Finding your Central Park

There are no hard and fast rules anymore. Life is becoming more flexible around us in all areas, and we need to adapt constantly.

From someone who plays very well following instructions and rules, this is quite frankly doing my head in some days.

How do we manage this new way of living? We require both strength and flexibility.

This is something I realised some time ago, but with a busy life I’ve dragged my feet on. Recently however I’ve seen the connection to all areas of my life so am adding in little bits of both.

It’s not about being extreme with either of these things, it’s about balancing a few of them and understanding the link.

Strength and flexibility lend themselves to feeling strong, balanced and sure, which then allows ourselves the flexibility to enjoy ourselves as well.

This translates to both our minds and bodies.

If we are too strong, we can lose that softness that makes our experience of life so enjoyable. We become rigid in our thinking, and moving. This means that we may miss opportunities as we can’t turn to see them there waiting for us to enjoy.

If we are too flexible however, and don’t have any strength or stability we can find ourselves being swayed every which way. Mentally this can be exhausting and unproductive with us never really moving forward. Physically, it can mean injuries.

Some people work in phases, focusing on one then the other at certain times of their life or the year.

For others it’s seasonal. For some people they seem to innately recognise this need for balance and set up their lives with each of these things in a harmonious dance.

When I meet these innately balanced people, as you know, I really enjoy watching them. Their ways are perplexing but as a student of life I love to learn.

Recently I was chased around by a wasp, and it wasn’t the first time one had found its way into my room. There was no nest, and they’re not common in our area.

I looked up the spiritual meaning of this sign. I’m a firm believer that sometimes creepy crawlies are just that, but other times I can feel that they are there with a bigger message.

The wasp is all about defending their home and self with all that they have. There are tones of vengeance yes, but at their core, they are fiercely protective of what’s most important to them. This is a trait I certainly struggle with.

My Italian heritage and Taurus cusp nature means that I’m fiercely loyal to those I love.

Hurt someone I love and you’ll see a very different side of me. In this regard I’m in line with a wasp, but what’s most important in my own life as I’ve posted about so many times can fall by the wayside.

So how many of us would fiercely defend what’s most important in our own lives for ourselves?

I’ve never quite understood how one particular person I know manages the balance that he does.

Running a successful business, working out 6 days a week, being social, always appearing relaxed and with two small children and a family it’s amazing.

He recently talked about the concept of his Central Park from a book he was reading. It’s the thing that keeps us sane, just like Central Park in New York.

It balances out the craziness that surrounds this calm space, and without it, the whole city would fall into disarray. So even though it’s on expensive real estate that could be populated, New York locals know the true value of this space and protect it.

This particular person defends his Central Park in his life, because without it he’d go crazy. He respects its value and makes space for it.

If you take a moment, there’s certainly things in your life that you know when they fall away make your experience, or maybe even you, a lot less pleasant.

Do you compromise these things or fiercely defend them knowing the impact if they fall away?

It’s not about ego, it’s not about being inflexible or stubborn. Protecting what makes your life work is about respecting the overarching importance of these things, creating the space for them and protecting them.

It’s about preventing chaos.

That’s the message that I thought I’d deliver to you all. Find, make space for and protect your Central Park, whatever that is for you. You are worth it.

Then you’ve got a protected space to manage everything that goes on around it.

Much love,

C

Part 3: Discovering personal boundaries

Realising and letting go of an unconscious pattern is a huge step and we should always acknowledge ourselves for what we’ve just done. It’s a big thing.

It does leave a gap in our thinking and way of being that needs to be filled to avoid us refilling it with more of the same old ways of thinking again.

This is how we create lasting changes to our ways of being.

Some new patterns are easy to create and can be done without a lot of effort or focus. I write about these often on the blog.

Other times, we have no comprehension of how to function without our unconscious pattern and need to look around.

What does this tangibly look like? How do other people do it? How do we maintain it?

Over-giving was a way of life and a huge part of who I was. I didn’t know anything else.

The people who seemed to be able to balance their life and time had always seemed so far away. The goal seemed unattainable so I never tried.

With a bit of mindfulness, I’d created this breakthrough a few times in my life but I’d never been able to maintain it.  

This time was different. I fully understood the impact it was having on myself, my goals and the people I loved and wasn’t giving up.

I was conscious not to fall into a common trap and simply become the polar opposite. This isn’t truly breaking free as it’s still being fuelled by the same limitation that drove the original way of being in most cases.

I didn’t want to become a taker. I wanted to learn how to automatically take a moment to check in with myself and how much I had to give to any one thing at the time.

Serendipitously two people popped up in my life who seemed to have amazing boundaries.

One seemed to have endless time and energy for everyone and everything he cared about, and the other was pragmatic at ensuring that he didn’t over-give himself while still fitting in what he was most passionate about.

They might as well have been aliens.

Luckily we spend a lot of time together so I’m slowly learning how they manage this on an ongoing basis.

They both make time for what is most important to them, and always consider what they want and need in terms of this.

They are inward, and balanced in some cases and are constantly checking in with what they want and need in that moment. Then they make it happen.

For example they may have said they’d go out but if they’re tired they’ll stay in. A-mazing.

If they are passionate about something they’ll make time for that no exceptions. Wow.

If someone is struggling, they’ll trust that this person will be okay, lend a shoulder or ear to the extent that they can without overburdening themselves and then move forward.

Wait, what?

This is the middle ground I wanted to find. The space between being selfish and giving to the point of a total and utter empty tank.

Who are we helping when we have an empty tank anyway? No one.

For me, there is still a fine line.

If someone is going through something that they truly cannot get through without me, I’ll be there.

