We would like to introduce our new self-care columnist, Drea Smith - she will be taking questions from our community and giving them holistic advice on health & wellness. A musician, empath and vibe dealer living in Chicago, Drea enjoys reading tarot, feeling balanced (she’s a true Libra) and talking to everyone who crosses her path. Feeling like your life is a tad out of whack and need some advice on how to handle? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org!
The Empty Gas Tank
Dear Vibe Dealer,
I feel like my friends take advantage of my kindness. I know it’s weird to put it that way, but I think I may have boundary issues. When my friends have issues, I’m the first person they call, before they even try to figure it out on their own. I just don’t know how to say no, even when I have things to do. Help! I’m having a hard time telling which friends are real.
• Boundary Issues
Peace Boundary Issues,
First off let me congratulate you on being a kind soul! There’s nothing wrong with being a person who would do anything for the people they love. The worst thing you can do is remedy this by becoming shut-off and guarded. There are ways to work on this without becoming afraid of friendships. We all need human contact to thrive, but to balance that need, we have to learn how to set boundaries.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say you just pulled a double at your job across town. On the way home you notice your tank is on E, gaslight on and everything. You say to yourself “I’m in for the night, payday isn’t until Friday, and it’s Wednesday.” Plus, you’re exhausted and you’ve been on your feet all day. Your friend hits you up as you pull into your parking spot. She says it’s an emergency. The dress she purchased at a boutique near your apartment doesn’t fit and she needs to exchange it for a smaller size. She lives by your gig. She wants you to come pick her up. This friend never has gas money and Uber is a foreign word to her. Would you try to pick her up on an empty tank?
Think of yourself as if you were the car. An elder told me once “you can’t pick nobody up if you ain’t got gas in the car.” In other words, you can’t be there for people if you don’t take care of self first. You seem like a highly empathetic person and you should find strength in that because like I said before, loving others is a beautiful thing. But your own self care shouldn’t be last on your list. It’s so easy to get caught up in the things our loved ones need and neglect ourselves.
I like to have what I call “business hours,” the time I allot myself to be there for others. That may sound selfish, but there’s nothing wrong with being unavailable to others when you need to be available to yourself. Let your friends know you have things you must tend to. Take time for solitude, and take time to reflect and meditate, exercise and make food for just you. Fill up your time with loving yourself. Be okay with being alone. Start valuing your time, because your time is more valuable than anything. People will begin to understand when you let them know you have things to do. If they don’t, you may need to reevaluate how necessary they are to your life. Self preservation is key. Real friends who truly love you understand that. Weed out the ones who don’t.
Think about the cons of picking up a friend on an empty tank. They’re very similar to taking on the issues of others when you’re not equipped to deal with issues of yourself. Your well of empathy could run dry, which makes it hard to truly be there for another person. You could be there but not mentally available, which results in two anxious and frustrated people. Or you can show up, and become jaded when your efforts aren’t reciprocated.
Before any and all trips, it’s best to fill up the tank.
Love + Light,
drea the vibe dealer