Ep 35: Responsibility Exhaustion

It’s not uncommon for women to feel like they are the ones responsible for holding it all together. From the home to the kids. From work to making sure everyone gets fed. And the thousands of little (and big) things in between. Most women would say, “If I don’t make sure it gets done, it doesn’t get done.”

We manage it all. Sometimes well … and sometimes, not so well. Because to juggle it all gets exhausting. Can I get an Amen?

If you’re used to taking on all the responsibility and you feel like there’s not enough time for it all, today’s episode is for you.

You will learn how to find a bit more freedom for yourself, and start letting go of some things that you don’t want to do anymore.

You’ll get clear on what you want and begin trusting that there is enough time for it.

What You’ll Get From This Episode:

• How to stop doing what you don’t want to do.

• How perfectionism is keeping you stuck in the “I’ll just do it” cycle.

• How to take a break with your partner.

• How to make delegating more simple.

• 5 Steps to lighten your responsibility load.

Mentioned On The Show:

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Hi!  This is Rachael Cunningham and you’re listening to joyful Love, episode 35

Hello everyone!

I am currently looking out my window at about 50 wild Turkey in my yard!

We live on the outskirts of the city and our neighborhood back up to woods and open fields. So even though we live in Nashville – we get to enjoy the wild-life of Tennessee on a regular basis.

We get to enjoy seeing Turkey, deer, possum, rabbits, and even the occasional skunk in our yard on a regular basis.

Cris and I often talk about moving when our kids leave the nest – but the truth is, if I move – I’m REALLY gonna miss this house. It’s not perfect – it was built in 1974 and it needs some work and TLC as all 40 something year olds do!

But over the past 5 years, I have settled into truly LOVING my home and even loving ON my home way more than I ever have in the past.

It’s a beautiful thing to let go of perfectionism and really start finding the beauty in what you already have.

It makes life more enjoyable, doesn’t it? Yes, I want to fix the garage door this summer and replace some carpet upstairs …. AND I have an incredible backyard.

I can hold space for both.

Anyway – that’s what I’m thinking about this morning! But it’s not what today’s episode is about!  Although now that I think about it … it could easily tie in.

Today I’m gonna share with you my thoughts on allllll the responsibilities that we have in life.

And how there is a common theme that many of my clients come to our calls with … the them that there is SOO much to do … and there’s not enough time for any of it.

Today, I want to challenge that belief that there is not enough time.

Most of us view that as just a fact: There is not enough time to do all that needs done.

But it’s not a fact. And it’s my intention to help you open you mind to the truth … which is that There is, in fact, PLENTY of time.

Now ….

The problem comes in when we, as women, moms, wives …. Take on more responsibility than we have to or want to.

So, our Culture, and society, and religions, and yes, the patriarchy … expects a lot out of women,  right?

There’s a lot of pressure that’s put on us.

We’re expected to be the perfect mom, keep our homes clean, help make money for the household, stay pretty, stay fit, make time for connection with our honey’s, make healthy meals, research the best schools, doctors, therapists, make and keep all the appts, organize and keep up with all the paper work … and now … so many of us are becoming entrepreneurs and creating businesses for ourselves…. But we’re not letting go of the responsibility of everything else too …

Oh … And in the process of all that … if we could maintain our energy and stay happy and bubbly throughout the day – then we could help everyone else around us be happy too — which for some reason, we’ve decided to take on that responsibility too … of keeping everyone happy.

As if we don’t already have enough to do.

Look, I get it.

There are a lot of things to do. It can feel overwhelming.

And many times our partners are busy too.

Especially if they run their own business — or have another job that doesn’t have a clear stopping point – they may work late hours and feel constantly overwhelmed too.

Or, maybe you have a partner who seems disengaged from family life. They’re on their phone a lot – may be with work or another project …. Or Maybe the come home and play video games or check out with tv or sports to unwind.

And even when they are trying to engage and be involved, they seem lost in how to help … You could ask them to help fold the laundry, but they don’t know which clothes belong to which kid … they don’t know which drawer to put things in … when they put away the dishes, you can’t find them the next day!

And choosing a doctor for your child? Oh forget about it!  They’d have no clue where to start! And you wouldn’t like their choice anyway! So you do it yourself!

This is the case for most marriages — our lives have become so separate – that our partners … usually husbands don’t know what’s going on in their own homes.

And the disconnection and struggle keeps amplifying.

You become resentful of your partners’ time to relax … you become frustrated that you can’t just ask for help and easily get it … and you resort to taking on all the home and parenting responsibilities yourself.

My colleague and fellow Life Coach School Coach,  Maggie Reyes calls it, “Responsibility Hoarding” and when I heard that, I thought, that is such a brilliant way to describe it!

Responsibility Hoarding.

I know that I have done this and felt this tension in the past – where I feel the need to keep juggling everything around me – to take on the responsibility of everything.

