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Woman Smiling
Woman Smiling

Conquering Overwhelm (or the tyranny of the "shoulds")

Does your "to do" list keep getting longer and longer?

Do you feel that you can never accomplish all that's on your plate?

 

When you look at anxiety and the feelings of being overwhelmed, it may feel like the world has to change in order for you to relax and have peace of mind.  Since we can't change the world, what is often needed is a change of our own perspective.  So how so you do that when your brain is screaming, "No, no, no; it's the world that needs to change."

One of the first ways to handle the feelings of overwhelm is to look at the role of "shoulds" in your life. 

      Why should you take charge of the bake sale for the Scouts?

      Why should you exercise more?

      Why should you fix fancy meals every night?  (Or one for the kids & one for the hubby?)

      Why should you do your children's and husband's laundry every week?

      Why should you be responsible for most of the household chores?

      Why should you reports for work be perfect?

The problem with all the shoulds is you feel guilty if you don't do all of these tasks.   You may also feel resentful and angry that you must do them.  You blame yourself and a lot of energy is drained from you.  Or you might skip hours of sleep and be totally exhausted.   (One client I had actually fell asleep at her desk at work because she was so exhausted.)  Albert Ellis once said, "The dirtiest word in the English language is should.

Let's talk about some solutions:

For one week become aware of how often you use the word "should" or similar words like "must" or "have to"  in your quiet conversations with yourself.  I have suggested to some clients that they wear a rubber band around their wrist for one week and every time they say one of those words to themselves, they snap the rubber band. 

Then the following week substitute the word "choose" for those "dirty words". 

Now you can begin to decide whether or not you really choose to do those tasks or if you can let some of them go.  You may believe you have to be SuperMom--because you believe other women do it.  (The actual truth is that it is a myth that any Mom can succeed as SuperMom in all aspects of her life at all times.  The good Mom creates a working balance in her life.)

What if the feelings of overwhelm are so great and you just can't let go even though you are struggling with great overwhelm?  This is the time to see a professional counselor who can guide you through the process of achieving peace of mind and ditching that feeling of overwhelm.

family of 4 smiling in winter. mother, daughter, father, son

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