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An excerpt from Overwhelmed and Over It by Christine Arylo.
Stretched beyond capacity. Struggling to get it all done.
Sacrificing yourself to take care of everything and everyone else. Not just for a moment or a season but as a consistent cycle you cannot seem to free yourself from.
Welcome to the sisterhood of women who have become so strong and self-sufficient that we’ve come to accept the frenzied, overfilled, fast pace at which we work and live as “normal.” We do what we must in order to survive and succeed. And because you and I are so darn capable, we pull it off—for a time. But then there comes the moment when the pressure and pace are too much, even for women like us. We crash down or lash out. Like a keg pumped with pressure, spout flowing out for far too long, we have run dry. We are tapped. Burned-out. Nothing more to give but with so much more still to do, and no one else but us to do it.
We women have become so resilient that we’ve become too tolerant.
We do our best to make healthy choices. We earnestly attempt regenerating activities like meditating, going to yoga classes, cleansing, or taking technology-free weekends. But the reality is that many of us are just holding on, treading water, praying we don’t sink and go under.
I want you to know that it’s not for lack of “information” that you haven’t been able to find the solutions to the overwhelm you feel. The truth is, you know a lot: Get good sleep. Eat well. Exercise. Limit sugar and screen time. Practice mindfulness.
You don’t need more lists of information; what we all need is access to deeper wisdom, the kind that has the power to lead us to lasting personal and social transformation. We need the space to connect more deeply with ourselves to discern what is right and true. And we need connection with other conscious women to give us the courage and clarity to do things differently.
Which is why instead of filling your head with more tips, life hacks, and surface-level fixes that add to an already-full to-do list and just give you enough oomph to keep your head above water, I want to get real with you. I want to share with you, heart-to-heart, the wisdom it’s taken me over a decade to discover:
It’s not your fault you feel so stretched and overwhelmed.
The systems you work and live in were built for burnout.
It’s not for lack of desire, intelligence, or effort that you struggle to create supportive realities in which you feel both successful and sustained.
How you’ve been trained and expected to work, lead, and succeed is not the way women—or humans in general—naturally operate and create best. You haven’t been given the wisdom or superpowers you need to thrive in intense and changing times.
Repeat. It’s not your fault.
When I share this with a room full of women, I often feel like the doors are going to swing open from the pressure-release gale that comes from each woman freeing herself from the self-judgment. You can feel the energy in the room lighten as each woman starts to see how she’s not the only one striving to meet unrealistic goals, timelines, and markers of success, or the unattainable nirvana of work/life balance. Now I share that same truth with you.
Exhale with me now.
Really, just try it.
Exhale all that pressure you have been carrying around like a twenty-five-pound sack of judgment against yourself. The guilt, expectations, obligations, criticisms, comparisons, and ideals of what you should have done, accomplished, or figured out by now. All the ways in which you deem you are not measuring up, keeping up, or doing enough. The cause of the shoulder knots, jaw clenching, anxiety, mental fogginess, depression, despair, and exhaustion. It’s heavy!
Here’s what I want you to know right now. You are not making this up. You are not being too sensitive. You are not whining. You haven’t done anything wrong. And the answer is not to keep pushing and working harder, or doing and giving more. Drop the sack of self- judgment by saying to yourself:
“It’s not my fault.”
And then imagine this. Instead of feeling like it’s all up to you and you are the only one who hasn’t figured out how to manage and balance it all, imagine standing in a room of thousands of women who feel just like you. Overworked, overwhelmed, and over it. And then consider embracing this: if you truly want to thrive, then you have to do this differently. The current norms for how we work and operate as a society are not something you want to lean into.
While it’s not your fault your current reality is what it is, you are the only one with the power to change it.
Overwhelmed & Over It is a call and an invitation to you and women around the world to liberate ourselves from the self-sacrifice and burnout, first. Then, by tapping into our feminine wisdom and our power of influence, we make shifts happen in the systems we work, lead, and live in, together.
1. Stop tolerating this way of working and living as normal and acceptable.
2. Stop trying to cure the symptoms, and instead get to the root of the systems that keep us trapped in the burn out cycle and overwhelm.
3. Start putting wellness, sustainability, wholeness, and real wealth at the core of our own lives, not as an afterthought but as a requirement for how our jobs, roles, organizations, and lifestyles are designed.
4. Start asking courageous questions and questioning what does not feel right or good, unleashing our feminine wisdom to speak and challenge the status quo.
5. Wield our power as women to birth and design new ways of working, relating, and living that support and sustain people and the planet.
To liberate means “to free (a group or individual) from social or economic constraints or discrimination, especially arising from traditional role expectations or bias.” I love the power embedded in the energy of the word liberate. You and I can consciously apply this power to free ourselves, individually and collectively, of the insanity that has become normality in our current culture.
I believe with all my heart that together we can achieve powerful results in our lifetimes, for our children and the causes and concerns that matter most to us, but only if we first create realities and ways of working and living that sustain us.
Excerpted from the book Overwhelmed and Over It. Copyright ©2020 by Christine Arylo. Printed with permission from New World Library.