Margin. The possession of space in your mind, body, and spirit to take on life’s challenges and choices. For many people, especially the past year, margin has been in short supply.
Many times, we find ourselves pushed to the edge and beyond it emotionally and mentally, and yes physically. Pushed by those who expect us to help them or in some cases enable them to solve or avoid their own problems. Children who come with presenting issues that they make seem like life or death and they expect us to solve them immediately. Bosses who bring their own stress to our desks and expect us to somehow make it better immediately. Significant others who expect us to make their lives easier immediately.
If we have no margin, we respond out of our own overload. Sometimes, our responses include a turmoil of emotions and even words that can be regretted later. Sometimes, we do it quietly and with complicity, holding in our own turmoil. The silently seething. Sometimes, we respond and respond and respond for others leaving nothing for ourselves but exhaustion and bitterness.
We can feel driven that our function our need is to always do for others. To make sure that other people are happy and that we do not rock any boats along the way. We keep the peace. We serve others completely.
We can feel that to be valued we must be seen to be involved in everything. We take on extra work responsibilities. We are in the PTA and every other school activity with our kids. We never say no to anything or anyone.
When asked for a response or to “fix” things for someone else, we do not hesitate no matter how tired and emotionally drained we feel. We continue to draw from a well with no reserves.
How do we move towards margin? We have to pause before responding. We have to breathe and examine why we are responding or why we feel we must respond. We have to know who our response is serving. We have to recognize our well is dry.
If the request that is being made of us or that we are creating for ourselves is not life or death, it does not require an immediate response. We can pause, breathe, ponder, choose and THEN do.
All of this has to be communicated to those requesting that we respond. If your child comes to you and exclaims that they need answer right now, request time to gather your thoughts, examine your response choices, breathe, and that you will respond to them after this is done.
You will receive push back from others and from yourself feeling that you must immediately respond. It is not necessary.
You must also find time for yourself. For your own self-care. For your own mental, spiritual, and physical health. Margin requires constant tending to remain accessible and to keep you from exhaustion and for not making sure you are serving yourself.
Are you moving towards margin?
Until next time be well,