As much as we’d like to think otherwise, most of the decisions we make are on autopilot.  In the brain’s drive for efficiency, most of our behavior becomes automatic.  Someone smiles at us, we smile back.  Someone yells at us in traffic, we are ready to do battle.  Most of the stupid decisions we make are spontaneous reactions to threat, or perceived slights regarding respect  or lack of appreciation. Even 5 minutes later, we can wonder at our own behavior.  How did we get a parking space mixed up with our self respect, and regard for others?  “What was I thinking?”  This is one of the signs that you might be in the overload phase of “Don’t Worry, I got this!”.

When life shows up (children, careers, finances, mortgages, and just stuff breaking) our brains are working hard to sort out what is important.  If we are not paying attention, we’ll just take it all on.  The overwhelm, the stress, the self criticism when we can’t live up to our own “made up” expectations are the territory that can lead to acute and sometimes chronic depression, sadness, and a lack of joy in our lives.  We loose the “win” in just being alive.

God forbid, that we admit that we can’t carry it all. Believe me, it is hard to be accepting of myself.  The constant comparison between what I accomplish and what I “should” be able to do chips away at the joy of life.  I become automatic in my relationships, and those close to me can tell.

What happens when we become our own “best friend”?  What “self image” do we have to lay down to be more gentle with ourselves?  What can happen when we embrace our humanity,  admit vulnerabilities and our limitations?  The laying down of “Don’t worry, I got this”, and picking up “I’m doing the best I can” can deliver us to compassion for ourselves and the loved ones in our lives.

So the next time you find yourself attempting to take it all on, please take a deep breath, maybe even count to ten, and say “let me get back to you about that”.   It may help to think of what your best friend might say to you and your never ending list.  This may help you smile at yourself and relax, even just a little.

Bob Patterson, LMFT, LPC

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