I have such a busy schedule today. I have no idea where to even begin. It all has to get done and I have to do it now. Everyone is depending on me for so much. I don’t want to disappoint anyone if I don’t get something done. What do I do? I’m feeling so frustrated right now. Why do I keep doing this to myself. How do I get it all done? I’m only one person.
These are things that go on in our daily lives and more often than not for some, they bring on a state of overwhelm and frustration that leads to a bad attitude. An attitude that at times very well affects family and friends because we become snappy, ill tempered and downright mean. What can be done to relieve yourself of this feeling of overwhelm? I want to give you a few suggestions that may help to alleviate the unnecessary stress you’re bringing into your life. You have the power to say NO and know your own boundaries or limits. Most times we take on a million things to try and please everyone. We want to be liked. We want to feel wanted and needed. Sometimes this is at the expense of your own peace of mind.
A lot of the stress we bring on is truly self inflicted. You give your power of saying NO away and then you feel used and abused. It becomes downright frustrating. Who is to blame? You are tempted to point the finger at those that are constantly expecting you to do everything they request of you. You become resentful of friends and family and begin to carry a chip on your shoulder about how others use you.
First off let me just say that no one is to blame for your feelings except for you. People will only do what you allow them to do to you. That of course includes volunteering yourself until you are spreading yourself thin. Ask yourself why you feel the need to do everything everyone requests of you. Are you afraid of something? Are you trying to compensate for something that you’ve convinced yourself you’re not good enough for?
I want to share a story about how this personally affected me in a very negative way. It had started when I was very young and felt responsible for the care of my siblings after my biological mother abandoned us. I had to care for them or they would not eat. I held resentment towards my mother for leaving me to take care of 3 younger siblings at the age of 5. How was I to care for them at my age. I didn’t know how but I felt I had no choice but to do it. This of course created a lot of stress in my life at such a tender age.
I was adopted and then I felt that I no longer had to be responsible for anyone else but me. Boy was I wrong. At around 10 years of age I was then responsible for ironing everyone’s clothes for the week. That’s 4 people each with 5 outfits and at times the outfits of my mother for the work week. This was not a choice but I was resentful nonetheless. I had to find a way to make this somehow enjoyable but it was a lot of work. I was expected to get it all done within a specified time because then there was house chores. There were no excuses. It all had to get done.
These early experiences prepared me for what was to come in my future when I decided to leave home at the age of 14. I had been conditioned to be a “servant” and therefore everything I did and still do sometimes is take on more than I’m able to accomplish within reason. I felt that the only way to keep everyone happy was to just volunteer therefore I didn’t feel forced to do anything. I am a very giving person by nature so the act of serving others is not the problem. I just always felt used and taken advantage of. I would get so angry when I would offer to help someone and they would take me up on it but never hold up their end of the deal, whatever that was.
This kept happening over and over and each time I would get more resentful, more angry and feel like people just knew I was coming around the corner. It was always, it seemed, expected for me to be there for whatever was needed. I would ask the same old question all the time. Why do people use me all the time? Most times, no one was even asking me for help but I was quick to jump to the rescue. This not only happened in my personal life but my work life as well. I would work obscene amount of hours just to get everything that I had volunteered to do, done. When family or friends told me about their woes, I would volunteer my time, money or whatever I had that they could use me for and agreements were made in which I would be the only one holding up my end of the deal.
It took me several years into my adulthood to learn how to say no and not feel bad about it. I realized that I was the one causing the unnecessary stress in my life. It was happening in every area of my life. In my personal life, I always volunteered to help friends and family with finances even when I had no business extending myself. I had a hope and a prayer that they would pay me back when they said but the negative chatter in my head knew and expected them to falter. It was happening at work. I would take on more than I needed just so that I felt that things would get done right. This of course led to many sleepless nights because I would take work home with me. This in itself is another topic of discussion.
I started to take on more than I could handle at home with my children as well. This was of course was when they were much older and could take on responsibility for helping me around the house. I wouldn’t really allow them to clean up after themselves because after yelling to get it done a million times, I would just do it myself. This definitely led to a lot of frustration and resentment towards my children. I kept wondering why they were so lazy and refused to do anything. I found myself complaining always. I was stuck in a vicious cycle of the same repeated nonsense. I felt used by everyone, including my children. What finally clicked that allowed me to see what I was doing to my state of mind? I got tired of being tired. I realized that I was the only one responsible for all the stress I’d brought into my life.
I started by telling people NO. It was hard at first to not feel like I was disappointing someone or letting them down. It was hard not thinking about how it might be my fault if something went wrong in someone else’s life. I had a long history of making myself feeling obligated to everyone for one reason or another. This was going to be a conditioning that I had to break if I was going to find peace of mind. I can tell you that today I am closer to my goal of only doing that which I truly can for others and not feeling bad if I say NO. This is especially true for my family. They were the most difficult to say no to. Well, actually I made it difficult to say no by making myself feel bad if I did.
If the things you do for others doesn’t bring you joy and happiness then you need to not do them. If you aren’t excited about doing favors for others, don’t do them. Nothing obligates you to anyone no matter what they are to you. No one owes anyone anything. If you do for others, do it with a happy heart. Contrary to societal belief, we only owe ourselves total happiness and joy. When you do whatever you do for others with gladness and joy, it makes life stress free. When you choose to make yourself happy and do whatever it takes to always put you first, then everything just feels better.