Published in the March 2020 Edition of the Women’s Lifestyle Magazine.
If you are going out of your way to read these words, it is likely that you care not only about your life decisions and your lifestyle, but about others, as well. The challenges is that it can be hard to know how to make the best decision for ourselves, even when we are well-intentioned. So, when we think about how to make a decision, we should consider the fact that just because we can does not mean that we should.
The Myth of “Doing It All”
If we were honest with ourselves, we would likely say that we would like to do it all. Society itself does a good job at convincing us that we have to do it all: yoga class, taking the kids to soccer practice, volunteering weekly, staying up to date on current events, having frequent outings with friends, working full time, training for a marathon, making family dinners every night, and painting on the side as a hobby. Here is the challenge, though: it is a myth. We cannot do it all.
Even if all of the things we fill our schedules with are focused on self-care and are well-intentioned, being constantly busy (even if we feel that we are “better under pressure”) does not allow us the space we need to prioritize what really matters. It is like that old adage: “Tell me what someone does with their time and I can tell you what matters to them.”
Thinking of Self-Care in a Different Way
Prioritizing what we do for self-care does not mean doing less self-care. It simply means that we are re-evaluating what serves us and what, frankly, adds more stress to our lives. Physically, we may be able to train for a marathon. And, we may have time to have weekly outings with friends for fun. But, what if we do not want to? Can we practice being okay with that?
In some ways, considering the fact that just because we can do something does not mean that we should IS an act of self-care as it reminds us that we have permission to constantly evaluate what our needs are. We have a right to do what we want to do and not what we do not want to do. And, just because “The Jones’” do it does not mean that we should do it, too.
This practice can also be one that provides more awareness about the driving factors behind the beliefs that we have to be able to do “do it all.” For instance, when we say “no” to volunteering more at a local community agency, what feelings are present? Shame? Guilt? Sadness? Relief?
Tapping into what emotions are present when we are making a decision is a wonderful opportunity to better understand what stories we are telling ourselves (e.g. “I should be Super Mom!”) and, therefore, how we should navigate making decisions. Just because we want the body that Jillian Michaels says we can have does not mean that we have to dedicate ourselves to doing 500 crunches a day. Maybe we do not want to. Maybe we would rather spend time creatively in the kitchen making healthy meals for ourselves. If so, great!
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So, simply take that step toward doing something (but not everything).
What this Does Not Mean
This, of course, does not mean disconnecting from the world and channeling our inner two year old who says constantly “I don’t wanna!” Being selective with what we do and not simply trying to do it all does not mean that we isolate ourselves and fall into a pit of depression. Living with the realization that “just because we can does not mean we should” does not mean “don’t do anything.” It means, instead, that we allow ourselves permission to repeatedly evaluate our needs, interests, and capacities. It means that we agree that, more so than the stories about what we “should” be doing that play in our head, we have a responsibility to allow our needs to change and to grow. And, with that, we have the ability to practice not judgement but acceptance.
~Ashley Carter Youngblood, LMSW, LMFT, CADC, ADS, CMHIMP
Ashley Carter Youngblood is a licensed Clinical Social Worker, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and a Certified Mental Health Integrative Medicine Provider who has been in the field since 2007. She offers counseling at her woman-owned business, Inner Peace Counseling, PLC, for those in Kalamazoo, Portage, Mattawan, Battle Creek, Paw Paw, and the surrounding areas of Southwest Michigan. She is passionate about her work with clients, whether it’s providing individual counseling, couples counseling, family therapy, life coaching, or education about one of her growing passions and areas of expertise: the connection between nutrition and mental health. Her specialties include holistic healing/mindfulness, counseling for women, anxiety, couples counseling, and addictions/substance abuse.
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