In the past 7 months…
How many graphs have you looked at that showed how we can flatten the curve?
How many conversations have you had about ways in which we can honour the capacity of the system?
How many adjustments have you made to your life this year to help flatten the curve?
My guess is MANY.
What if there was a graph that demonstrated YOUR curve?
Each demand on your time and energy would be a “case”, and each available bed would be a unit of your capacity. The fewer beds available (aka the less time and energy you have), the more daunting each case becomes. The more important it becomes to make some meaningful changes before there are no beds left and shit REALLY starts to hit the fan. (Aka you suddenly have the shortest temper around, your health suffers, your relationships are fraught with conflict, and you CAN’T EVEN.)
This year has forced us to start talking about capacity. This year has led us all to have many conversations about it, and to consider it from all angles. As we’ve become more educated about the capacity of the health care system, this year has also brought the truth about our personal capacity into clear view.
Here’s the thing.
Capitalism tells us to prioritize perpetual growth at all costs. Our culture glorifies people who have seemingly endless capacity – whether it be for paid work, care-giving, or enduring life’s challenges. We humans love a good story about being limitless.
Transcending limits is exciting, isn’t it? Moving beyond what we thought was possible is inspiring! Persevering in the face of adversity is admirable.
But while we were all going about our lives, trying to transcend our own limitations, there was something we weren’t talking about: capacity.
When it comes to our ability to break through obstacles, it’s only natural to have limited capacity. In particular, many people can amp themselves up for short term sacrifice in the name of achieving a meaningful milestone or overcome a challenge.
But what happens when there’s no finish line?
What happens when it just keeps going?
What happens when you’re ticking along in life and then the great pile-on of 2020 begins?
My guess is that you get a crash course in understanding your capacity QUITE clearly.
The thing about your capacity is that you can’t really argue with it. You can tell yourself it doesn’t exist. You can try to ignore it. You can keep on trucking. But eventually? You’ll hit a wall.
And when that strikes, chances are you’ll need boat loads of recovery time. It’ll be too late for small adjustments. They simply won’t cut it anymore. You’ll need BIG changes to right your ship.
We’ve been talking about flattening the curve for months. We’ve been warned about that tipping point where demand exceeds capacity. We know that’s when shit gets really real. The same is true for our own lives.
In a world that glorifies having endless capacity, we’ve become disconnected from our ability to read the signs that tell us our personal tipping point is coming. Instead, we internalize this belief that says we’re less worthy if we have limits. We believe it’s a character flaw if we can’t keep up – even when it’s clear that the demands are unreasonable. Somehow we’re supposed to make it work anyway.
I hear this from many of my clients. Maybe you can relate.
The rational part of their mind understands that they deserve to rest and have boundaries. But another part of their mind keeps beating that drum. “Do more! Just finish the thing. Do it all, then you can rest. You should be able to handle this.”
But in the meantime? They’re depleted. Anxious. Dipping in a depressive direction. Health issues are flaring.
I think it’s time to start brainstorming some alternatives. I know you’re likely too tired to brainstorm, so I’ll get us started. 💜
I believe that 5 skills that we need to practice these days in order to have some sense of personal sustainability. To flatten OUR curves, if you will.
- Self-awareness when it comes to knowing and naming our capacity.
- Self-compassion and non-judgment about having limits on our capacity.
- Getting comfortable saying “no” without guilt.
- Making room for and insisting upon doing that which gives us life (that we still have access to) so we can keep doing this thing and showing up for our loved ones and the world.
- Getting comfortable asking for and receiving help. It takes a village, doesn’t it? Perhaps now more than ever.
As I explore this topic, I’m pondering some big Q’s, like…
What if a sustainable life could be a beautiful life?
What if embracing our humanity could be celebrated?
What if we could all decide to value rest and recovery and wellbeing more than productivity and performance?
What would that be like?
And on a personal level, I’d love to know…
How do you know when you’re nearing the edges of your capacity?
What are your early warning signs?
What tasks or responsibilities feel like they’re getting a little too spicy for your taste these days?
What could you let go of to give yourself a little more room?
How might you flatten YOUR curve?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
And if you’d like to have an honest conversation about your capacity & how you can start to honour it, I’m here. Empathy is my superpower, and I’d love to explore with you. Sign up for your free Self-Care Strategy Session here.
If this is resonating with you, you might also like to check out my upcoming mind-body workshop, Cultivating Capacity coming up on Monday, November 16th, 2020.