Surely you’ve heard the phrase “too blessed to be stressed.”
Or this one: “You can’t be grateful and stressed at the same time.”
I can’t tell you about the science. I’m not here to tell you what hormones are released in the human body when we count our blessings and what’s happening chemically when we feel stressed. But I can tell you from personal experience that it is very possible to be incredibly grateful and incredibly overwhelmed at the very same time.
As a full-time work-outside-the-home mother and a grad student, I am very, very busy. I am far busier than I have ever been in my life. Between juggling my workload, all of our after-school activities, and my personal school work, I am underwater. I’ve become a pretty good little dog paddler lately, but it’s not easy.
As I write this, I’m running back and forth between the computer and my son’s bath, helping him rinse out shampoo, and making sure his clothes make it to the hamper and his dishes make it to the sink. My husband, thank the heavens for him, is moving laundry from the washer to the dryer, but not without several questions about what can and cannot be dried. I have nine windows open on my computer right now. Some are tax forms, some are school work, some are related to FWMB, and some are homework. Who knows how many things you have on the burner while you’re reading this. I bet you aren’t sitting alone in your bed sipping coffee and thinking about all the free time you will enjoy today.
Let me be super clear: All of my obligations are blessings.
I do not forget for one second that I am living the high life over here in suburbia. Things could be so much worse, so much harder for me, than they are. They could maybe be a lot worse for you, too.
But, do you know what? Just because you are super lucky and very blessed doesn’t mean that it’s not okay to feel stress and pressure. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t allowed to say, “Wow! This is hard.” Shame never did anything positive for anyone. Comparison never made anyone happier. And all that guilt is not doing anything to lighten your load. If anything, it’s making it heavier.
Let it go.
I officially give you permission to feel the stress, to say to yourself, “This feels like too much. I need some help.”
And, if you are saying things to your friends like, “Count your blessings,” or “It could be worse,” or “You can’t be grateful and stressed at the same time,” I bet you are trying to be encouraging. I bet your heart is in the right place. I sincerely thank you for your good intentions, but brace yourself . . . . It’s actually pretty insensitive.
Maybe try saying instead, “That’s a lot,” or “You are working so hard,” or “I’m so proud of you.” And, if you are beating yourself up over there, feeling guilty about feeling overwhelmed, maybe take a look in the mirror and say those things to yourself.
Because it is a lot. You are working so hard.
I’m pretty proud of you.