If you feel stressed, and you want to take more time for self-care, but you don’t make enough time to do it, read this short article. You’ll see how one S.M.A.R.T. woman who was burned-out as she struggled to eliminate her resistance to good self-care. Finally, she created a life of ease and joy.
Betty excelled at her dream job and enjoyed a six-figure income. Married with no children, she was a 30-something, conscientious corporate lawyer. The trouble was that she was anxious, had insomnia, suffered from colitis and felt exhausted most of the time. Stress was taking a big toll.
Betty arrived at work early and stayed late. Then she worked out at the gym, leaving little time for her husband. This driven pattern was leading her down the path to burn-out, but she felt helpless to change her behavior. Although plagued with continual stress, she was dependent on her job to give her praise and recognition. That was the emotional fix she needed, or so she thought so. Her health and her marriage were suffering. Another big issue was that she and her husband wanted to have a baby. She wondered, “When and where will I ever find the time?”
I guided Betty using the technique of “inner voice dialogue” to identify her resistance to changing the driven workaholism pattern. Here’s a sample of her inner self-talk.
1) Her Inner Critic cracked the whip: “Do more, and do it faster. You can do better than this! There’s not enough money. You have to keep working hard.” There just wasn’t enough time to do everything.
2) Her Inner Child felt neglected. Betty saw herself as a 3 year old child in her imagination. The child was so hurt that she would not talk to Betty at first. Her inner child did not trust that Betty really wanted to know her or care about meeting her needs.
3) Betty had no internal Nurturing Parent to take care of her inner child. Betty’s mom and dad were both emotionally distant, brilliant people. We discovered that Betty parented herself the way they parented her.
It took several sessions to develop a trusting relationship between Betty and her inner child. I taught Betty to develop a Nurturing Parent and to dialogue with her Inner Child so she could discover how to meet her unmet needs. Betty needed time to be quiet, to play, to relax, to work in the garden, to hike in the woods. She needed a good long vacation. She needed time to prepare nutritious food and to eat it leisurely. She needed to drink half her weight in ounces of pure water each day instead of drinking soft drinks with caffeine and sugar. Betty needed time to nurture her marriage.
I taught her relaxation processes and facilitated her in inner voice dialogue and other healing processes. After 8 weeks, Betty was making only minor shifts. We had to go deeper, and the next step was to help her identify her unconscious blocks.
Betty concluded that incremental changes were fruitless because she felt powerless to change her driven work habits. The workaholism was still in full control. She decided to take a month off to make a major shift. She needed time to contemplate, “Who am I really? What do I really want, and what do I need to do for my health and for my marriage?” She felt responsible to her colleagues while she was gone, so she agreed to call daily to handle important decisions.
During her month sabbatical, I asked Betty’s husband to come in with her for support. Eager to participate, he expressed concern about Betty’s health, plus he wanted more quality time with her. After a thorough discussion of their core values, they decided to make some core change. They told me that their ideal situation would be for Betty to work three long work days per week and to enjoy four days off every week. What a radical change! Betty was scared, but that’s what they really wanted so I supported them to create it. They developed a budget and decided not to purchase certain things so Betty could reduce her workload to three days a week.
The next step was to approach her employer. Betty was scared to request the job change because she did not believe they would approve it. I helped her to develop her courage to ask for what she really wanted and to believe that she was worth it.
Much to her surprise and relief, Betty’s supervisor encouraged her to create a job-share arrangement with a working mother who also wanted to work part-time.
Within a few months, Betty and her husband downsized to a smaller home. With 4-day weekends, Betty finally eased out of her workaholic mode. She was still conscientious about her work, and now she regularly nurtured her Inner Child, her body, and her marriage.
The most happy day came when they became pregnant, and nine months later Betty delivered a healthy baby girl. Before pregnancy, Betty was concerned that she would have no motherly instincts, but now she was filled with a deep loving bond with her daughter that radiated from her whole being.
The baby helped Betty get to know her Inner Child better. Betty was grateful that she had already befun doing her inner healing work so that she could parent her daughter in a healthy way, unlike the way she had been parented. She was breaking the generational pattern of emotional distance and neglect. Betty and her husband fell in love all over again as they nurtured their little girl.
Betty developed the courage to stop long enough to discover how she could heal her workaholic pattern. With consistent counseling, she was able to eliminate self-sabotage, and implement choices to create a healthy personal life and career. Now she sleeps well. She no longer suffers from digestive problems or colitis, and is much more relaxed. Best of all, she experiences fulfilling love for the first time in her life with her husband and her baby.
Your situation and remedies probably won’t be the same as Betty’s. You’ll need to ferret out your specific beliefs, emotions, and coping strategies. You’ll need to identify the way you resist change, and sabotage your best laid plans. Then you’ll need to make a plan tailored to your exact situation, and create an accountability system. Here’s a good way to begin. Journal the answer to these questions.
- What consequences do you suffer due to lack of balance in your life? List the consequences in these categories: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, relationships.
- What does your Inner Child need so you can be emotionally and physically healthy?
- What does your Inner Nurturing Parent tell you that you should do for health and fulfillment?
- What specific action are you willing to begin to take so you can create more balance in your life?
To receive expert guidance to accelerate your journey to success, please contact me for an appointment. I counsel clients within Georgia in-person and on the phone, and I provide life coaching via Zoom worldwide. Contact me for a complimentary 10-minute get-acquainted phone session.
Benita A. Esposito, MA, LPC, LCMHC. www.EspositoInstitute.com.
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(The client’s name was changed to protect her confidentiality.)