Have you ever observed the all you can eat buffet?
People go to the all you can eat buffet for sport and they’re not messing around. It is game on when they arrive at the buffet. The problem is, a lot of times our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, like our mothers told us when we were little.
Let’s say someone invites you to a party this Saturday night. You kind of wanted to lay low, but you didn’t want to be rude so you said yes. You’ve just piled something on your plate. Then someone asks you to volunteer for a group they’re putting together and you really like this person and even though it doesn’t really fit in your schedule and you don’t really have time to volunteer now, you say yes, because how could you say no to volunteering when they specifically asked you. So you pile it on your plate. Next someone asks if you’ll do them a favor and house sit while they’re gone. You’ll have to drive clear across town, but you don’t want to leave them in a pinch, so you say yes. The next day friends ask you to help them move. Normally you’d be fine with that, but you have a full day as it is and you’re going to have to drive across town to do it. You won’t even have time to change into your scrubby clothes, but you say yes, because that’s what friends are for. Finally, someone asks you to stay late at work, because everyone else has gone home early and this deadline has to be met. Well, of course, you’re not going to say no to that. So you pile on more.
Before you know it your plate gets so big that you can’t possibly digest all of it! We digest our experiences just like we digest our food, and we have a certain capacity at which we can do that.
Remember the movie European Vacation, when the daughter is just eating and eating and she’s exploding because she’s putting in more than she’s taking out. That’s why we’re only supposed to take in as much calories as we burn so that there’s an equal exchange of energy running through us. It’s the same when we say yes to all these things in life.
Why do we say yes all the time? Look at it in your own life. Is it because you want to be liked? Is it because you think that’s what you’re supposed to do, what you should do? Did you know that the word should is very guilt and shame provoking? We don’t even speak that word in my house. There is no should. Do you do it because you feel like the world will fall apart if you don’t do it?
Some of us don’t trust the Divine force so we think that we just have to do everything and manage everything. Otherwise things will all just blow up to smithereens. It’s not true. There’s a much bigger, bigger universe around you, and everyone participates, not just you.
What you can do for yourself and others is to fill your plate only with the activities that you need, with only the activities that sustain you, that nourish you, that help you feel good and strong. Then you’re giving from a whole and hearty place. You are not depleted. You are not sick. You have limits. You have boundaries, and you will know that this is your birthright.
You are entitled to take care of yourself. You are not here to take care of everyone else. You are here to take care of you, and as you do that you’ll give in ways that fit in your life and in ways that feel nourishing to you.
Take a look at how much you pile on your plate. Is it an all-you-can-eat buffet, or is it just the right amount?
Heather Hans, LCSW, MSW, MBA, CPIC, is a Visionary, Healer & Teacher, and the author of The Heart of Self-Love: How to Radiate with Confidence. It is Heather's firm belief that loving oneself is necessary to have fulfilling relationships and a successful life.