Jennifer Pinkerton LCSW, LCDC, Certified Therapist in EMDR
People often ask me how I do it all. I am a wife, the mother of four boys, a full-time employee, a citizen who serves on various boards and committees, and a woman who continues to increase her knowledge, adding to her toolbox as a mental health therapist.
I answer them with a straight face, saying, “It’s simple. I don’t.”
I struggled to balance my family, work, and passions while addressing multiple demands of “Can you help me with this?” and “Can you work on that?” until I learned to openly and honestly use one simple word: No.
Learning to say no with compassion allowed me to set and follow the boundaries necessary to put self-care first. I began to prioritize my time and put things in perspective regarding who or what needed my attention first and foremost. These practices enabled me to become a better version of myself.
I’ll be honest; I am not always great at it.
I stumble, fall, and get off track. I am emotionally reactive at times, but I realize that is all part of how I learn to refocus and see things from different perspectives.
Modern society offers many challenging and various roles to women that allow for empowerment and success. These opportunities also directly correlate to an increased amount of stress to women’s mental health. As women desire to achieve more socially, economically, politically, culturally, and individually, our mental health rests on managing a multitude of commitments that occur during the various stages of our lives.
In particular, this year has provided a more significant challenge in finding that balance, with the need for creativity in how we define our self-care routines. Our “normal” has changed with the new rules of wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and limiting the places we visit where we once moved about freely. The routines that would usually bring us back to a sense of homeostasis and renewed energy keep shifting, and we are forced to find new ways to keep moving forward.
I work with a vulnerable population, those who suffer from the disease of addiction.
More often than not, my clients have co-occurring mental health issues such as trauma, depression, and anxiety. Working with these amazing human beings and their families requires modeling the behaviors I want them to learn. This approach starts with teaching them about self-care and setting boundaries by focusing on the “H.O.W.”
H.O.W. is an acronym for being honest and open-minded while also having willingness.
Being honest with myself and my limitations allows me to be authentic and genuine. Being honest means telling others, “No, I am not able to give my time right now,” or “I need to focus my attention elsewhere.” Being honest allows me to have that inner self-talk that says, “I am worthy of putting myself first.”
Honesty goes hand in hand with being open-minded.
I have to be open-minded to new opportunities and actively listen and apply the feedback I receive from others, which is sometimes easier to teach than to follow. I find that receiving feedback from the ones we are closest to can be the hardest to hear, but these are the ones we need to listen to the closest. Open-mindedness allows me to hear their feedback as helpful, sending me the message that I am cared for rather than criticized for getting off balance.
Open-mindedness leads me to willingness.
As I strive to remain honest and open-minded, I can only change if I also have the capacity for willingness. Practicing the willingness to take steps moving forward while allowing stumbles and falls along the way will no longer keep me down.
As a young girl, I felt it a challenge to take on the expression, “Women can’t have it all.” As a successful and fulfilled wife, mom, employee, and woman, I have learned to redefine “having it all” to “doing all I need.”
I embrace the chaos of my life; it is how I continue to grow.
I encourage each of you to embrace yours and turn it into the beautiful masterpiece that is your life. “Embracing chaos might be the journey we take to finding peace.”- Rachel Hollis from her book, “Girl, Wash Your Face.”
Hannah’s House is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 844.321.1003.