I’m in the middle of running a test group through a new course I’ve designed for women who are tired. Exhausted. Drained. Ain’t got nothing left to give. (Do you get the idea?)
I know, it’s a bit odd for a relationship coach to be focusing on helping people feel less tired, right? Yep! And, for lots of women, it is a significant enough feeling that it keeps them from dating. They either don’t have the energy to date at all, or the idea of dating/dealing with a man makes them feel like babysitters – which, let’s face it, is exhausting!
Yesterday, a woman testing the the course told me that one of the exercises showed her that all the things she does for other people that drain her energy involve emotional labor. It made me giddy. Giddy, because I knew all the things that were draining her energy could stop being things that drained her energy!
Here’s the thing: if you’ve heard anything about emotional labor, you’ve probably jumped out of your seat and cheered, “Omigod, someone finally gets it!” (Emotional labor is loosely defined as a concept that women largely carry a load of tasks and mental energy that goes unrecognized in the world, contributing to homes and workplaces in ways that aren’t seen.)
And, here’s the other thing: every bit of emotional labor you’re doing, you chose to do.
Emotional labor is a glamorized version of making yourself a victim. It feels like someone is forcing you to do this thing that you don’t really want to do.
Who’s going to keep the calendar? Who’s going to throw the office birthday parties? Who will know when it’s time to get school supplies for the kids?
Guess what? If it’s really necessary, someone will figure it out. And it doesn’t have to be you.
The hidden rub of doing emotional labor.
Chances are good that some (many?) of the things you’re doing that fall into the emotional labor camp are actually things you want to be doing. Chances are also good that you want to be recognized for them. This is why, when we don’t get recognized for them, we cry wolf and act as if people have put this expectation on us and it’s not fair. (That’s so much easier than owning that we just spent a whole lot of time and energy on something that people don’t give much of a shit about.)
What happens when you give up doing emotional labor?
You don’t feel like you owe anyone anything. You get to do for the love of doing. You feel free to say no. You don’t have to pick up or juggle every ball that you see.
There may be some conflict initially, as people try to keep you in the box that you’ve been living in, and that’s ok. Consider it a solid exercise in articulating your boundaries and your worth. It’s your life – no one else gets to decide how you live it but you.
The apparent downsides of giving up emotional labor (that aren’t actually downsides at all).
- You have 100% agency about how you choose to invest your time and energy. Always.
- You have to accept that your way of doing things is not the ONLY way to do things. The other ways can be right as well.
- If you choose to take on tasks, you get to find the joy in doing them purely for the joy of doing them – not for what it gets you in return. (This is an amazing gift.)
- You get to experience your worth not being wrapped up in what you do or don’t do for others. Also, an incredible gift.
- Since this is no longer a quid pro quo situation, you get to learn how to ask for what you need and want in a more direct way.
Here’s what I know for sure. As a woman who used to do ALL.THE.EMOTIONAL.LABOR – and harbored a ton of resentment about it – but is now a woman who does none, there are ways to shift the levels of fatigue and exhaustion you feel in your life that have nothing to do with sleep or diet or exercise.
If you’ve been staying away from dating and relationships because the thought of it just makes you feel tired, chances are good it’s you taking on thing that just aren’t yours to carry.
Want to start to see how you can get back some of your energy so that life is more fun and less laden with things to take care of? Go here to book a completely complimentary, no-strings-attached, 90-minute call with me, and we’ll dive right in.