Our speedy, success-oriented culture pressures us to work faster, harder, better. This is troublesome for many, but it’s particularly tough for those who are pleasers. Why? Because pleasers are inclined to say “yes” to so much. Add on the cultural command to do, do, do, and life can easily spin out of control. Though others may think of you as a workaholic, the dizzying array of tasks you take on may not be because you can’t stop working but because it’s tough for you to say “no” to others.
Though many media stories try to convince you that you can have it all and do it all, you can’t! Attempt to do too much and soon you’ll be operating on overload. To understand what that means, think about what occurs when an electrical circuit is overloaded.
You’re working hard trying to get a report done. Suddenly, you’re in total darkness; the circuit breaker has popped. No lights, no charger, no desktop, no printer, no microwave, no A/C, no TV, no nothing. What do you do? You search for the popped breaker on the electric panel. You flip the breaker back on, then return to doing your stuff. You’ve just settled in when pop, you’re in total darkness again. Damn! You realize you forgot to turn off a few devices before returning to work.
Frustrated, you think, what a pain this circuit breaker is. But then you remember what it’s designed to do. It’s a safety device, protecting you from fire that would have occurred if you continued to operate on overload. Suddenly it becomes obvious that you too need to make a change. Your harried, pressured, stressed life means you’re operating on overload. If you didn’t have so much to do, you wouldn’t be so stressed about getting the report finished. If you weren’t so stressed about getting the report finished, you wouldn’t be so nervous about company coming. If you weren’t so nervous about company coming, you wouldn’t be so upset with your spouse’s reprimand. If you weren’t so upset with your spouse’s reprimand, you wouldn’t have this pounding headache! Get the picture?
Too bad circuit breakers aren’t built into your system to alert you of an impending overload. Or, are they?
- Isn’t chronic stress a way your body is telling you, “Stop! You’re damaging me. Treat me better or I won’t function well!”
- Isn’t chronic worrying a way your mind is telling you, “Stop! You can’t continue to live this way; I need a break!”
- Isn’t chronic pressure a way your relationships are telling you, “Stop! You’re trying too hard to please everybody. Just relax and be yourself!”
Warning signals, like circuit breakers, are designed to protect you from harm. If you don’t ease up on yourself, you can do serious damage to your mind, body and relationships. I hope you’re wise enough not to let that happen.
But how do you ease up on yourself when you’ve got so much to do? Here are a few ideas:
- Eliminate: Yes, you can eliminate some stuff from your to-do list. Truly you can.
- Delegate: Think about whom you can delegate work to or share work with. Before you say “nobody,” think again.
- Consolidate: Put time into planning how to combine several tasks into one so that what you do takes less time and less energy.
- Know when to say “no.” Of course, you don’t want to say “no” to others all the time. But there are times saying “no” will reap unexpected benefits. Not only will you have less to do, but others will be more appreciative when you do say “yes.”
If, in this busy world of ours, you frequently find yourself feeling frazzled and frenzied, it’s imperative that you chill out before you burn out.