A few months ago, I was sharing with my mom, sister, and sister-in-law that my life felt completely overwhelming. It was strange because there was nothing, in particular, that had changed or that I could blame for the way I was feeling. My kids were in the midst of soccer season, which is always a bit crazy, and we had taken a couple trips in the past month. The only thing I could point to specifically was a large work project that was about to ramp up.
As I shared with them, my mom told me a story about how she had to take her vehicle into the shop because it was giving her a warning light for “collision mitigation malfunction.” Anything with the word collision in it sounds bad, so she took it in. The technician took a look and asked her if she had been going through a lot of detours lately. She confirmed that there were detours all around her house. He reprogrammed the system and explained that it works much like our brains.
If you’re taking in too much information at one time—it overloads and shuts down.
I thought about that technician’s analogy for a while. Could it be possible that I was simply taking in too much information?
We’ve all heard that women have way too many browsers open at all times. Would I feel better if I could find a way to shut some of them down? I decided to take a step back and be honest with myself about what was on my plate. I started blocking off time in my planner for various tasks in a more methodical and future-oriented way than my normal weekly planning. I was determined to find the source of feeling overwhelmed.
Remember that big work project I mentioned that was ramping up? Once I plugged that into my schedule and blocked out the time for it, my AHA moment came. My plate that was already full spilled completely over.
Staring at the hard, cold evidence, I realized that as much as I was excited to be a part of that project, there was no way I had the mental, emotional or physical space for it right now.
So I did the thing I really didn’t want to do. I let it go. I explained my situation and bowed out for this year.
I’ll be honest. I wasn’t sure if quitting that one thing would actually cure feeling overwhelmed. I was a little worried I would quit and still feel like a hot mess, but several weeks went by and the mental fog started to lift. I found myself feeling lighter and having more mental space for my kids and my husband.
I started feeling like I was enjoying life again.
How quitting something so small could yield such a big difference for me still kind of blows my mind.
And yet, I remember my mom’s car. That system was designed to keep cars from colliding into other vehicles, but it couldn’t function properly because it was on information and task overload.
Friends, are you seeing the connection here? We can either choose to be detectives in our own lives and watch for malfunction signals and warning lights, or we can wait for our systems to shut down. Our bodies and our brains were not designed to go 24/7.
Sleep, rest, and play are not optional activities for the lucky few. They are mandatory activities for human beings.
There is power and freedom in knowing when to say enough.
We cannot be everything to everybody, but we can be the person we want to be for a selected few. And the good news is, we get to choose which path we take.
The more I embrace knowing when to let something go or say no, the easier it becomes to live life at a pace that is less hurried and distracted. I’m learning to listen to my body and my mind and hear the quiet whisper of enough.