Friday, August 20, 2010

Place of Yes

What's the difference between being flexible and being a doormat?  Between being up for anything, a free spirit, a relaxed and unstructured person, and being an overextended flake?  Where do you draw the line between being a team player and spreading yourself too thin for the sake of the group?  Between "coming from a place of yes" (as my girl Bethenny likes to say) and just straight up being a "yes man" who can't be relied upon to express her true preference or emotions as they are masked by her eagerness to please?  In my new incarnation in life, these are questions I find myself pondering.

I am what you call a people-pleaser.  I'm a Libra who is constantly balancing either side of any given decision from what topping to put on my pizza to what direction to take my career.  I can often see all the positives and negatives of any choice all too clearly and become paralyzed by my own analysis.  I know I am not alone in this.  As a mom, and a work-at-home mom in particular, this territory becomes all the more fraught.  Having a baby requires an immense level of flexibility (thought you'd be out the door by 10am?  WRONG!  The baby's fallen asleep and you don't dare wake him, or perhaps he's smeared plum pieces all over the floor, and you need to clean them up or come home to a cloud of fruit flies... but I digress...).  I learned within the first weeks of little J's life that I'd have to let go of some of the control and planning I usually hinge my sanity on, and learn to live life at a different pace where curveballs are the norm and plans often go out the window at a moment's notice.

And so I find myself here: at peace with the fly-by-night nature of life these days, in a pleasant state of controlled chaos.  But, like most women, I also feel more or less at the hub of a wheel of friends, family and business connections, all of which present competing demands of my time and energy.  Often I feel tightly spread between their needs and wants and my own capacity and will to deliver.  There's a battle between the visceral inner voice that may not necessarily want to do something or be somewhere, the one that knows that grown-ups have to compromise and rise to the occasion sometimes even when they don't feel like it, and the one that comes from a place of yes, and just wants to say yes to everything and everyone indiscriminately to keep the peace.  These voices are increasingly at odds, and I seek a way to find a balance.

I've seen it done a bunch of ways and rare is the person who can achieve a measured mix of selflessness and self-preservation, but this is where I am trying to get.  Not necessarily to a full-time place of yes, but to a place where I feel my own needs are harmonized with my need to serve and help; a place of self-possessed.
How do you do it?


  1. The most difficult lesson I've learned and am still learning is that when I need to make a decision to do something for someone else's sake, I don't feel regret or resentment. Those two emotions are energy robbers and mood downers. I also try to never veer from priorities that make me really happy: actively loving my husband, taking ANY opportunity to be with my grandson, talking with daughters, reaching out to sons-in-law, walking in nature with friends, practicing yoga in a community, writing, taking time to take pride in my career. I could go on and on which says something too.

  2. Sometimes asking yourself "I am doing this because I genuinely want to... or because I feel I should want to..." can be a test of where your interests and energy really fall.

  3. In my life, I've often had this problem of balancing the needs of others & nurturing my own needs as well. I, much like you, tend to be a people pleaser...or at least would like harmony and to see everyone happy. For myself, a lot of it has to do with who I am with. As you know, when living in VT, I was very much putting my own needs on the back burner. It wore me out to the point I was hanging on by a thread. I think that when you surround yourself with people who support you, it's easier to take that time for yourself when needed...but I find it will probably always be a struggle for me, especially when Nick & I have kids.