“The Life Changing Magic…”

I went through the self-help book craze awhile ago, like in my forties. Then a couple weeks ago a friend posted this title on her FB page.

It is a very irreverent look at how good, responsible people get so caught up in other peoples’ perceived obligations (to those other people), that their own lives are shunted to the side, or worse, lost altogether.

Read an excerpt

I have been feelng under-water with my life. The past 18 months have been wrapped up in parental care and the bureaucracy that follows death. One of the tasks is to sell my parent’s home to ensure funds for mom’s care.

I am one of three kids. Like so many parents did, they tagged each of us with what they thought was our dominate trait. The Smart One, The Funny One and The Responsible One.

Guess which one I am?

I didn’t actually appreciate having to clean out a large house (filled a 5 ton dumpster) or manage mom’s care with only my husband to help. I did however get a lot of neat excuses.

“It’s not possible” to the request to come home and help me move mom.

“oh dear” to the night I spent in the ER with mom

“…..” That’s a zero response after I called out The Funny One on his promises, that he didn’t keep – to mom, not to me.

I read the book for the laughs. But guess what? I actually found some useful information including a flow chart and several diagrams.

THANK YOU SARAH! I keep this in my purse.

What it boils down to, is you only have so many cares (replace with F word) to give in a day – or a lifetime. Those cares represent time, money and emotions.

Think about that. How much emotion or time or money can you give to other people’s stuff? It depends right? And how guilty should you feel when you say no? Answer: You should never feel guilty about saying “no.” But we do. I do.

So it is all about prioritizing what YOU can afford to care about.

This was the value for me: I found a way to draw a line in the sand, without equivocation or backing down. Did I still have to do all the work myself? Yes. Did I have to roll over be nice about it? No. I wasn’t an asshole about it, although The Funny One didn’t think so, but The Funny One is the one with his crap still in the house-that-is-listed-for-sale.

Is this related to shamanism? Yes, in the sense that we all have to reclaim our personal power before we can attempt to help others. Yes, because I have ALWAYS had problems with boundaries and it ended up either with shame (“good girls are not selfish. You are selfish for not doing as I ask”) or with me in a simmering passive/aggressive mode.

And I don’t like either behavior.

So, New Year, new attitude.