Say it with me: Every problem I see is not mine to address.
Whew! That is a hard fact to accept for those of us that feel called to literally change the world. And even if you aren’t compelled to change the whole entire world, I’d be willing to bet that there are some situations or even (and especially) people in your life that you would be thrilled to change.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak with a gentleman in my neighborhood. As I was inquiring about lessons he’s learned over the years, he said a common phrase that I heard growing up when myself, my sisters, and cousins were getting a bit rowdy: “sit down somewhere!”
Who knew those three words could be such a powerful motto? Sit. Down.
How can we determine when we need to have a seat?
We can figure this out by looking at the opposite of sitting down: getting up, running around – simply doing too much. Doing too much could also be known as over-extending.
According to good-old Google and Oxford Languages, to “overextend” is to impose an excessive burden of work or commitments. When we over-extend ourselves, we take on an excessive burden.
Here are a few signs of over-extension:
- Getting less quality sleep – The key word here is quality. We know we’re getting quality sleep when we wake up feeling rested and ready for the day ahead. On the contrary, waking up feeling drained and still tired is an indication that the sleep isn’t quality.
- Lying to yourself and others – This could look like promising yourself that you’ll get to an item on your to-do list or make time for self-care and then continually not doing it. It could also look like agreeing to deadlines that just don’t work.
- Yes is your favorite word (ever – like in the whole entire English language). But seriously – When is the last time you said no?
Alright, so now that we can see the some of the ways we may overextend, let’s revisit our definition: to overextend is to impose an excessive burden of work or commitments. This gets especially dangerous when we start taking on work that is not even ours to do.
The serenity prayer is an excellent compass.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
If we break this down, we can get a sense of what’s actually ours to do and when we need to have several seats.
OURS TO DO: Accept the things we cannot change. This includes people (their minds, thoughts, behaviors, desires, goals, etc.) You can, of course, share your perspective and walk alongside others.
NOT OURS TO DO: Change things I cannot – do the work for others.
OURS TO DO: Ask God for courage to change the things you can. This is all YOU! You can change your own mind, thoughts, behaviors, goals, etc.
NOT OURS TO DO: Go through life without seeking the wisdom to know the difference.
Try this: The next time you encounter a problem, challenge, or request that you feel responsible to address, pray the serenity prayer. Get clear on what is yours to address and what simply needs to be accepted. Do your part, and then have a seat.
What are your thoughts on over-extension? What to do you to ensure you’re in your own lane?