Not My Problem: A Mantra for Those Who Take on Too Much

 

Popcorn
Popcorn (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This morning I received an exasperating email from a dear friend. She volunteered to help with her children’s school popcorn fundraiser. Her initial commitment involved collecting and counting money but quickly evolved to managing every aspect of this endeavor. She repeatedly reached out to other parents for assistance, including the PTA president. . .Crickets. . .Instead she received phone calls and email inquiries about when and where to pick up the popcorn. She felt tempted to reply, “go pop your own f’ing popcorn. I’m done!” Knowing my friend, she likely replied with something kinder after she concocted a revenge fantasy of pelting apathetic parents with popcorn.

Several years ago I received a lucrative contract to help an agency complete assessments which had spent several months piling up in a file cabinet. When I pulled the drawer open, I noticed some were already out of compliance and others would soon follow. I quickly realized I could not dig this agency out of the hole it created. I instantly felt anxious and worried. I contacted my supervisor who replied, “Amelia, this is not your problem. Go to work on time. Work hard while you’re there and leave on time. The fact that they need additional staff will quickly rise to the top. If you try to save them, they won’t take the needed steps to address their problem.”

I’ve carried this sage advice into subsequent work environments. Transferring it into my personal relationships poses a tougher challenge. I think women are particularly susceptible to rescuing others. Maybe it goes back to deep evolutionary wiring telling us if a tribe member is struggling the tribe will die! Regardless, the tribe will not perish if we do not assume others’ problems. I try to enlist people in my life to remind me of this fact. For example, I called my sweet sister a few weeks ago and before I even recounted my dilemma, I told her, “I need you to remind me this is NOT my problem. . .I can’t save everyone. I’m not Jesus.” To each compassionate, yet irrational point I made, she lovingly replied, “not your problem.”

Where in your life do you need to remind yourself, “Not my problem”? If you run around placing oxygen masks on everyone else, and pass out because you forgot to put on yours, THEN you have a problem!

Imperfectly,

Amelia

Making Space

Hello Everyone! Happy New Year! I realize it’s been . . . ahem. . . a couple months since I last posted. Upon reflection, I initially framed this sabbatical as a time of self-growth and actualization. Then, I went home for the holidays and realized I have a long way to go in this department. During my hiatus, I summoned motivation to re-enter the blogosphere. I signed up for a “Get Published Now!” class. Unfortunately, and ironically, it was postponed until next week. However, I am undeterred!

When I returned home from the holidays, I surveyed my cozy apartment. I thought, “I have too much s*#t in here.” I am by no means a pack rat, and I keep my space fairly neat. However, my gaze gravitated to items I no longer needed. Following my divorce I moved my sectional sofa and over-sized chair into a tiny, new living room. I knew the chair overwhelmed the space. However, it matched the sofa, technically fit, and served as my splendidly imperfect dog’s favorite napping space. I rarely sat in it (or dusted under it for that matter . . . eww). I knew it needed to go. I considered consigning it, but this option seemed burdensome. I decided to email my local friends and inquire if they were interested in or knew of someone who could use the chair. A few minutes later I received an email from my yoga instructor. She shared that one of my classmates lost everything in a fire Christmas Day. I made contact with this classmate who expressed interest in the chair. When she saw it, her eyes filled with tears. She commented that it looked remarkably similar to the one she lost in the fire. That evening some friends came over to pick me up for dinner, and we had some time to spare prior to our reservation. They kindly helped me re-arrange my furniture which made my living space open and inviting. Moving the furniture independently would have likely resulted in an exorbitant chiropractor bill!

A couple of days later my sweet sister told me she had a pretty rough day and just desired a hug. On her way to the metro station, she saw a homeless man outside her office building. She had seen him several times, and he never asked for a handout. She stated she felt called to give him a few dollars and wish him a good day. This deed resulted in her missing her usual train. However, while waiting on the platform, she unexpectedly spotted a friend who greeted her with a big hug. She would have missed him had she caught the earlier train.

Love finds us when we make space for it and give it away. What things do you need to let go of? Make space for? How can you show your love today? (Commenting on my blog is one way if you’re struggling here. . . or calling your Mom . . . the possibilities are endless.)

Imperfectly,

Amelia

My splendidly imperfect dog still has many nap spaces
My splendidly imperfect dog still has many nap spaces