Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to my counselling blog. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links at the top of this page
I recently chanced upon a “list of everything” on the internet. I have to say, I doubt its completeness but nevertheless it’s a valiant attempt at a very daunting task.
Recently I found myself talking to a client about the idea of compiling a list of everything. It wasn’t that he had a lot of time on his hands and that I was trying to find a helpful way to fill it. It was more that I thought it would be an interesting exercise for him to make a list of everything that he did. Working, family time, chores, reading, eating, sleeping – a list of all the different activities that filled his life.
I have suggested this before to clients who say that they have no spare time. For them, writing down everything they do and estimating how long each activity takes can help to identify things they are doing that they might spend less time on – or stop doing altogether. Could they spend less time playing computer games? Do they really need to iron pillow slips? Could they stop work in the evening at 7pm rather than 8pm?
So for these people the list of everything can help them to think about where their time is going, and how they might adjust that. But for the client who sparked this blog off, my idea in getting him to draw up the list was to get him to think about why he chose to do each item on the list. Which things did he do because other people wanted or expected him to – and which did he do for himself?
We all have responsibilities – duties – and many of the things we do are for other people. We run errands for our aged parents or we provide a taxi service for our teenage kids. And some things that might appear to be our choices are sometimes not – or not entirely. Perhaps you became a doctor because your father wanted you to (but you’d really prefer to run a pub) – or you go to the gym because your partner likes you to look good (but it bores you silly).
Some of us would have loads of things on the “do for others” side of the list and much less on the “do for myself”. Others would be the other way round. We tend to label the first sort people as “selfless” and the second as “selfish”. Nice people and nasty people. Good people and bad people. And so we can feel it’s wrong to do things that are for ourselves – because that’s “selfish”.
But we all need to find a balance – it’s good to look after others but we also need to look after ourselves. The balance we need is different for each of us – and it varies at different times of our lives. There are times when we have the time and energy to help others – but there are also times when our first priority should be to look after ourselves. Making the list of everything can help you to look at the balance for you at the moment, and help you to think about whether it would be helpful to change that balance.
And if you’d like to see the original list of everything, you can find it here