HAVING it all doesn’t mean DOING it all
One of my clients’ most common concerns boils down to being profoundly overscheduled. The sensation of feeling too busy to get everything done can generate tremendous anxiety. Careers and relationships do fill our lives with multiple commitments, but today there is tremendous pressure to do more. In most instances, however, no one is forcing us to be this busy. Through counseling, clients often discover that true commitments have been layered with manufactured obligations that are rarely necessary or meaningful.
I work with clients to build a greater sense of ownership in their daily life experience. To this end, I often emphasize the following points. They may seem simple, but they tend to make life a lot less complicated:
1 – Determine the difference between true commitments and manufactured obligations;
2 – Eliminate at least three manufactured obligations;
3 – Outside of the daily routine, choose two things that are most important to you, and make them happen at least twice a week;
4 – Learn to say no in order to set limits with yourself, your friends, family, and work.
This last point is perhaps the most challenging. Saying no can feel especially difficult at first. However, with the right perspective and a basic understanding of the psychological theories that relate to building self-esteem and establishing appropriate boundaries, clients discover that learning to say no can be transformational.
Remember, an over-scheduled life is usually a CHOICE. At the root of many clients’ anxiety, we often discover a basic struggle to find the time to take care of ourselves and do the things we most enjoy. Choosing priorities and eliminating manufactured obligations can free up time AND tremendous emotional energy. Realizing that it is counter productive to try to do it all can actually reduce anxiety. Once we decide to do a few things well, and let go of the idea that we need to do it all, we can start to manage our lives in a more fulfilling way.