Survival is at the core of each and every living thing. In Darwinian terms, it is the survival of the fittest that those who exist do just that. When we stumble a little, fall down, feel overwhelmed it is the fight, or lack thereof, that allows to either continue on or give up. This inherent goal of survival also speaks of strength or weakness. Those who believe they are strong and can do without help are the same individuals who can become overwhelmed with the myriad of unforeseen events that may come their way. If the fittest are to survive then seeking help and assistance conflict with feelings of strength and determination.
But is it reality to believe we are not all made of the same fiber? Is it not true that we all struggle at times, take too much on either by choice or by circumstance? How can we balance the admission of need with the ability to manage it all? How do we learn to see the signs of struggle so we can heed the warning signs before crisis occurs?
Here are a few thoughts:
1) Recognize personal limitations. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. How we choose to fill those hours is the first sign in recognizing our limitations. Prioritizing responsibilities and recognizing how much time they will subtract from that 24 hour allotment is the first step. The problem for many, though, lies in taking on too many responsibilities and trying to cram them into a tight time frame. In The Overscheduled Child by Rosenfeld and Wise, the following statement rings true: “Family life should not be overloaded with chores and commitments that add unnecessary resentment to daily life.” Assess what must be accomplished solely by you, which tasks can be shared, and which can be passed onto another. Just because you are the den mother for your son’s Boy Scout troop doesn’t mean you have to organize every event, purchase the supplies for each event, and oversee every aspect and detail. DELEGATE! It may be hard to let go of some of the control, knowing that things won’t be done exactly as you would handle them, but that’s okay. You will find you can begin to enjoy the privilege of volunteering and spending the time with your son and his peers instead of feeling overwhelmed by the task. Isn’t that why you signed up for the role in the first place? Chinese philosopher Lao Tau stated, “Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill.”
2) Assess the quality of our lives. Is there a long-term friendship that continually sucks the life out of you? Sometimes a friendship runs its course and there is no shame in letting it go. Just because you have been friends since you were 12 doesn’t mean you have to continue that friendship if it’s reducing the quality of your life. The time and energy you are spending on a difficult relationship can be better spent on activities and with people you prefer. Are your added responsibilities limiting the time you have or hobbies and things you enjoy? Then see point one above. The quality of our lives is benefited by the ways we choose to disengage, relax, and recharge. If sitting outside on a Saturday afternoon reading a book or gardening or taking a nap brings you enjoyment, then do it and don’t feel guilty about it. Recharging our soul is essential to our well-being. Rather than viewing downtime as a luxury, consider it a priority.
Recognizing our limits and assessing the quality of our life are just two suggestions to limiting the chaos and averting a crisis. It is okay to ask for help; in fact, it is necessary. So let go of the implied stigma that only those who go it alone are the fittest. Understand that the fittest are just that because they are the ones who can recognize the need to reach out for help and support.