On the other hand I’ll also make tough decisions that let me be there fully for whoever or whatever is most important in that moment. 

The difference is that now I don’t need to save every person that comes into my life whether they want me to or not.

The other difference is that now I have fuel in the tank for when something pops up and I need to be ready to go instantly. It’s opened up a lot of new experiences and made life a lot more spontaneous and fun.

Next time you are helping above and beyond what any logical person would do, ask yourself does this person truly need this much of my time and help?

We are all strong and resilient and blessed with the answers we need to get through. Always. We just need to learn to listen.

By doing the work for other people, we’re actually denying them the chance to learn, grow and move forward.

We’re hindering them and us. No one is winning in this situation.

If you’re an over-giver, or over-giving, ask yourself why. What are you getting out of saving people?

There’s always a payoff for doing anything. Even good deeds have payoffs.

When it’s to the extreme we are usually trying to counteract something big within ourselves.

Think back. Were you always like this?

If you stop saving people all of the time what are you afraid will happen?

There’s your clue.

From here you can begin unravelling the real reason why you are an over-giver, or any deep subconscious patter, and slowly take back the reins of your life.

Much love,

C

Part 2: discovering personal boundaries

The more I looked around, the more I saw areas where over-giving was spreading like a bad disease.

Business was one of the big areas.

The startup community is all about scratching each other’s backs.

I saw myself doing a lot of scratching. Not because I wanted to have the mutually beneficial two way exchange of knowledge, help and support, but because I felt like I needed to help them in any way I could.

I was time poor for the important things, and this is a lot to do with not investing my time wisely and over-giving. This habit needed to be kicked before it became expected.

There is always a place for kindness, compassion, support and helping a friend out, but when it becomes a constant demand from you it might be time to step back and see how much time and energy is being spent because you think you need to, versus want to.

Consider this: if you throw yourself into the ocean to save someone else without taking a moment to put on a life jacket is this the best solution?

What if you both drown? What if there was an easier and safer way to do this that would have kept you both safe?

By staying on the ship and throwing over a life saving device, or looking after yourself for a moment before you jump in, this leaves both of you with a lot more options. It also keeps you safe to help others in the future.

What does this look like in real life?

For me I began to look over where I was investing my energy. There was a lot I could see being driven by my unconscious need to over-give.

The list was unexpected and made things glaringly obvious – most of this wasn’t where I wanted to be spending my time or energy.

I went for a walk to help me process what I’d just realised.

I thought about what was most important to me. Who were the people I loved most? What areas of my life were most important? What topped me up so I had fuel in the tank at the end of the day?

A lot of this was also what makes me be a better person for me and everyone else.

Things began to click in my head.

When I’m consciously running my business, I’m always weighing up output versus input. When I do this the results speak for themselves.

Why do I not extend this into my personal life to at least some degree? Why don’t I take a moment to see if I have the time/energy/want to do something before jumping right in?

When I made this choice everything that is truly important to me all of a sudden had life breathed back into it. My life once again reflected the amazing one that I choose to create.

My life was my own again and I could breathe.

It’s a deeply engrained pattern so I began to look around for some tangible examples of people who have managed to do this in a balanced way. They began popping up in my life and this was the final step to creating personal boundaries.

Much love,

C

Part 1: Discovering personal boundaries

This is a post dedicated to all of the over-givers out there.

You know, the ones who give without apprehension or consideration.

Those of us who give first and think later. We who see someone in need and no matter what we’re doing or need will drop everything to help them on their journey.

This one is for you.

I looked around my life today and saw an unsettling trend that I was collecting a lot of takers again.

I’ve done a major cull over the last few years of takers as I am slowly learning to have better boundaries. Some takers left easily realising that I wasn’t giving them what they needed anymore, and other more toxic and connected people were much trickier.

It wasn’t a natural thing for me to do, but eventually I got more comfortable making hard decisions that were the best thing for my life.

Like so many over-givers this is a lifetime pattern from as early as I can remember. It would be based on a decision I made when I was very young, and has shaped my entire life and self until I became aware of its impact.

My mum was the best cook out of any of my friends’ parents and as many Italian women do, she showed her love through lovingly preparing our food.

At lunchtimes I’d share with my friends quite a bit. Their packaged lunches never seemed that appealing and I could have this kind of food anytime I wanted.

Just like sharing my lunch however, what starts out with innocent intentions for us to share within our boundaries can become expected and then forced in the wrong hands.

Takers, and even more so over-takers do not like it when they’re not considered.

Whatever the reason, be it forgetting or no longer wanting to indulge their every whim, things can get nasty sometimes when we start to change.

For me, I got strangled in the playground one day because I’d finished my lunch already when this person asked for some. There was none to give and this was her reaction.

I didn’t tell a soul until my adult life, feeling like it had been my fault for not thinking to share first.

Looking back, this left me with a few scars.

It taught me that I was only worth what I was willing to give, and that I had no right to think of myself first. In fact, it may have gone as deep as showing me that my life would be in danger if I didn’t give everything I had.

Thankfully I now see that this was an extreme case of bullying and, in reality, I had every right to eat my lunch. Our subconscious doesn’t see reality unfortunately however. It only sees threats and survival.

This is more than likely what changed me from being an giver into needing to be an over-giver.

Whatever happened in your life to give you this pattern may not have been as extreme on the outside, or maybe it was. Whatever happened the internal pain and decisions from that moment are more than likely very similar.

I’m so thankful for my chronic fatigue shining light (finally!) onto how my over-giver ways were adding to this condition.

It’s a big topic so my next post will talk more about the impact of over-giving and then how to dissolve this need within yourself or any over-givers in your life.

Much love,

C