And it’s not like any of us plan to do this.

For many of us, when we have children – the natural tendency is that as mom, her job is to focus on literally keeping the baby alive with her own body many times …. And she slowly … sometimes quickly … assumes the role of being the sole care taker of the child.

And the home.

And the food.

And all the things.

Because she’s present with it …. She notices …. And takes on the responsibility.

I know this was the case when I had small kids.

And for part if it, it made perfect sense. Part of the way we chose to do things was because I WANTED it that way.

I stayed home with my children for a long time.

Cris took on the responsibility of finances.

And it worked for a long time for us.

I have zero regrets about our decision to divide it like that in the beginning. I think motherhood is a badass job and If given the choice again, I personally would make that decision again.

But … in the process of that, in the process of choosing to solely focus on parenting my young kids — I learned to responsibility hoard…

I didn’t ask for help when I needed it.

I overworked and over – did. And I became exhausted and resentful … just like so many women out there now.

And I thought that I was just doing it all wrong … I thought that other moms must have clean houses and be able to start businesses and do alllllllll the things – so instead of stepping back and making things work better for our family – I judged my self for not doing it all the right way — whatever that was! And I kept … hogging the responsibilities and feeling resentful and exhausted.

So – regardless of if you have young children, older children, or no children at all … if you are hogging all the responsibilities at home and you’re feeling the stress of that …. I want you to give yourself permission to stop.

You don’t have to do any of it!

I’m serious.

This one sentence, “I don’t HAVE to do any of this”  have given me so much peace in my life.

It’s helped me to drop criticism for my shortcomings.

It’s helped me to ask for help more.

It’s given me permission to rest more.

And most importantly … it’s given me freedom.

And you might be saying, Rachael – what are you talking about? We DO have to do these things … or it won’t get done!  Everything will fall apart!  The house will be trashed, we’d end up eating fast-food if my husband were in charge of that … and the kids would not get ANYTHING they need!

And yet … you still don’t have to do it.

How do we know? Because there are people in the world who don’t do it all ….

You have freedom to make your own choices.

So hear me out …. Let that sentence just sit in your mind for a minute …. You don’t HAVE to do anything. You have freedom. You could let it all go.

Just sit with that.

And then ask yourself, “But, what do I want?”

If I don’t HAVE to do anything …. What do I WANT?

For me?

I want rest.

I want alone time.

I want time to call friends and family.

I want time to read books regularly.

I want to go on walks and have a morning routine that sets me up for a successful day.

I want 7 – 8 hours of sleep every night.

But you know what I also WANT … not NEED … but WANT?

I want a clean house.

I want a yard that’s kept up.

I want my kids to know that I love them and will help them when they need my help.

I want my husband to know that he’s the only one for me! And I WANT to make time to look in his eyes and enjoy his company.

I also want to have a business that I’m proud of and enjoy doing.

I WANT these things.

I don’t HAVE to do anything to get them …. But do I want them? Hell yes!

Ask yourself the same …

Give yourself permission to ask yourself, “What do I want”?

Remind yourself, I don’t HAVE to have any of these things … I WANT them.

And be honest with yourself too…. Do you WANT the responsibility of choosing things for your kids … like the best doctors or the best sitters …. Do you want to be the one making the decisions for what foods you eat and HOW you organize certain things in your home?

If you WANT those things … let go of the judgment and criticism for your partner if they DON’T WANT that responsibility.

And if you DON’T want all that responsibility …. Stop hogging it. Let your partner take on some things… even if there’s a learning curve that needs to happen. Even if they won’t make the same decision that you would about your kids! Give yourself the gift of letting go of the need to do it perfect …. Let your partner do it — imperfectly if needed! And trust that it’s good enough! And trust that it might even be better than you trying to do it all!

This is going to be a challenge for those of you who really like to control everything. It’ll be a practice for yourself in letting go!

But it’s time to let go.

Because so many times we keep hogging all the responsibility and we get exhausted and blow up at our partners … We think, “why do you always forget things?”

And even though this occasional blow up can change things for a day or two … often, without intentional shifts in our family systems and without consistent communication — and without you making a clear choice to stop responsibility hoarding — things always go back to the way they were … because it’s easier.

Change in these areas can be simple … but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

It’s hard to make the changes of letting go of all the responsibilities … because your lizard brain wants to focus on the moment at hand.

Remember your lizard or primitive brain is constantly shaking ease and pleasure in the moment. It’s not thinking about the future consequences.

Right now, it’s easier to do this myself it says.

It would take more time right now to ask for help and to teach my kids or my partner how to do the task … so your primitive brain says “take the easy way right now.” Just do it the quick way.

And so years and years go by of taking the “easy way out in the moment” which ends up making our overall lives harder.

So notice when you’re doing this. Notice those moments of not wanting to explain things … so you just jump in, take over and do it quickly.

