Life Can Be Overwhelming — Know Your Limits

Tuesday, 25 Oct 2011 10:10 AM

By Dr. Laura

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It is way too easy to get overwhelmed, even by elements in your life you enjoy: family, work, hobbies, community involvement, and even yoga, etc. We tend to often underestimate the impact of multiple investments of our emotions, time, effort, concentration, and energy.

Contrary to anything you've been taught or have heard: human beings do have limits! You definitely cannot give 100 percent to multiple venues without an impending crash. Crashes take on many forms: feeling tired, sad, impatient, or even anger pop-ups.

The main problem as I have experienced with folks coming to me for help is that they simply don't want to admit they are overwhelmed and/or burning out. They seem to see this as a sign of some kind of weakness and feel somewhere between ashamed and frustrated. They simply WANT to be able to do everything.

That passion comes from a fear of a loss of value to others if they can't pull it off. And, it is true that folks in each of your many domains may indeed get annoyed if you don't give them all that they are expecting and you promised. That is absolutely true! And they have the right to feel somewhat let down because in their mini universe, things just have to get done and get done now and correctly. So that fear is right on!

It appears that people dread — absolutely dread — the notion of listing priorities, making choices, and taking things off their plate. Ouch! To so many it feels like abject failure.

I believe it is a failure to deal with reality and the fact, in the famous words of Dirty Harry, "a man has to know his limitations." And we all have them. Not because we are damaged, incompetent, or stupid; but simply because we are human. One hundred percent is all each of us has; not multiples of such.

That means that you actually have to make choices after listing your priorities. If you have small children, their welfare is No. 1, which has always meant to me that you need to find a way to work even your work around their needs to be parented hands-on by Mommy and/or Daddy.

The way I help people make decisions is to almost literally force them to tell me what is the most important point/issue in their lives. Believe me, it becomes easier to make deletions, subtractions, and alterations once you acknowledge what is the centerpoint of your concern.

If it is to be involved with extended family, guess you shouldn't go off with someone you just met on the internet some 1,000 miles away from home base — no matter how great a fantasy it all seems to be. If you want to take that big job risk, first comes the security of your family, then you realize what you have to do.

People with conscience and character have an easier time at this than those who are immature or narcissistic; these conditions lead to more of a sense of entitlement and impulsiveness which usually leads people to get overwhelmed by losses caused by their poor decisions as well as the disappointment of fantasies not being met.

Being overwhelmed means cutting back, making choices, and dividing up that one hundred percent in the most productive and honorable way. It does not mean getting some "booty" on the side or indulging in alcohol, drugs, porn, gambling, and so forth to medicate the confusion and frustration.

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