Baby-steps for showing up for yourself – stop gift wrapping your time for others!

We may have given it away in fear, or because of threats or tantrums or other manipulation – but the bottom line is we GAVE it away.  Our time.

Anyone who has been in an abusive relationship always beats themselves up over all the wasted time spent trying to fix/heal/win over this person.  And I have yet to hear one success story, so inevitably – whether sooner or later – we all come to this point. We can NEVER get that time back.  

Giving away your time is another way that you give away your power! 

We all have 24 hours in a day to use as best we see fit, but when we function as codependents or people pleasers we often find that we struggle to get things done that are important to US.

Living with a demanding person can condition you to keep everything open and available to their every whim.  Besides if you try to do something for YOU, they will undoubtedly try to sabotage it or make you pay another way.  They want your time to revolve around their every need.

Even years after being in that type of a relationship, I have found it maddeningly difficult to reclaim my time.

In fact as a recovering codependent, this has been one of my hardest challenges to beat.

My life can still sometimes feel like a runaway train.  So many demands and so many things on my personal to-do list that often remain undone at the end of the day.  And going to bed knowing that I basically failed myself…well that never feels good.

I used to resent my poor husband for this because he was SO GOOD at doing things for HIMSELF.

He would come home from work, and then immediately pack his gym bag for the next day, put it in the car, prepare his lunch, set up the automatic coffee, and lay out his clothes… I almost felt insulted.  You just got home and you are already preparing to leave me again!

And he would in fact leave the house extra early every day so that he could hit the gym on his way to work.  He was diligent about setting things in motion and preparing for his next day. These were the things that made it possible for him to accomplish his work-out – and that was important to him.

What I thought was selfish was actually quite healthy.  I have ended up learning a lot from my husband.

Researchers say that the preparation is half the battle.  If I can just get myself out of bed and crawl onto my yoga mat…well…eventually I will probably find the remote, turn on Youtube and do some yoga.  But when the alarm goes off I only focus on the mat. And I lay my clothes out the night before. I set myself up.  

If I come home and immediately take off my work slacks and put on my jeans and hike boots, it’s very likely that I will walk the dog.  She knows this too, so her growing excitement gives me the boost of energy I need after a long day of wrangling teenagers. If I come home and plop down on the sofa and start scrolling social…well, that walk ain’t happening.

So having good intentions isn’t enough.

And having things on my to-do list isn’t enough.  

I need to prepare and set myself up.

But even more important for me: I need to schedule it in.

A to-do item without a time assigned to it will likely never happen. If I just wait for the time to magically open up like a wormhole, I will find that I once again reach the end of my NON-STOP BUSY day and to my utter frustration very few of my priorities got taken off the list.

It’s immensely defeating.

I let myself down again.

I would become envious of my husband – how is it he has no problem putting his schedule and priorities first?  And I run around putting out fires and tending to all the children and animals?

Through reading and listening to speakers who are much smarter and better organized than I am, I have figured out that in order to make something happen, I need to be INTENTIONAL about it and plan it into my day. 

Step one is to have a plan. 

Then, when the time comes – yep, you guessed it – I need to show up for myself and follow the dang plan.  That’s the second step.

This part is the one that trips me up most often because I am such a people pleaser (like I said, ex-codependent but sometimes…not so ex) and it seems like when it’s time for me to do my thing, someone else always wants my attention or needs my help…

So I move MY thing to the bottom of the list.  I figure I’ll get it done after I tend to everyone and everything else.

We tend to give priority to others over ourselves.  And saying YES to what we want, will likely mean saying NO to something or – God forbid – someone else.

And honestly, I’m growing, but I can still suck at this.

Case in point, it is 9pm and am just now sitting down to write today.  And yet this morning, when I was sitting with my peppermint tea ( with vanilla soy milk – yum!) I specifically asked myself – “Kelly, what is meaningful for you to do today?”, and I answered myself that out of ALL the things that needed to be done, the two most meaningful were writing and walking the dog. 🙂  Those feed my soul.

Yes, on my list was also church, groceries, wash the car, mud the dining room ceiling with my hubby, visit my friend who just moved, make dinner and prep for school tomorrow.  But the two things I wanted to do FOR ME were walk my pooch and write.

