There’s this woman I know. She’s classy, driven and always got it together. She’s positive, outgoing, and very successful. When we talk or get together, I’m always struck by how together she is. She’s a natural born leader and so confident in herself. She’s somewhat soft spoken but when she speaks, people listen.
Or, at least, that’s how I’ve always perceived her. I assumed that what I was seeing on the outside was truly who she is on the inside. Therefore, you can imagine my surprise when I realized that she was in fact struggling on the inside. She was anxious, overwhelmed and hanging on by a thread. She wasn’t sleeping and was drinking way too much caffeine to keep herself going.
The only reason I realized that she was struggling was because we were talking, and I shared my own struggles with her. It opened a door for her to share with me. And what she shared shocked me. She was struggling with many of the same emotions I was. Her reasons were different and unique to her own life, but the underlying emotions and doubts were the same.
I have always been very organized, prepared and detail oriented in my life. I have a history of overextending myself because I hated to disappoint others or to tell them no when they needed me. She was struggling because there were things in her life that she could not refuse to deal with. Plus, she had a stressful, demanding job and there were people depending on her. She feared that she would fail. Just like I had always feared.
We are all carrying junk in our heads. It’s the left-over emotion from prior experiences in our lives, the fear of doing something that will disappoint others, or the fear that if we aren’t perfect, someone might find out. No one is perfect. NO ONE.
When I am dealing with junk in my own life, feel I am completely overwhelmed and am drowning in the amount of stuff I have to do, it is hard to step back. It is hard to slow down and prioritize all the stuff. However, when I do, I find that stuff falls into one of five categories.
Urgent & Important – stuff that needs to be done now because it is important and time sensitive
Not Urgent & Important – stuff that needs to be done but I have more time to address it
Urgent & Not Important – usually this is stuff that I need to get done but it isn’t necessarily important to me, perhaps someone else’s task that fell on me
Not Urgent & Not Important – Stuff that I can get to when I get to it, or that I can push to the side because it’s not a priority, just a day to day thing I need to get done at some point
Stuff that I am doing because I feel guilty – these are things I am doing because I don’t want to disappoint someone, have been roped into doing so that I am a good person (mom/wife/etc.) – this stuff should not even be on my list for the most part
In the case of my friend, she had so many things in her life that fell in the urgent and important box. Or at least she thought she did. She didn’t want to fail the people around her. So, she was signing on for more than she could do. In talking, she was able to calm down and rethink her priorities.
Being overwhelmed can be daunting. If you are curious about how you can sit down and identify your priorities using the categories, click below to join my mailing list. I will be chatting more about this in the newsletter and in my posts this week.