‘Exhausted Juggler’ Asked:
I have frequent days that I feel as if I’m center stage juggling family, work, home life, the needs of every human in my life all dependent upon my next move with the entire audience waiting for me to drop the ball. I want to prove them wrong, that I can handle every demand placed upon me with a smile on my face never breaking a sweat.
But I’m tired. Of the demands, expectations, and fear that I may not be able to do everything everyone expects. I need time for me. But am I being selfish? Is it wrong to think of myself, what’s stopping me? Will everyone survive if I step off the stage even for just an intermission? Looking for some perspective cause I’m just too busy to find it myself!
The Exhausted Juggler
Dr. Zoe Answered:
Dear Exhausted Juggler,
You are not the only woman who has bought into this “lie of the century.” Stop for a moment and re-read your story out loud. Listen to what you tell yourself about who you are and who you ought to be and what you imagine other people expect from you.
Stress is actually not created by the burdens we carry or the roles we choose, but rather the story that we tell ourselves about them. Honestly, I’m feeling a little tired myself after reading your question. If that is what you are speaking to yourself every day, no wonder you are exhausted!
So, from one busy woman to another, let’s clean up your self-talk—that’s what is stopping you! Changing your self-talk is the most effective and easiest way to change how you are feeling because you speak to yourself more than anyone speaks to you and you speak to yourself more than you speak to anyone else—so you are your biggest influencer.
You can reframe your thoughts by making a list of all the negative things you say to yourself (see your question above for starters) and then start a process we call refuting in CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). Re-state those negative thoughts in a more positive light. For example, “everyone’s waiting for me to drop the ball,” can be reframed into, “I have worked hard to become a great leader and a lot of people look up to me.”
The fact that you are fearful of not living up to your and others’ expectations tells me that you are passionate and really value what you are doing. You are walking in your purpose and you just need to trust that God’s got this! When we are stressed and juggling a lot of balls, sometimes we forget to enjoy the journey.
Make a regular practice (on your calendar) where you take a few minutes to reflect on how far you have come, where you are now, and all the positive, wonderful aspects of your current journey. Also, regularly evaluate your priorities and make sure that all of your activities point back to your priorities. If any of them don’t, it’s time to let them go.
And yes, yes, yes, you need some time to yourself. Your family, your work, and all the roles you juggle need you to step off the stage for intermission! I know you are busy and “me” time feels like a luxury you just have to do without. What if you told yourself that you don’t have time to stop by the gas station so you’re going to drive 100 miles on an empty gas tank? Good luck with that! It’s just counterproductive. So, recognize your lies for what they are.
You’ve got this! It just takes a little grit and grace. Hugs!
Read what some of our writers have to say about strength and self-care:
3 Ways Positive Self-Talk Can Improve Your Life
Being a Successful Leader Starts With You
Self-Care: What to Do When It Feels Like Another Commitment
2 Ways to Break Free From Self-Sabotage
Have You Ever Said It? “I’m Not Good Enough.”
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