Mine And Not Mine
Thursday, July 31, 2014
A friend, who is a mental health professional, and I were discussing the effect of taking on the responsibility for things that don't belong to you. I was saying how exhausted I am and I listed several things I was doing. She looked puzzled. She then asked me if people had actually asked me to run the errands and perform the tasks that I was doing or if I had just done it to be nice without being asked. It was my turn to look puzzled. She told me that some people exhaust themselves by taking on responsibilities that shouldn't be theirs except on rare occasions. In her practice, she sees many people who do this, especially women.
I had an AhHa moment! This is why many women have to work at putting themselves "at the top of the list." She suggested very gently that I would be much healthier and less tired if I would give the responsibility back to the person who actually owned it. You've got to love friends who tell it like it is and have your back. She suggested that I play a game called "Mine And Not Mine".
"Mine And Not Mine" is an observation game where you try to observe your own behavior in relation to others. You gather information for future analysis to make changes in your own behavior. In the game, you look at the activities you do and decide if they are your responsibility or if they actually belong to someone else. If someone asks you to do something and you agree, that is a special case responsibility. But, if you find that you are filling up your time doing things that nobody asked you to do and they are actually someone else's responsibility, that goes into the "Not Mine" category.
The danger of the "Not Mine" responsibility is you become overloaded, exhausted and taken for granted. If something goes wrong with whatever task you have taken on, it becomes your fault and the person who should be responsible, gets off Scott free. How many of us belong to the group that own the "Not Mine" activities? Ouch! That pinches!
I discovered that I take on many things that other people don't actually ask me to do. In my mind, I actually thought I was just being a nice, helpful person who is eager to please. When it becomes a habit, I am setting myself up for being taken for granted, being called controlling or worse, being abused. All of this is self created. I looked at how I feel after I do this and was shocked at what I found. Many times I felt physical and or emotional pain after exhausting myself by taking on the responsibility for tasks that weren't mine. Doing something nice for someone is an occasional thing. Being a perpetual doormat is different.
How do I cope with the results of exhaustion, physical and emotional pain? Negative self talk at not being perfect and using food to medicate myself instead of using it to nourish my body. This is a really big break through for me. Just by playing the game that my friend suggested, I made some big discoveries. I'm not sure she realized what a big difference the awareness will have on me. On the other hand, since she is a mental health professional, she probably was aware and she did me a huge favor by drawing my attention to it. Now it will be up to me to change what I do and how I do it.
I plan on writing down a plan for myself on a piece of paper. I will change using little steps. It will be easier if I make very small changes at a time. I will quietly and politely stop doing things that others don't even ask me to do. I am aware that it will take time. I didn't establish the pattern over night. The pattern has most likely been one that I have had since childhood. One step at a time I will start taking better care of myself.
Have any of you ever played the "Mine And Not Mine" game?