I’m an eternal optimist and recovering overdoer. I like to think I can do more than I can in the time that I have. I also like to believe things will go “right” with minimal snags.
Life doesn’t always go as I want it to.
So even though I set ambitious goals each year, I admit that I don’t always reach them. Sometimes I fall really short. I used to let it bother me and frustrate me. And sometimes I’d even just give up, thinking that if I couldn’t do it all the way, I might as well just not do it at all.
Over the last few years, with counseling and reflection, that “all or nothing” thinking is not healthy. It is a negative thought pattern that keeps me from making progress and enjoying the small steps forward that I do take toward my goals. I’ve learned that I don’t have to do things perfectly or all the way to appreciate the progress made.
That doesn’t stop me from getting frustrated though, or from starting the slippery slope toward negative thought patterns. When I feel that frustration and sense the slippery slope, I do my best to remember to BREATHE.
B – Be over do (from Spiritually Healthy Discipleship by Peter Scazzero). I am a human BEing, not a human DO-ing. When I feel frustrated at how things are going, I try to focus on who I want to BE in the moment. My choices and actions must reflect who I want to be.
R – Rest and relax. Often I find that frustration comes from a place of being tired and weary. I’ve been going too hard, doing too much, and not resting. When I take time to rest and relax, often my perspective and attitude changes.
E – Embrace small steps. Small steps forward are still steps forward. I can remember the progress that I have made, the changes that have already happened, and the smallest of steps taken toward the bigger goal.
A – Attend to what’s important. When life goes crazy and all the to do’s seem overwhelming, I stop and attend to what’s most important right now. What is the priority at the moment? That day? That week? What is the priority for this season of my life? Feelings of overwhelm often subside when I attend to the most important things.
T – Testify to what is true. Frustration and overwhelm provide a ripe environment for spiraling negative thinking. Thoughts of comparison, focus on what you don’t have or haven’t done, internal dialogue of unworthiness… all seem to creep in when in a vulnerable place. When that happens, testify to what you know is true. Tell the stories of what good has been. Speak words of life and truth – no matter what circumstances you are in, you are the beloved child of God, you have the power to make new choices, and this season will not last forever.
H – Hope again! Tomorrow will be a new day and mercies are new every morning. Hit reset and hope again in forward progress and positive change.
E – Encourage your inner self and others. I’ve often found that when I feel discouraged, encouraging others helps me feel encouraged. So take a moment to reach out to 5 people and share what you notice that is great about them. Send an uplifting Scripture verse or quote. And if need be, consider what you would tell a friend who is feeling like you are and encourage yourself with those same words.
In the moments you feel frustrated and overwhelmed, when life feels too much, I hope you will remember to BREATHE. Be. Rest. Embrace. Attend. Testify. Hope. Encourage. You are worth it.
I hope this post has encouraged you. If you are feeling frustrated and overwhelmed and would like me to pray for you, feel free to comment below. It would be an honor to carry your burdens in prayer.