Flaking Out Is Not Self-Care
To be perfectly clear, I’m saying this to myself as much as I am to anyone else. We teach what we need to learn, and all that. But, sweetheart, really:
Flaking out is not self-care.
- Even if you’re doing it because you need to rest.
- Even if you’re overcommitted and taking something off your plate seems right.
- Even if the thing or person you’re flaking on is taxing.
- Even if you feel totally crappy.
Okay, sometimes bailing at the last minute is self-care and it can’t be avoided. Sometimes that is true. And yet: sometimes, it’s just being unreliable. Sometimes, it’s setting ourselves up to fall short. Sometimes, it’s not honoring reality.
I say this with love, because it’s not doing anyone any favors. And because I want to live in a world where we all feel cared for and free.
Flaking out is not freedom either.
I have been there. I promise. (I’m still there sometimes). I put too many things on my plate and then bailed when it all felt like too much. It sucked; I am really committed to not doing this anymore. I’m committing to being reliable and honoring my word. Not because I don’t value my self-care, but because I do. When I put something on my plate that doesn’t belong there, that’s when the trouble starts. You see, I’m also committed to honoring myself.
My self-care needs to begin before I commit to anything.
It is an act of self-care to look at my schedule and see if a new project really belongs there. If there isn’t space, it is destructive for me to shoehorn it in. It’s not about only putting good things in my schedule. It’s about acknowledging what I have capacity for, and then not adding more (no matter how tempting).
And later, when I’m feeling overwhelmed and terrible because I have too many things on my plate? It’s past the time for care. At that point, flaking isn’t self-care. It’s triage.
Triage is no way to live.
Being pulled in too many directions robs us of the joy of being present, of savoring what is in front of us, of showing up as our best selves. What I choose instead is Sacred Focus. Doing less, intentionally. Saying no, a lot. Going to sleep by 10pm (yep, even on weekends). Scheduling time just with myself. Choosing not to fill up every moment.
A spacious schedule feels like care. Overwhelm doesn’t.
I say this with deep affection for you, and recognition of my own tendency:
The time for flaking has come and gone.
I wanted to be someone reliable and to stop flaking – and I’m proud of making that happen.
It’s is time that we commit to only what we truly have space for — and then devote ourselves to it wholeheartedly. We need to look at what our commitments actually take: the planning, recovery time, homework, mental space, emotional work. We need to do a real accounting of what it takes to do things well.
Give yourself some time — real space and quiet — to honestly look at your current commitments. See what’s working, what isn’t. Notice what makes you light up, and what feels like a grind. Flakiness has a much kinder sister and her name is Integrity.
You can stop flaking and start hanging out with integrity.
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Integrity walks with us when we do what we say we’ll do. When we stop flaking: when we willingly show up for our commitments, not just in work, but in our families, friendships and communities. Integrity guards our care fiercely. She lets us hold our heads high because we met our commitments with eager joy.
And the result of all of giving up flaking? We feel better. We say yes to the things we actually want. We say no to what doesn’t light us up. We don’t feel the crappy-ness of flaking out and being out of integrity.