Posts Tagged: control

A Life Hack to Make Hard Times Better

Most people can handle a few stressors at a time, without being completely sidelined. But have you ever felt like some stressors just keep coming, like wave after wave not giving you a chance to get back on your feet? Today we are talking about how to get through hard stuff by developing the Life Hack that can change your life.

I’ve heard it said that gratitude is an attitude, and thankfulness is a state of mind. True- but I think gratitude is a skill first and foremost. It is a muscle that needs regular exercise- a behavior that needs routine practice- a decision that is made over and over, day after day.

Not very sexy, I know. Really, more exercise?

A study I recently read about took two groups of un-medicated depressed people: the control group participants were to change nothing about their lives, and the experimental group participants were to identify something for which they were grateful three times a day. Three months later, as you can guess, the gratitude group felt much better than the control group.

So gratitude is a medicine. When you can’t do anything about the stressors in life, or the frequency in which they come, you can simply notice the good and take your medicine. When you’re out of control of external things, you can be in control of your internal state of affairs. When you begin to take account of the good in your life, the hard seems to lose importance. When I do this, I find my priorities shift and I remember the deep things, the wise things and the growing things. When the good occupies my mind, instead of the hard, I feel happier.

I don’t believe this happens over night, but I do know there is some science behind the “practice of gratitude” making a big difference over time. Science tells us that endorphins are released with this 3x a day gratitude exercise, and the release of more endorphins over time changes the brain chemistry of depressed people, making them feel better.

Here are some FOR INSTANCES:

Lucy: My friend who is feeling sick after her most recent Chemo treatment, posts a picture of her dad with the caption, “Thanks for taking care of us for a few days. I love you, Dad!” Though cancer was cause for the visit, my friend exercises the skill of gratitude in the face of it.

Marge: Divorce may have ended the assurance of holidays spent together, yet my friend calls each child on Christmas and birthdays telling them what she appreciates about them. More than anything, she wants to be with them on these special days, but she chooses to practice thankfulness instead of bemoaning the circumstances.

Luke: His internal suffering seems insurmountable at times. He even has nights he wants to give up. But he thinks about the things that really matter to him, and choses to give thanks for them even when his feelings are far from grateful.

Rebecca knows that being unemployed could be a big problem, but she choses to see her recent unemployment as an opportunity to reinvent herself, learn something new, and create something out of nothing. She chooses to be grateful for the opportunity, instead of fearful over the problem.

How about you? The stressors of relationships, work, raising children and your own health can be overwhelming. Imagine yourself stopping three times a day to offer up a prayer of gratitude. Give it a week and see how your perspective and mood have changed. Yes, there’s science behind it. And a little magic too.

The Down Side of Responsibility

Hello to the Best Steady Eddies, the Most Consistent and Persistent, and the Earth’s Saltiest people. I love ya! Today, I’m talking to the Ever Readies. The Go Bot Girls. The Over Achievers. And the Over Functioning Super Heros. 

Have you ever felt so overly responsible for something, that it stressed you out? Maybe you were leading a team, or facilitating a bible study or parenting a screaming toddler. Whatever it was, you felt like the thing began and ended with you, and you were the one responsible for its success or failure. 

Feeling responsible isn’t bad. It’s actually a good motivator. However, feeling OVERLY responsible can be bad for you and bad for the people around you.

What Is Over Responsibility?

Feeling overly responsible means that you think it’s your job to take care of other people’s jobs. You think it’s your job to make others perform, make others happy, make others behave, make others conform, and make others pleased with you. You feel a compulsion to live up to unattainable standards of perfection. You feel like it’s all up to you or it won’t get done. You often feel in a lose-lose battle. What should feel like a privilege, turns into a burden. You feel like you are working harder than the rest of your group, family, or team, and that they just don’t understand the amount of pressure you’re under. You absorb and take on others’ feelings and expectations.

The Danger of Over Responsibility is…

People start to sense that you are stressed and angry all the time. They feel a bit demeaned and belittled that you don’t trust them to make good choices. People feel less than important to you. You end up doing your job, and other people’s jobs too. You end up frazzled, stressed out, sick and burned out. Your every action to over-function is met with others’ equal reaction to under-function. Your over-responsibility results in others’ under-responsibility. 

What Over Responsibility Looks Like on the Outside…

You feel unappreciated, over worked, and underpaid. You feel like no one else works as hard as you. You feel bitter at the others’ carefree attitudes, and they get to enjoy the fruits of your labors. You feel self-pity. You may say to yourself, “I have to do everything around here” or “Leaders get the short end of the stick,” or “People are selfish!” You may feel angry that other people are “ruining” your efforts.

What Over Responsibility Feels Like on the Inside…

For me, I start to feel panicky inside. I start to sense that things are spinning ever so slightly out of my control, and that if I let go of my tight grip, a crash is sure to happen. If I were to sum it up with a couple of words of what Over Responsibility feels like to me, it would be sheer terror. terror that this good thing will slip away. Terror that I’ll be blamed for a failure. Terror that the shame of my mistakes my overwhelm me and leave me abandoned. Terror that God will be disappointed in me.

Rationally, I know the things that frighten me will not come true, but terror is irrational, and before I can act according to rationality, I’ve already succumbed to my terror.

What to do When you find yourself in the VORTEX of Over Responsibility

  • Breath and realize you are over-functioning
  • Realize you are over functioning because you care. That’s good. But, turn that care toward yourself. Care enough about yourself to step back, let others have their feelings, do their part, and make their choices.
  • Apologize quickly to the people you barked at, snarked at, or tried to control.
  • Let go. Let go. Let go. Let the hell go. It’s going to be fine without your iron grip.
  • Don’t rehearse in your head 100 times what you did or said wrong.  Remember, you feel over-responsible for being overly responsible, so forgive yourself and move on quickly. All great people make mistakes, and they learn how to recover from them quickly.
  • Tell somebody how you feel and get some support. You’ll feel better when you realize that a lot of people just like you get it,


You are a high achiever, a high performing leader, a Go-Bot, Ever Ready, Risk Taker. You’re the kid who sits in the front row. You’re the one with the high goals and big dreams. The activities you engage in are important. You are called by God to lead that team, to facilitate that bible study, to parent that child and to lead that organization. But you don’t have to run yourself in the ground to get it done.  When you sense yourself feeling overly responsible, know that you’ve just stepped outside of God’s rest. Step right back into God’s rest by letting go of the things that ARE and SHOULD be out of your control. Those things are for God to handle, and not for you.

Cheers to you, and all your relationships!




My “Relationship Savvy” blog gives you tips, advice, and flippin’ fantastic feel-goods to help with your most difficult relationship challenges.

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