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  • The Roles We Play

    In our last blog we focused on ways to take back control over your schedule. The  goal was to make sure there are more items on your calendar that you really want to do. We shared how anxiety and depression can grow louder when we feel inadequate to handle all the tasks we have taken responsibility for. You are taking ownership of your calendar and are scheduling a few minutes each day to catch your breath and relax a bit. The benefits are felt quickly and the return on this small investment is paying off in big ways.

    Now we want to help you take back control in relationships and the role you play in the lives of  those in your world. Role? What does that mean? Here’s an example.

    Sally is a friend you’ve known since college. You’ve been able to slow her down enough to grab a quick breakfast together. Looking across the table you notice dark circles under her eyes and a wrinkled blouse in need of pressing. Making eye contact, Sally starts to cry as she notices your kind compassionate gaze. She starts explaining why she’s so upset.

    Earlier in the week a former coworker from Sally’s last job stopped by her office to dump her complaints about their former boss. Because of the interruption, Sally had to take her work home and planned to finish it up later but never got around to it. Then her sister called last night and kept Sally up late talking her down from yet another self-created crisis. It was after 1 am before she got to bed. Waking up already depressed she soon realized she had missed a much-needed doctor’s appointment the day before. Then her personal trainer texted her that she had missed her spin class. On top of all that, she got a voice mail from her boss scolding her for being behind on an important work project. All of these together have caused Sally’s self-confidence to tank, increased her anxiety, and has her berating herself with stories of failure and self-doubt.

    What roles could Sally look at and work on changing?

    The role of ex-coworker. The former coworker is no longer in Sally’s life and the negativity she dumps out is contagious. Texting her now to say she isn’t able to accommodate the drop-in visits any more sets Sally up to have more time to focus on getting things done at work.

    The role of sister. Over the years you’ve noticed how Sally sacrifices for her younger sister and how it leaves her drained. Sally wants to stay in relationship with her sister but the way she’s doing it is costing her. She could set “office hours” around calls from her sister to make sure she reserves time for much-needed rest. No calls after 7:00 pm and no more than 30 minutes of conversation could help Sally support her sister in a more healthy way.

    The role of managing her own health. Sally knows when stress is impacting her health. She can schedule wellness days to keep her physical and mental health a priority and schedule her spin class in the mornings to start her day off in a healthy way.

    The role of supervisor. Sally’s gotten in the habit of covering for the poor performers on her work team. She has noticed that another female manager is good at delegating and motivating her team to come through on their projects. Sally could get some tips on how to manage her team better and how to motivate them to take on a bigger role.

    You can see how small changes in the roles Sally plays could free her up to take better care of herself and have room in her calendar for things she enjoys doing. How would she start?

    Reserve a day to focus on roles.  It seems impossible to Sally to be able to step out of her already crazy schedule but making time to tackle the problem is a necessary first step. When Sally drives to the coast or sits herself in a cozy coffee shop for several hours, it feels more like a treat than a chore to focus in on what makes her life happier.

    Buy a paper planner. I know – who uses a planner anymore? A planner lets Sally have an organized way to record the tasks swirling around in her brain. A planner can become the place her life sits neatly organized and lets her schedule what she really loves to do.

    Take a pause. Sally closes her eyes and takes a few deep breaths and tells herself she is in control of what happens next. She may want to run away, let anxiety get loud, or crumble under the weight of the task. Using a mantra like “You got this” or “It’s just a piece of paper” helps Sally settle her thoughts and focus on the task at hand.

    Make a list. Sally’s to-do list is a hodge-podge of illegible post-it-notes scattered everywhere, so while sitting in a beautiful setting she begins to make  a list of the roles she plays and their associated tasks. The list will be overwhelming and that sets Sally up perfectly for the next step. It will be hard to continue but Sally can’t give up now! So, she takes another quick pause and proceeds.

    Use the “dread, delight, or design” exercise. Sipping her favorite cup of tea Sally centers herself and looks at each role and associated tasks on her list. Over time she begins to recognize if seeing the task evokes a negative feeling “dread” or a positive feeling “delight”. Sally may not be able to cross off every “dread”, so the third category of “design” gives her an option to keep the role in play but design a different way to do it. The goal in this exercise is to begin  crossing off the “dreads” and replace them with more “delights”.

    Sally has to remember that this is a process that builds on itself. There are so many things out of her control, so focusing in on the things within her control, like the roles she plays, gives a great return on her investment – less anxiety, less negativity, and more self-confidence. And that feeling of delight can propel her forward..

    If you’re interested in going on a journey like Sally’s now is the best time to start. If you need help getting started, just give us a call and we’ll set aside time to walk you through the process. A counseling appointment would be a great thing to add to your schedule in the “delight” category. We’re here to help. Call us today at 850.450.7223.

    Missed our last blog on Taking Back Control? No problem. You can catch up here https://believehopeinspire.com/taking-back-control-how-to-create-control-over-your-schedule/