And just so you know, I am QUEEN of jumping in to do things quickly.

My brain tells me that I’d rather do it than explain it.

And so of course  I’m the one who knows where most things in the house goes.

But … here’s where I do want you to take responsibility …. If this is you too … recognize that this has been your choice up until now.

And if you want things to change – you must start with owning your part in this.

Not so  you can criticize yourself … but so that you can begin changing the things you WANT to change!

Let your HIGHER brain …. Your prefrontal cortex …. Decide on purpose to plan a way out of your current need to do it all.

To make change – you must allow your higher brain to over-ride your lower brain.

Bring intention into letting go of responsibility.

Trust your family to learn.

Let go of perfectionism and begin trusting others with some of your responsibilities….

But … only if you want to!

If you don’t want to trust others with different tasks … if you want to keep hogging all the responsibilities … that’s fine! But be honest with yourself…. You have the ability and the freedom to change this …. And you’re choosing to take the easy way out in the moment … rather than taking the time to create change in your family.

Bringing awareness to where YOU can make change – taking responsibility for what YOU can do to make a difference is going to help you have LESS to be responsible for in the future.

But you have to start now.

So … I’m going to break this down into to simple steps for you… If you’re ready for some massive change through simple actions …. Grab a pen and write these 5 steps down.  And then get started!

# 1. Stop telling yourself you HAVE to do it all. You don’t. You have freedom to choose what you do in life.

#2. Write down what you WANT. What are your priorities? Include REST in there. Include ALONE time.  And if those things that you WANT normally feel like stress …. Remind yourself, hey! I WANT this! I WANT the laundry to be caught up. I WANT clean kitchen counters! And just with that shift from I HAVE to to I WANT to ….

Watch yourself start to bring more joy into the mundane things of life. Bring fun into it!  I personally love cleaning my house on the weekends. I play music or a podcast … I make it a game with myself to see how quickly I can do it…. When my kids were little I’d either let them play or sometimes I’d invite them to help me with their little brooms and kid vacuums!  And other times I’d ask cris to take the kids out for the day so I could get more done, quicker and I could blast my music … whether that was Wanda Jackson or M.I.A as loud as I wanted while I cleaned!

Allow yourself to enjoy the mundane in life. What if it’s there FOR you to enjoy?

Practice the TRUTHFUL thought, “I have enough time for everything I WANT to do.”  You brain isn’t used to thinking that … but it’s a powerful belief to have. It’ll help you get clear on what you truly want in your life and what to let go of … it’ll also help you to focus and get things done quicker.

If I think, “there’s not enough time”. I’m gonna feel hopeless and want to procrastinate … creating the self-fulfilling profecy that, there’s not enough time.

But If I truly believe there is plenty of time – I’m gonna set forth to focus and prove that to myself! Even if that means delegating and asking for help in the process.

So – along with the thought, “I don’t HAVE to do any of it” … bring in the thought “I get to do the things I want and there’s enough time to do everything I want!”

#3. Communicate with your partner what you want. And don’t forget to ask them what they want too. Begin talking about ways you can both get what you want …

#4. And if you’re a person who hogs all the responsibilities like I tend to do … begin making the change now. Don’t wait until a better time. There is no better time. Choose one thing at a time to work on delegating.  ONE thing at a time!  Keep it simple for your brain to do hard things. When we complicate change … that’s when our primitive brain wins and talks us into giving up. Change and learning to delegate can be hard. But if you keep it simple …. With One thing at a time …. You’ll stick to that change that’s needed.

#5. The most important of all is to Take a break and let things go on purpose.

Did you hear that?

If your partner is resting and you’re feeling resentful because you’re doing the dishes …. Stop doing the dishes – go sit by your partner and say, “I’m gonna let the dishes go for now and sit down with you. I need rest too. ”  And then suggest … maybe we can both work on them later.

There is so much power in asking yourself what you truly want.

There is so much power in giving yourself permission to STOP working when you want to.

So yes … culture, the patriarchy, the natural instincts of a mother … all lead us to taking on more responsibility in life than we want to ….

But waiting for someone outside of yourself to FIX it … isn’t going to work.

YOU get to take responsibility for that change …. And in so doing … you’ll learn to delegate the responsibilities that you don’t want.

You’ll learn to find PEACE and joy in accomplishing the responsibilities you DO want!

But it starts with you knowing that you don’t have to do any of it!!

Now what do you WANT? Go do that!

Have fun this week with this!

Have fun bringing more joy, and more lightness to your life this week!

Oh… And don’t forget to leave me a review and rate me on iTunes if you haven’t already! It’s simple … you just go to the podcast app on your phone, go to the show Joyful Love, scroll to the bottom and you’ll see the option to give a 5 start rating and write a review!

 Tell others what you think of the show and how it’s helped you … and in turn, you’ll be helping others to get help they need too.

I’ll be back next week!

Until then – let love lead!