse than this, right? What’s one thing you can do today to stop feeling like shit? To get some air for yourself?”
I can say yes to myself. No matter what I do, she’s mean & angry anyway. I might as well let her be pissed off and get something for myself.
And there it was. When Liz realized her people-pleasing was not only failing to please anyone, she also realized that it was slowly killing her.
People like Liz who give until it (literally, sometimes) hurts are called Obligers.
Do you love to help others? Make people feel good? Strive to serve?
All you want is to be able to give more.
I know you’d tell me, “The worst part of being burned out is that I have nothing left to give.”
Of course, you don’t! You’ve reached your breaking point.
For you, there is nothing worse than not being able to help others.
But you feel fried & crispy. Ain’t nothin’ left for nobody, no how.
You are just too wrung out to oblige.
If you’re at your own version of the Worst-Case Scenario, this will help:
Do 2 things right away:
- Acknowledge where you are without judgment. No unkindnesses to yourself! No analyzing how you got here! Just see yourself as an over-giver who is tapped out.
- Decide how you can get some air asap! Start small. Just a little. Say yes to yourself. Take that nap. Turn down that invitation. Go for a walk. Take a shower.
Merely acknowledging and deciding is where you begin. It frees your brain up from the self-judgment that is zapping you right now.
My clients are almost always Obligers, over-givers. They need support to see that they are tapped out.
They don’t understand why they can’t give anymore.
It hurts them deeply.
My job is to help my Obligers see that people take from them because they always say yes.
Does this sound like you?
You always show up. You are super reliable. You. Are. Amazing.
It’s what makes you Awesome – yes, with a capital A. Let’s get you back to Awesome.
Step 1 is to simply Acknowledge and Decide.
Step 2 is harder: it’s to retrain those who have come to rely on your “Hell Yes! I can help!” battle cry.
Right now, you’re too wrung out to help anyone else. Help yourself.
Next week, I’ll dive into how to retrain others – and help YOU get your groove back, so you can get back to doing what you love: helping other people.
If you need support because you’re burned out – shoot me a message. And turn on post notifications this week on my Facebook page! I’m addressing this problem head on this week!