Friday, September 24, 2010

Clear Boundaries, No Limits

{photo of my organization binder and to-do list. the planner forms come from Productive Flourishing}
Do you find that you expect more of yourself than you are actually able to accomplish in any given day?
I am finding myself feeling like this all the time.
Every morning, I open up the binder I have filled with my monthly, weekly and daily plans and I jot down all the things I would like to get done that day.
I have so many ideas, so many BIG plans that I get really excited about.
I want, for example, to create tank tops with my designs screen printed on them,
So, I think to myself, I will have to learn to screen print.
On top of everything else that I am trying to do?
Yes, I think to myself. I will do that too.
So I put it on the "to-do" list. 
But I am finding that sometimes I get so overwhelmed with all I've set out to do,
that I don't even know where to start.
Yesterday, I had a fantastic brainstorm session with the wonderful Tara Gentile, author of the blog, Scoutie Girl.
As I explained to her about all I was trying to do and about how I had trouble deciding where to focus my energies, 
she said something that really resonated with me:
"If you try to do it all yourself, 1) you're going to get frustrated 2) you're going to stretch yourself too thin"
I realized immediately how right she was.
So often I find myself struggling against my own *extremely high* expectations of myself, struggling against, 
what in yoga we call the
"The Dance of Yes and No."
In my wanting to say "YES!" to everything, to all my ideas and to my idealistic expectations of myself, I am exhausting myself and getting burned out.
By saying "yes" without any clear boundary, I am limiting myself by not being realistic about what I am actually able to accomplish.
In Anusara yoga, I've learned
that saying "yes" to life is saying "yes" to the universe.
And that we do this with the breath.
Every time we inhale,
we are making an agreement to keep on living.
Each breath is a "Yes".
But, in saying "Yes" to life, we must also learn to say "No".
This for me is the tricky part.
Because saying "No" means letting go of that which is not serving me,
including thinking that I have to do it all.
But, "No" helps me to create clear boundaries.
So, if I can learn to say "no" to things like learning a whole new trade in order to make something work,
I have more room and space and energy
to say to "Yes" to the things I am passionate about,
like painting.
Here's another way to think about it:
If, for example, I had only one art tool in my arsenal, say I only had a paintbrush. and nothing else.
That would be incredibly limiting (too much "no") and not much fun.
But say, it was the opposite, say I had UNLIMITED materials, every tool I could possibly imagine.
I wouldn't even know where to start or end. I would flounder in the "what to do with all this" kind of mind.

Saying "yes" to life, to ideas and dreams is wonderful. It opens us to possibilities and helps plug us in to our own ability to fly and expand. But saying "no" is beneficial too. It helps to protect us. It creates a container for us to know ourselves better.
Ultimately, it becomes a dance of balancing between the two extremes and finding the middle ground.
Saying "yes" enough to allow life, but saying "no" enough that the boundaries of expectations and "to-dos" are clear and realistically do-able.
It is in that place in the middle where we can experience our true creative freedom.
So, I want to know,
How is your dance going?
In what ways are you saying, "yes"?
What do you need to say "no" to, to let go of
in order to say "yes" to life more fully!
Next week, I'll be sending out my newsletter,
full of ideas and insights to help you say "yes" to your life!
Subscribe here for Inspiration for your Inbox

I wish you the most wonderful weekend!



aimee said...

you hit on one of my favorite guiding principles here - creativity within limits. if i had every resource at my fingertips i wouldn't have the ability to deal with it and i'd probably do nothing. when i feel a little restraint (even if it's uncomfortable), it gives me definition, something to work around or within, something to push through. i definitely have to have a mix of the yes and the no to make things work!

Kristen said...

I've had to say a few "no's" lately, and it is feeling freeing and liberating. I was doing some trade work that was feeling much more like a burden than something I was excited about, and I had to let it go. I also started a 12 Step group 6 months ago (CoDA). The service positions are supposed to be rotated, but 6 months later, a lot of people want to come to the meeting, but no one wants to help with opening the meeting, etc, and I am feeling trapped. So, today, when I go in, I am going to tell everyone that I am stepping down as of October 11, and the meeting may very well end when I do that. Hard!!!! But, as soon as I made the decision to let it go, and let the outcomes go, I felt so much lighter and happier. And I am still proud that I started the meeting and that we met for 6 months no matter what happens.

So, I definitely resonated with this post. Saying no is so hard for me. I want to do everything! I don't want to hurt feelings, and I don't want to feel like I am missing an opportunity, but sanity and serenity are priceless, and somehow those seem to evaporate when I load my plate up with too many yes's and don't honor my own human limitations.

Good for you for setting boundaries and claiming some mental and emotional space for yourself!


Eliza Lynn Tobin said...

@aimee yup! you put it so beautifully!

@kristen good for you for figuring out what is important for you to say no to! That is not an easy thing to do, especially when its other people that you have to say no to! I too really want to say "yes" everything because I really don't like disappointing people. But I realize too that if I am not in a good place (because I've stretched myself too thin), I won't be any use to anyone anyway! Thanks for sharing this story!


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