Welcome to Day 10 of #write31days!
For more information check out the series’ page.
We all have our shares of fights in life.
We fight with our parents, our spouses, our children, our friends, our colleages. And we all know (or should know) how to solve these conflicts.
We can move out from home, we can break up relationships, we can stop talking to a friend, we can change jobs.
But the one person we can’t get away from is ourselves. As long as we live it is our challenge and responsibility to get to know ourselves, benefit from the strengths, and accept the weaknesses. This ‘getting to know yourself’ process can be hard and there are a few traps we can fall into.
The Helper Syndrome
I have a friend who is sick. Whenever we meet up she only complains about her stressful life. Too little sleep, too little time for herself, too much work to do. When I ask her about her day or why she is so busy it always comes down to the same thing: she can’t get her own things done because she is too busy with other people. Some call this the ‘Helper Syndrome’. Of course we all appreciate a friend who helps us when we’re in need. Of course we want to be there for others and help out. That is perfectly okay. Sometimes. There is a fine line between being a friend and losing yourself, and people with the ‘Helper Syndrome’ tend to overstep it. They take care of other people’s business, tasks, emotions, even lives, so much that they can’t take care of themselves anymore.
People who don’t ‘suffer from the Helper Syndrome’ often appear to be super relaxed and easy-going. Unless they drift into the other extreme, I call them ‘crowdsurfers’. Instead of doing the work themselves they rely on others. Instead of taking care of themselves they cry for help. All. the. time. One obvious example might be a student in his mid-twenties who can’t cook a meal, doesn’t know how to clean the kitchen, and has to call his mom to wash his clothes. Yes, I have seen examples of this species in real life. Being an adult means separation from your home to a certain extent. Being grown-up means taking care of yourself, falling down sometimes with no one else to blame but yourself.
Sometimes when I talk to my sister on the phone I complain about the many things I still have to do. And sometimes she says, “Come on, be honest. You love to have a good amount of stress in your life!”
Psychologists distinguish two kinds of stress, the good and the bad one. We need a certain level of motivation and adrenaline that keeps us going. Positive stress pushes us to grow and do good things, work builds our confidence. Negative stress, however, destroys our energy, our creativity, our self-worth. If we look at ourselves and the people around us, it becomes shockingly obviously that we give in to negative stress far too often. We are not inspired, we are just runners. We keep on going and working for all kinds of wrong reasons: more money, a promotion, the feeling of missing something important, the fear of losing our value when we reveal our weaknesses…
The more we give in to negative stress the more we become deaf to our body’s needs.
Sleep? Overrated, I can do with four hours a night.
Food? Not too much, I don’t have time to eat and you get fat anyway.
Holidays? I wish…
We’re afraid to listen, really listen, and then take action. Let the work be work, enjoy a meal instead of gulping it down, ask others for help to get back on track. Often it doesn’t take much to make a big difference for our soul life.
We can talk a lot to others about setting boundaries, taking things slow, or living intentionally. But before that we need to live it ourselves. Our body is our closest friend and our toughest enemy. Let’s take it serious.
Take an honest look at yourself: Are you a helper, a crowdsurfer, or a runner?
Do you have too much negative stress in your life? What could you change?