Ok, are you ready for Part 2 of this series on Overfunctioning?  If you missed Part 1, it’s nice and juicy, and you can find it here.  For Part 2, we’re going to talk about a taboo term – Desire.  For us Overfunctioners, desire is only taboo because it opens us up to emotions that are not deemed “safe” anymore.  Don’t worry, this is a practical look at this topic that I hope will 1) help you better understand your inner overfunctioner, where it comes from and what it does and 2) start to build some awareness of how your overfunctioner is keeping you from what you desire most.

You weren’t born to have the life you desire “someday” – not after you “put in your time,” not after you prove your worth, not after you solve effing world hunger.  If you’re like me, you don’t want anything crazy:

  • A job you enjoy and feel you can contribute to and an income that supports a comfortable life
  • An opportunity to share your skills and your passion for life, be it at work or in the community
  • Some adventure (define this as you see fit for yourself)
  • A partner to share these experiences with
  • Friends and Family that are there for you, that go on adventures with you, and that understand you better than you sometimes know yourself

You may have one or two other desires, but overall this pretty much sums up what we’re looking for as a human.  The way we fill in the details in each of these areas is where the rich colors of our life start to fill in, and you are meant to have that fullness in your life at every moment (which includes NOW).

You have the capacity to show up fully in each of these areas.  It’s important we establish that right away.  AND…what happens as we are “adulting” is that each area flows differently.  You might excel at partnership and family life, and feel really stuck at work.  Or you might be a huge adventurer, but lose your mind when you start dating someone.  This variability in flow is the kindling for your Inner Overfunctioner’s fire.

Overfunctioning is the #1 Hidden Barrier to having everything on that list up there.  How does this happen and why? I’m going to break that down for you now…

At some point in your journey to create what you desire in your life, you come up against a block…it could be a crazy boss, a backstabbing friend, a bad breakup, a financial challenge, an adversarial colleague….or if you’re like I was – all of the above at the same time.  In the back of your mind, you do what any normal human would do and analyze the crap out of it and try to figure out how to make sure that NEVER happens again.  Am I right? In theory, this is normal…and so we go on with life, eventually time heals and we forget about that last time, and BAM – something happens and throws you off again.  By the time you’re 27, this has happened so much that you have 7 different layers of “things you must do to prevent <that bad thing> from happening ever again.” – VOILA, your Overfuctioner is born!

So, you think ahead (and think some more), you see around corners, you take things on because you know if you delegate – it will come back to you anyway.  Everyone turns to you, because if you can’t handle it, who can? When someone calls, you drop everything and attend to what they need. And honestly, you’re happier that way for a while.  Everytime you are able to meet a need, you get a quick dopamine hit from solving a problem or coming to the rescue.

Until all of a sudden, you’re not happy.  You’re exhausted. You resent the other person on the phone because once again “it’s all about them”.  You’re backed into a corner and you can’t keep all of the balls in the air, and no one seems to ask about that.  You’re short with your partner, even though you don’t mean to be – he/she just gets on your last nerve sometimes.  Your family makes you crazy because they don’t understand you. They want things their way, and it just makes your full plate that much heavier.  You’re dying to see your friends, but you just can’t seem to find a time that works for you AND works for them (because let’s face it, they have the same problem).  All of a sudden, those simple things you desire feel like you’re asking for aliens to land on your neighbor’s yard.

Now, you can see why you and everyone around you might end up with this little Overfunctioner inside – that’s no longer little and is derailing your train everytime you think you’ve gotten it back on track.  The biggest problem with our Overfunctioner is that she/he only knows how to handle the challenges you’ve seen in the past, and the approach always involves walls to protect yourself. That Overfunctioning side of you just wants to control what can never be controlled, and in the process distances you from the life giving relationships you most desire.

Here is the good news….I know by now you’re thinking “jeez, I’m doomed.”  You aren’t doomed! There is hope for all of our inner Overfunctioners. I personally started the recovery journey about five years ago, and on the other side of Overfunctioning is ENJOYMENT.  FULFILLMENT. PEACE.

So, first things first.  Ask yourself these questions:

  • What area is the most challenging for you right now? (This might be 1 or every single area.)  Are you struggling to feel fulfilled at work? Or is the struggle with finding meaning in your life.
  • Where are you overfuctioning?  At work, at home, with friends?  All of the above?
  • What does your overfuctioning look like?
  • What is your overfunctioning cutting you off from?  Is it time for your friends? Is it sapping your creative energy and your quest for adventure?  Are you fighting with your significant other? Get really specific.

Read this letter.  Read it often, and when you notice a desire to “ensure” an outcome (read – control), keep everyone happy (control), or take on something so it happens faster (control)….stop, drop. and sit.  Take 2 min. Put on a good soothing song, and breathe deeply. At the end of 2 min, tell your inner Overfunctioner that it’s safe and that you’re going to let this situation play out for itself.  Give yourself some SPACE.

I would love to hear from you!  I really enjoy hearing from you how this series is resonating.  Take a moment to comment below once you have a chance to let this post sink in!

(This post is #2 in a series on Overfunctioning.  For the first post, click here.  Next week, we’ll talk recovery plan – because every Overfunctioner needs a plan!)