But did I assign it a time?  Of course not. It’s the weekend, I was relaxing, so I figured I would do it after the other items got finished.  When it didn’t inconvenience anyone else’s list or schedule. Brilliant strategy.

So now, out of sheer stubbornness, I am sitting here banging on the keyboard when I really want to be going to bed… 

Does this sound familiar?

I have lived most of my life allowing it to simply be filled by whatever may come my way.

I am an open door – inviting anything and everything to walk through and take a seat.

This is why I never even made it to college until I was 30! (and free from my time-controller ex)

I have allowed others to choose my focus, to use up my energies, to consume my time.

This isn’t to say that those are bad people anymore.  They aren’t – on the contrary they are my absolute favorite peeps in the world, which is why I would do anything for them.

But where do I fall in all this?

Do I get any of my own time?

What I want – my pathetic little wish list – ends up being picked up off the floor at the end of a long day and dusted off… Oh yeah, I was going to paint my toenails, research that thing that interests me, call my BFF. Oh well. Maybe tomorrow.

And so it goes.

How I have adulted this far without learning to take control of my dang time is truly a mystery sometimes.

Fellow codependents may recognize this silly song and dance. 

Maybe you are also a willing victim to the hijacking of your day by whatever need happens to rear its head first.

But at the core, the same issues always seem to lurk – insecurities, lies that we are not worth as much as other people, that there is something wrong with who we are and so our worth comes from DOING for others: we need to EARN our value.  We will show up for others but not for ourselves because we function out of a very low self-esteem.  

We don’t respect ourselves enough to honor our own wishes.

Change that!

SHOW UP FOR YOURSELF.

Schedule YOUR priorities in!

Even if it’s just sitting with a cup of tea and writing.

DO IT.

You are worthy of your goals, and you are worthy of investing in YOU.  

Speak truth to those lies when they keep you from following through with the things you truly want for yourself.  

YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!

So how can I triumph over my own to-do list and take control of my time?

After all, these are the 24 hours that make up MY life.  Why should I let others dictate how I spend them? The things that are important to ME should also feature as important in MY schedule!

I’m going to share with you what I learned over the summer that has pretty much revolutionized the way I see time management and given me hope that I can indeed have victory in this area. Ready?

OK, here’s how we do it:

  1. Make your master to-do list for the week.  Write down ALL the things!
  2. Sit down with the calendar/planner and REALISTICALLY (try to gauge as best you can how long each task will take) SCHEDULE it all in. 
  3. Build in FREE TIME for each day (this can be your back-up to use if things don’t go according to plan…we need to be realistic here…Murphy is always waiting)
  4. Throw away the to-do list.  It is now built into your week.
  5. FOLLOW THE SCHEDULE.  Religiously. Treat it like a meeting with your boss.  And it is – YOU are the boss and THESE are the things that are important to you.  Show up for yourself and make those things happen!  

As you consistently do this, you will become trustworthy.  You will start keeping those promises to yourself and build confidence in your ability to follow-through.

See, fundamentally I had learned not to trust myself to show up for myself.  I would show up for everyone else, but never do what Kelly needed. In every area:  all the books I wanted to read, all the crafts and art I wanted to paint, all of the girlfriends I wanted to call and see, and the work-outs I wanted to do, toenails or hair I needed to tend to…you get the idea.  I was – subconsciously – constantly letting myself down and telling myself by my actions that I wasn’t important. I wasn’t showing up enough for myself, and at the end of the week I felt spent and empty and envious of the people in my life who were doing the things that filled them and made them happy.

Then I learned the truth that I am worthy of my own time too.

And the growth began, and now I am learning how to reclaim my time – a necessary part of reclaiming my life.

But YOU don’t have to wait until you are in your forties to learn this! You can try it TODAY – put that task in your planner and show up to that meeting!  You CAN gain control of your time and your schedule. Trust me. If there is hope for me in this area there is definitely hope for you.  

So tic toc lady, there is only one today – spend it doing that thing that is meaningful to YOU!

Featured Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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