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When Doing All-the-Things is Just Too Much

I learned at an early age that being the responsible one, the one everyone can count on, can earn me a lot of praise—while helping me avoid my anxiety. So I at an early age, I adopted the mantra, “I Got This.” I say it to myself when I am overwhelmed as a reminder that I can handle it. 

The downside is, being the go-to responsible one also can cause a lot of anxiety. There is a fine line between “I got this” being motivational and being masochistic. When I take “I got this” to the extreme, I push myself too hard, I demand too much of myself, and I forget that I am not a machine. 

One way I have eased this mantra is to add a different mantra—lean in. When I hear myself saying, “it will be ok, You got this,” repeatedly, I remind myself to lean in. Lean into the hugs my husband gives me. Lean into the support of friends and family. Lean into the emotions, joy, sadness, fear. 

Being the independent soul that I am, I tend to pride myself on ‘going it alone,’ not needing anybody and handling all-the-things. But when I am going it alone all the time, life becomes very one-dimensional. I become robotic because everything is just about doing the next task in the most productive perfect way. And I lose all the flavor and color of life. 

Frequently when my husband hugs me, I will remind myself to ‘lean in,’ pause, and soak up the hug take the hug for all it’s worth. Or when I am having a stressful day, and my first inclination is to forge ahead, dig deeper and become a virtual stress machine, I will remind myself to ‘lean in’ either in asking for help or leaning into my need to take a break. When I lean in, life gets better, my relationships get stronger, my peace of mind is greater, and I am calmer. 

Leaning in is more than just asking for help. It is leaning into everything I am experiencing, the fear, doubts, insecurity, The fact that I might be tired and need to lean into taking a quick nap. Or lean into the areas of life that aren’t clicking the way I want them to and seeing what changes might need to be made. When I can stop running, turn around and lean into what I am trying to avoid, life gets easier. To be clear, leaning in is not an intuitive action, and it is definitely not my first response. It is something I have to remind myself to do. I have to make a practice of reminding myself to lean in.

When my husband and I aren’t clicking, maybe we are arguing, or maybe we are feeling distanced, and after we have gone to bed, I lie there feeling raw and exposed. My instinct is to shut down and close off, and then I hear my Biggest Fan quietly whispers, lean in—he loves you. It is a just disagreement. So I roll over and give him a hug, and I feel us both relax. I remind myself we are a team, I am safe, and everything is ok. Lean in, take a breath, feel the feelings, and then take action.

Most importantly, I have to be reminded to lean into the joys of our life. Last weekend, celebrating the Fourth of July with my family, my “I got this” mantra kicked in as it got closer to dinner time. I started going through the list of what needed to be done and could feel my anxiety rising. As I sat there, I told myself to lean in. No one cares if dinner is on time; just sit here and soak it up for 15 minutes. Lean into the moment: the laughter, the warmth, the conversations happening around me. I soaked it up. Too often, I miss those moments because I am too busy doing all-the-things.

I often visualize walking down the street on a windy day. The easiest way to maneuver is to lean into the wind. Standing straight and tall, being rigid and stoic will just make it that much more challenging to walk. And a bonus, if I can link arms with someone as I walk through the wind, it gets even easier. 

When we lean in, we naturally relax, and we can shift and move as needed. The wind is still there, but rather than fighting against it, we are moving with it.

Where in your life could you use a little ‘lean in’?