Stop the programmed orbit: you matter too

Someone at my yoga class who is also a health professional said to me “we’re all so tired at my work. Every year it’s like this, we just really need that end of year leave”.

It got me thinking about how many of us are tired at the end of the year.

How many of us only get by because we can see our end of year or summer leave coming?

What would it be like if we were able to prioritise our needs as well client and other people in our lives needs? Would we be this tired?

I think it could look quite different.

The unprecedented level of demand resulting from a pandemic has highlighted how difficult many therapists find it to say no.

I sometimes hear of therapists working 12 hours a day. But where is the room for their needs in all of that?

Many therapists joke that it is their subjugation or self-sacrifice schema or call these behaviours the lighter and less dangerous sounding “people-pleasing mode”.

Another common culprit is enmeshment/ underdeveloped self schema. When you have the enmeshment/ underdeveloped self schema you have been programmed to meet the needs of others so that they feel ok and happy.

This means that when people approach you for help (or even if they don’t but you just manage to get a hint of some kind of need), you will start to orbit like a satellite around that person’s need. What do I need to do for them to be ok? What do I need for them to feel ok?

There is almost no space for your needs when you are operating from an enmeshment schema. It is one of the key schemas involved in therapists overworking both in and outside of the therapy room.

The problem with this orbiting pattern and ignoring your own needs is that you feel exhausted. You lose energy. You stop feeling anything. You keep orbiting because you don’t know how to stop.

You may even find yourself saying. I just can’t. I feel empty. I feel broken.

The depletion that comes from not meeting your own needs can be like your light going out. Maybe the light will go out temporarily. Sometimes it will go out for a long time.

Sometimes the light for being a therapist is permanently extinguished. Some people decide its the job, not the schema led pattern that is the problem and leave to do things where there is less need to care for other humans. This can sometimes be a wise decision, but the orbit pattern will usually still be present in your life elsewhere. It’s rare to only find it at work.

Don’t let your light go out.

You deserve to have space and time for your feelings and needs. You deserve to learn to meet those needs and stop the automatic orbit pattern.

Learn how saying no to keep balance is really about saying yes to your needs. There is no need to deprive yourself any longer.

Working on ways to do that and keep your light burning strong is worth it.

You are worth it.

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