Have you ever put work into a relationship thinking, “I’m putting in so much, I’ve gotta be racking up some excellent relationship karma points. I’m bound to get some of this coming back around to me!”
Maybe you’ve gotten upset that you’re not getting the same level of support in return, or you’re not being appreciated, or not even being given credit for all that you do. Does this sound familiar?
And when this happens, do you feel frustrated, hurt, and depleted?
This might be counter intuitive, but I invite you to think about whether you’re showing up in the relationship from your best self. This is what we’re exploring today.
Is it possible that you have another thing activated within that exchange getting in the way of the relationship you long for?
Are you overextending yourself thinking that this is an investment and expecting a return on your investment – be it your energy, time, emotional, physical or financial support?
To further describe what I mean by overextending…
Are you taking away valuable resources from yourself to do for or give to someone else?
*Note: A key that the answer is “yes,” is that you feel depleted afterwards.
Have you ever done something because someone expects it from you, or because it will make you look good in their eyes?
An Alternative to Overextending Yourself
What if you only do things purely from the heart – meaning only because it feels good to do the thing for the pure joy of doing it. You’re not giving anything up, you’re just giving from the overflow of resources that you have available.
But, when you need “me time,” you take it. When you need to lighten your load because you’re having a difficult day, you take space for yourself. And when you don’t have the energy to make dinner, you have someone else cook or pick something up.
What if instead you recognize and take care of your own needs?
Because, this way, there’s no conditions being put on the act. You’re not doing the thing with an expectation of getting something back, whether it’s credit, appreciation, the way you’re viewed, etc.
When you show up this way, you show up as a full being, filling your own cup and fulfilling your own needs.
So, if you’re noticing that you need more appreciation than what you’re getting, consider it an indication that you need to appreciate yourself more and then take the space and time to do it.
Maybe treat yourself to dinner, a little pampering, an extra vacation day, or whatever that looks like for you.
This way, you’re giving the thing you crave to yourself while standing in your power to meet your own needs. Thus, ensuring that you have a richly satisfying life.
You’re no longer looking for somebody else to do these things for you or to fulfill that craving. Instead, any affirmation you receive from someone else is now just a bonus rather than a requirement or a necessity.
You’re not looking for someone else to fill a void within you or within your life.
Cleaning Up Your Relationship Energy
This is so empowering!
When you’re giving to others from a place that feels good and you’re not expecting anything in return, there’s more clarity in your actions.
You’re showing up for that relationship with a cleaner energy.
And it makes an enormous difference in the exchange of that relationship. Because the energy, whether you realize it or not, that energy is perceived – the unsaid expectation, the unsaid pressure, the unsaid tension.
How Overextending Yourself Makes Your Partner and Stepchild Feel
The person is most likely feeling it and thinking, “I’m not asking you to do this, you’re doing this on your own. Why are you putting this expectation on me?” And it causes frustration, a disconnect, a rift.
If they are a child, they might not even recognize what’s going on. And yet, they might still be feeling resentment from it.
Even if they’re not a child, they might still be struggling to completely identify it, but still get a bad taste in their mouth, even though they’re not sure what it’s about.
Because everyone feels energy, whether you are aware of it consciously or not. It leaves a mark. It leaves an imprint. And you might not realize just how much this is showing up in your relationships.
How You Feel in Your Relationships as the Overextended Stepparent
When you overextend yourself, you might be feeling like someone is…
- being needy
- being ungrateful
- taking advantage of you
Maybe you’re upset at them for not returning the favor.
In reality, there’s a chance you’re creating this pattern for yourself and encouraging their demanding behavior.
You might not realize that you are teaching them to expect things from you without considering and enforcing your own boundaries.
- when you’ve had an exhausting day of putting out fires, you get home 2 hours late from work feeling totally wiped out. You don’t have it in you to pick up the groceries like you normally do, but you begrudgingly do it anyway
- when you got in a terrible fight with your best friend and you’ve been ugly crying for hours. You lack the strength to peel yourself off the couch to pick up your stepchild from basketball practice, but fried and sour you do it anyway
- when you feel like you’re coming down with a cold and you know your body just needs a hot bath and to get to bed early. You can’t make dinner and your stepchild’s lunch like always do, but resentfully, you do it anyway.
How the Energy of Overextending Impacts Your Stepchild
Remember, kids are young. They are still developing, trying to make sense of the world and find their place in it. They don’t need your crap on top of it.
Recognize that there’s a good chance that they are responding to your energy. A lot of times kids are perceptive and are responding to what is around them. So, if you don’t like what you’re receiving from them change what you’re putting out towards them.
Afterall, they’re largely getting programmed by the energy around them.
How to Deal with the Overextended Stepparent Syndrome
You get to have a choice.
You can look at this like, “Argh, it’s so hard and I don’t want to deal with it. I don’t want to do it,” and you can be frustrated about it and most likely remain unfulfilled.
Or you can recognize the immense power that comes with this choice for both of you. And you can choose to clean up your energy by making it a priority to meet your own needs.
You have an opportunity to impact the way your stepchild is going to respond to life through modeling one of these behaviors. Which one are you going to teach them?
Most likely, your stepchild needs you. Because, as you already know, if you’ve been listening to this podcast, I don’t believe in accidents. I believe that everything happens on purpose and is happening for us. There’s almost always an opportunity for a lesson or growth.
Yes, even when things feel challenging, I believe most times, there’s a silver lining or a valuable lesson to be gained about ourselves. For instance seeing how strong and capable we are, or gaining a more nuanced understanding about relationships and how to navigate them.
So now, I invite you to reflect carefully on what will be your next move.
Because, the relationships you crave, start with saying “yes” to yourself.
If you found this episode helpful, please share it with a friend, colleague, or your book club.
And if you’re ready to say “yes” to you but don’t know how to start, head over to synergisticstepparenting.com/work and book your clarity call. I’d love to help you identify your next best step to start moving towards a more joyous and harmonious family dynamic!
Until next time, be well.
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