Raising four kiddos as a single mom gave me A LOT of opportunities to feel overwhelmed. The problem was, when I felt overwhelmed, I didn't show up as a good mom, a kind friend, or a present-passionate ministry leader. I knew that if I got in over my head, it would be a slippery slope, so I had to work hard to stay within my limits and keep my sanity intact.
Setting boundaries helped serve as a guardrail to keep me from slipping into overwhelm.
A friend once asked my daughter, "How does your mom do it?" OHHH what a great question, I often wondered how I maintained sanity.
Without missing a beat, my daughter responded, "My Mom's yes is yes, and her no is no. She's not always right, but she sticks to her decisions."
There you have it...In a nutshell, the key for me in maintaining sanity and overcoming overwhelm was setting BOUNDARIES. It wasn't about worrying if they were right or wrong...having boundaries helped our family navigate the chaos and confusion that life throws your way.
Boundaries help us find our balance and stay true to our values and what's important when things go crazy.
I know that setting and keeping boundaries can be challenging. It’s particularly difficult to stand your ground when you’re dealing with tough situations and already in a state of overwhelm. We know we need boundaries, and we even decide to establish some boundaries. Unfortunately, the reality of staying within those set boundaries we establish for ourselves and our families is HARD work.
Boundaries are like guide rails that help keep you on track. Hopefully, you've redirected or rerouted your journey by now. You've identified some of the stuck places, roadblocks, or sinkholes that keep you feeling overwhelmed. You've even figured out some changes you can make in your life to get you on the path to freedom and overcome overwhelm.
The next step is to establish a few guard rails to keep you from losing your way or falling off the cliff.
1. Learn the power of "NO"
No is a complete sentence. It does not require an explanation to follow. You can truly answer someone’s request with a simple no. ~Sharon E. Rainey
Guard rails can be as simple as developing a NO LIST.
When making a list, consider including items that are a definite "NO." For instance, if Friday is reserved for family activities, it might be best to decline any invitations that involve overnight stays on Fridays. Similarly, if you're attending a women's leadership meeting where you'll be expected to take on multiple roles, prepare your "NO" now.
What are the NOs that will help you maintain your sanity for the remainder of the year?
For other small start ideas, be sure to get the OVERCOME OVERWHELM Personal Journey Guide.
3. Use the 80% Rule.
I imagine you might be a struggling perfectionist. Or perhaps yes rolls off your lips before you have time to think about it. (see rules for the NO list above) Having too much on our plate, or the desire to do everything perfectly causes psychological distress and can easily lead to procrastination. Which will easily take us into a state of overwhelm.
Practice asking yourself, “Is this 80% of what I would consider perfect?” if so, give yourself the freedom to stop. This has been a life changer for me and allowed me to move on to the next project.
2. Reframe how you think about boundaries.
When you hear the word "Boundaries", what kind of feelings does it evoke?
Establishing boundaries can have a negative connotation for some people. This may be due to previous experiences of abuse in the name of boundaries or a belief that boundaries are not spiritual or scriptural. For those who have never used life-giving boundaries before, it can be challenging to know where to begin.
What if we are thinking about boundaries all wrong?
What if there’s another way to frame the idea of boundaries?
David proclaims in Psalm 16: 6
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely, I have a delightful inheritance.
David is saying the boundary lines are in pleasant places and that there is a delightful inheritance to be had within those boundaries. SELAH...pause and just think about that.
As a child of God, you have an inheritance. That inheritance includes:
Hope for the future
Kindness toward others
A generous spirit
AND SO MUCH MORE
Are you so busy running the rat race of life, living in the land of overwhelm, that you and your family are missing out on this beautiful inheritance?
My Lovely Lead-Her,
God is inviting you to live within the boundary lines He establishes in order to receive the fullness of your delightful inheritance.
Spend time with the Creator of the Universe and the Creator of YOU, and ask for His leadership.
Listen to the movements of your heart. Don't try to talk yourself out of what you are sensing.
God longs for you to take hold of your inheritance, so much so that He will invite you to remove or edit some things in life so you can overcome overwhelm and live in the land of 'freedom from the mess of stress."
Why not get started today?
If you’d like some simple guidelines for those boundaries, Download my OVERCOME OVERWHELM PERSONAL ROADMAP to guide you into your promised land.