Step Away From the Hamster Wheel!

hamter-wheelI just heard someone say that she is just too exhausted to continue to compete in the rat race. I get that! Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed, I feel like dropping out of not only the rat race, but also the human race! And I think there are very few people who are past puberty and have never felt that way at some point in their lives. The world is full of people who are running as fast as they can like little hamsters on their exercise wheels; running faster and faster and never getting anywhere. It works for pet hamsters…not so much for people!

So many of us get up every morning, put on our Super Hero capes, and set out to do the nearly impossible! We juggle work, social and family lives and then take on extra responsibilities which pretty much assure that we will not have even a minute of relaxation time. This often ends badly. Our super-hero capes end up being our shrouds! OK, that’s a little dramatic, but you get the point.

So why do we do it? Some feel that their value is measured by how busy they are. If a person is running in all different directions and constantly taking on more responsibilities, he or she certainly must be very important, right? It seems as if people participate in stress competitions, because they think the more stressed you are, the more official and professional you appear. I have even heard people arguing with each other about who is the more stressed…kind of an “America’s Got Stress” show.

Of course, there are some situations in which it is difficult to lighten your load; it’s not easy to tell your boss thanks but no thanks to a new assignment. But when it comes to other people, it is possible that some of us take on more than we can handle because we just can’t say no. Maybe we’re afraid that people will be offended or even dislike us if we turn down their requests. The reasons are many and different for each one of us, but the bottom line is that after we wear ourselves out trying to be everything to everybody, what then?  Here are some of my personal rules for you adapt to your specific situation, the next time someone asks you step onto that hamster wheel:

  • Whether you are living in my house or a guest therein, please understand that sometimes I choose to put my sanity above having a living room out of a decorating magazine. If you see dust on my table and cannot restrain yourself from writing your name in it, feel free to do so but please do not date it. If the “protective coating” of dust really offends you, you are welcome to fetch a can of Pledge and a cloth and go for it. And if you should see a really large dust ball roll by, please humor me and play along if I call it by name and try to pass it off as a pet.
  • If you are absolutely swamped and just can’t fit one more thing into your busy schedule, please do not automatically assume that I have more time on my hands than you do.  If I can help you, I will. But, if I can’t sew, shop, host, volunteer, or bake, please do not groan, whine, roll your eyes or sign heavily and hold your back in pain.
  • To my family: acknowledge and accept the concept that although it may not be your favorite thing to do, you ARE perfectly capable of picking up your belongings from the floor, tossing your dirty laundry into the hamper rather than flinging it across the room, rinsing off your dirty dishes, escorting the trash out to be collected, and flushing the toilet. These are basic skills that can be taught to a chimpanzee. Do not take this to mean that you are off the hook if you find a chimp to fill in for you.

I hope you find these useful and once again, if you begin to feel tense, I’d like to remind you to hang up your Super Hero cape, move away from the hamster wheel, rediscover the joy and peace of living simply, and resign as understudy for one of the Guardians of the Universe!

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker and life-mapping coach who encourages people to get off their hamster wheels!   http://www.lindahenley-smith.com

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