By Lindy Earl
We all have a lot on our shoulders, from a very young age. We are asked to help with family chores, as we should be. School starts younger than it ever has before and homework can be brutal even in elementary grades. It’s normal to get a job by our mid-teens. Then there is the pressure for some of College, and the probably even worse pressure for some to start their careers and move out and upward.
It’s no wonder the stories we hear, that we shall not discuss here, of horrors and atrocities that happen in the world. We all know them. The point is, if you are overworked, overstressed, under prepared, under trained, then you will eventually break. At work, your break may come in the form of quitting. It may be well thought-out and unemotional, with appropriate time given. In other cases, people just walk away. I understand!
In family life, if things aren’t going well, the break may come in the form of a huge fight that results in siblings not speaking for years, even decades.
In relationships, the break may be a divorce. Even a break up while dating can be catastrophic, even if the break puts an end to bickering and problems.
So is there a way to avoid it? Sure – do not allow yourself to become overstressed or overworked or under prepared. That sounds too simplistic, doesn’t it? In an effort to be more concrete, make yourself notice and be aware of challenges as they arise. The first time you are asked to do something that is questionable, question it.
In my case, it was my second job in DC. Thankfully I had been warned, by some new colleagues who quickly became friends, that my boss would ask me to run personal errands. My boss was not the owner, or even the CEO, of the company. As a starry-eyed 23 year old, I had ethical concerns about what I was warned was coming. Sure enough, after only a few weeks I was given a packet of information and told to perform some banking functions for him – yes, this is before direct deposit. Because I had been warned, I bluffed my way through, saying that I couldn’t do personal errands on company time. He looked shocked, got a little red in the face, and told me to just do it. (This was before Nike’s tag line.) I did it. I was unhappy for several reasons, and they were all about me. I had copped out. I shouldn’t have caved. I should have stood firm. I accepted a lot of stress into my life. I wondered how I would handle it the next time, but it never happened again. Even though he wasn’t happy with my response, my boss honored it, once he got past his surprise.
So one way to avoid stress, and I would have been stressed running his personal errands during work hours, was to make a decision and communicate it. I realize now that I could have gone to him ahead of time and shared that I had been told that he would be asking me to perform such tasks, and to say I didn’t find that appropriate, but I was definitely not that mature at 23 years old.
The best way to avoid an eventual break is to be aware of challenges as they arise. If you have a problem with a sibling, co-worker, or significant other, talk about it! So many challenges can be avoided with honest communication. Oh, yeah, the communication has to be honest. Don’t pretend you’re okay with some idea you consider outlandish.
Say yes and no as appropriate. If there is something you want to do, say so. Plan it. I spent too many years depriving myself of things I wanted to do, which can slowly build resentment. It may not be a big deal at first, but after a while, you may not even realize that it’s irritating you. Share your needs and plan fun things for yourself.
The earlier you learn to say no, nicely but firmly, the happier you will be and the better your relationships. Do not get sucked in by praise, “Nobody throws a party as well as you,” or guilt, “Everybody has had a turn except you.” You don’t even need to offer a reason or excuse. A simple, “No, I’m sorry I can’t,” will suffice.
This may be information you’ve heard before, but now we’re talking about the Why. If you fail to communicate, if you don’t take breaks for yourself, if you agree to do things you’d really rather not do, you will break. The break may be physical – a friend is still suffering from a bad back by being goaded into helping when he shouldn’t have; it may be emotional – I’m a crier and when I find myself teary I know that I’m under too much pressure. It could be mental or psychological and I’m not going there, but I do have friends with these challenges. The point is, nobody can stand under pressure for too long a time without breaking.
Review your life. If you’re finding yourself underappreciated, overworked, or just feeling resentful, do something about it before you break, or your relationship, whether it’s at work or home, breaks. It is far better to fix a relationship, and live in a healthy relationship, before a break happens.
That’s Life After Divorce.
Lindy is a Speaker, Columnist, Author, and Consultant. Contact her at LMEarl@EarlMarketing.com or find her on Face Book. Join her FB support group, Single Again: From Devastation to Dating. You can subscribe to her Life After Divorce Newsletter, for $12/year, at www.LindySpeaks.com.