By Alecia Rice
Q: I waste so much time playing the “middle person” for others. It’s hard enough to manage life without spinning my wheels in circumstances that aren’t mine. Any tips on how I can extricate myself? — Spinning My Wheels
A: Dear Spinning My Wheels,
These shifting times are calling all of us to better manage our energy by making course corrections and figuring out ways to ease what stresses us for peace of mind. It’s imperative to create more time to just BE—to attend to what’s really important—bringing more joy and fulfillment to our lives to compensate for all that feels so unbalanced and topsy-turvy.
Playing the ‘middle person’ can be extraordinarily draining and frustrating. Sometimes we don’t even realize we’re doing it until things pile up and we just can’t take anymore. This realization is the perfect time to rearrange things to extricate ourselves and get back on track. One way to do so is to re-evaluate things in our lives, to figure out where we might be wasting our time and energy so that we can reclaim that space.
Once we figure out where we need to do this, we can begin to shift the responsibilities back to others by rerouting them to each other, refusing to take the bait, and by setting boundaries and keeping them. Allowing them to fill each other in by engaging directly with one another develops their relationship and takes the pressure off of us.
An example of this might be that people connect with you to ask questions about others, instead of going directly to the person in question. If they need to know how someone else is doing, tell them to ask the person directly. If they want to know what size that person wears or what their address is, reroute them. (Unless, of course, it’s a surprise gift that they’re trying to send.)
Women—especially moms—often automatically fill these spaces, which seems harmless at first but adds up collectively to lost time. Encouraging others to go directly to the source fosters closer bonds in those relationships, while helping others to attend to their needs. Reclaiming these spaces frees us up for “me time,” to take that relaxing Epsom salt bath, get to our sewing, or read that book we’ve been wanting to get to.
Don’t feel guilty about making changes. Doing what we’ve always done gets us what we’ve always gotten, and that doesn’t work well when we’re rolling with changes and needing to relieve some pressure.
Q: You speak often about setting boundaries, and I realize that I need to set them. I’ve gotten to the place where I’d like to start trying, but I’m not sure how to start. Can you give me some tips?
— Seeing the Light
A: Dear Seeing the Light,
Healthy relationships require healthy boundaries, as well as a sense of self-respect. Boundary-setting can help us save lots of time and prevent bad feelings. Boundaries are essential to self-care; especially right now, when change is in the air. Some tips are as follows:
1. Observe how you feel and know your limits. Identify what is no longer tolerable in your life. Bad feelings, such as discomfort or resentment, are barometers that point us in the direction where boundaries might be needed. Resentment often arises when we feel disrespected or taken advantage of.
2. Find your voice and communicate clearly. This can be difficult, especially if we haven’t been using our voice, which may have gotten us to a place where we’re feeling resentful. Changing this up can ease the resentment over time because we’re now standing for ourselves.
3. Set boundaries during a state of calm, so they can be heard and received more easily. Doing so during an argument often causes what we say to be ignored and discounted. Approaching with a calm, yet firm voice ensures clearer communication that can be better delivered and received.
4. Practice setting smaller boundaries first. Baby step your way with smaller issues, working your way up to larger, more difficult things as you gain confidence.
5. Make sure to have a plan to reinforce boundaries if they’re not honored. Without any concern of repercussion, there’s no motivation for others to honor what’s been requested.
5. Create a “safe space pact” with someone you trust and are comfortable with for a place to use your voice without fear of negative repercussions. This is the perfect way to practice building that muscle until you have enough courage to do so elsewhere.
Misstepping is natural when we’re learning, so cut yourself some slack for being imperfect and continue on!
Alecia Rice is a Spiritual Alchemist and a personal advisor for those ready to unravel their issues with conscious choices. She offers grounded perspectives for energy management and sage insights in columns, videos, and podcasts. Visit www.AskAlecia.com for more information. Submit personal questions and quandaries to email@example.com.