There’s a fine line between being helpful and over-functioning.  Once you slip into over-functioning mode, you don’t have a choice to act.  Your craving to act becomes an urge, almost like an obsession.

In this fast-paced world, many of us “over-do” and become vigilant about what might go wrong.  As soon as we sense a problem, the “action urge” takes over and we feel compelled do something about it – we react.

When this happens, your focus on the problem increases your fear, so you naturally want to manage it and stay in charge.  Boy does this ever fuel the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT), and its roles of Victim, Persecutor, and Rescuer!

In over-functioning mode, you come up with a plan to solve the problem, not realizing that what you are reacting to are your uncomfortable feelings about the situation.  Feeling like a Victim to your uncomfortable feelings narrows your perspective so you naturally try to control the situation (and others may see you as a Persecutor).  Or you may try pleasing everyone, wanting to avoid a conflict (others may hope you will rescue them).  Your focus continues to narrow, and you become more fixed upon your judgements and opinions.

Once this happens you naturally decide who is with you and who is not.  Your capacity to choose your response to life’s challenges continues to narrow while reducing your ability to respond as a Creator, the central role in TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)®.

An unintended consequence of over-functioning is that you teach people to count on you because they know you will take care of things.  If this pattern continues, your over-functioning encourages others to disengage and not take responsibility for themselves, perpetuating a cycle of Victim mentality in others.  What a paradox!  Your desire to help and be over-functioning blocks others from functioning!

Pay attention to your “action urge.”  It can be so strong that you go on automatic and do things the same way over and over, sleepwalking through life.  Notice the next time this happens and pause for a moment.  Remain still and breath slowly, and most likely you will feel the action urge rise-up in your body.  You may notice that your jaw is clenched, shoulders scrunched, shallow breathing, and/or a knot in your stomach.  If you pay attention, your body will give you all kinds of signals that you have shifted into an over-functioning gear.

Over-functioning may happen in one part of your life and not in others.  For example, you may over-function as a parent, doing things for some family members that are really theirs to do.  At work, though, you may have appropriate boundaries and respect other’s roles and responsibilities.  Notice what parts of your life you over-function and ponder the beliefs you have that may drive over-functioning in one area, but not another.

Here are a few suggestions for loosening the obsessive grip of over-functioning:

  1. See it and own it! Admit to yourself when you get caught in the over-doing urge.
  2. In the moment, say to yourself: “I have a choice to not respond to the action urge.  I can be still and not react.”
  3. You can choose to do other stuff or simply wait.
  4. You can focus on what you care about and what you are grateful for. Gratitude is one of the fastest ways to feel content with what is happening in the moment.

The key to shifting out of over-functioning mode is to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.   Sometimes the best thing you can do as a Creator is to “stand still” and do nothing in the moment!

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