“Hi. I’m Jackie and I’m a chronic overcommitter. I’ll begin this meeting of the chronic overcommitters by creating a signup sheet for all the things that we need to accomplish tonight. I’ve already signed up for most of them...”
There isn’t a chronic overcommitters groups that I’m aware of, but if there was I would go every week in addition to all the other things I’ve already agreed to do. And let’s be honest...I’d definitely be a group leader too. I mean, if you’re going to attend, why not run the damn thing? Amirite?
If there is one vice that I have worked very hard to shake it is volunteering or signing up for everything. When I see a call for volunteers it’s like getting a fix of overcommitted bliss. I am now in some version of “recovery” for saying yes to everything but I regularly fight the urge to shoot my hand in the air and say “I’ll do it!”
An unnecessary example
This was my plan for last Saturday:
8:30am - 12pm: Workshop for “women who do too much”
1pm - 4pm: Amazing class at the SheHive
5pm - Way too late: Charity dinner for bees
I’ll admit that I did, in fact, see the irony of that first workshop and the timing of this schedule. I even made a joke about it to a friend. “I’ll start doing less next week!” Hahaha lol rofl. YOLO. Sometimes I tell myself that if the things I’m doing are for the good of me, then it’s ok to do allllll of them. Sometimes I also lie to myself.
Hey, stop doing that.
So why do I (or we, I know you’re out there) do this? I’ve pondered this topic a lot on my own, more in therapy, and everyday with my patient husband who has asked me to stop volunteering for EVERYTHING. And I have the answer. I’ve had it for a while and it always comes back to the root of all my issues: worth. Why would I say no to things when saying yes makes me feel valued and accomplished?
Cue the sad trombones.
Everytime I volunteer for something, and it is done well (and, trust me, it will be) I feel my worth meter zing into overdrive, endorphins rush, the crowd goes wild and I AM AWESOME. Even if only for a few minutes.
I’ve have spent the better part of the last 3 years stepping away from extra commitments, saying “no” and then just replacing those things with other things. BUT! I am learning to saying “no” to more things and really focusing on the things I want to do versus the ones I am available for or that I’ll be successful at. It’s been a slow process.
My therapist once said something to me that has honestly changed the way I think about well...everything. She said, “You can’t control your first thought, but you can control your second.” Big ups to my therapist. For most of us our first thought is what we’ve learned overtime, it’s what we picked up as kids or through media and it doesn't always reflect what our adult mind actually thinks.
For example: When I hear, “Ok who wants to take this on?”
My first thought is: “Me! I’ll do it! I’m super good at that.”
My second though is: “Psh, girl, let someone else take that shit on.”
Another example: When my therapist asks me if I can see my worth yet:
My first thought is: “Not really. I still have a lot to prove.”
My second thought is: “Fuck yea, I work my ass off and I have people who love me regardless of what I produce this week. I’m killin’ the worth game.”
See? Our first thought is often our younger self seeking validation, love or repeating something we learned as kids. The second thought is where your adult self steps in and tells your younger self to kindly, shut the fuck up because I’m a grown up now and I know better.
Learning to say “yes” to myself instead of everyone else is something in which I will continue to devote time and energy because one day my old lady body won’t be able to do all the things I’m currently overcommitting to. I am working on finding ways to validate myself that are not goal and action based. Above all else, I’m working really, really hard on making that first thought about my worth to be nothing more than a split second before my adult self kicks in tells me how awesome I am.