- Feeling exhausted, but not able to sleep.
- No time for yourself.
- Unable to be in the moment.
- Adrenalised often.
- Unable to maintain focus on one thing.
- Brain fog.
- Emotional imbalance,
- Feeling a sense of disconnection,
- Usual coping strategies no longer effective.
I often see these states or symptoms in the counselling room, and they can be all encompassing for clients. Most of us lead busy lives and have managed for many years to be effective and keep the balance through difficult times. And then gradually symptoms intensify, they are accepted as the norm and we live with the exhaustion, the low mood and the brain fog etc.
This is not a surprise when we consider that society is set up to value a culture of ‘pushing through’. We have become very adept at pushing down basic human needs and switching off from our emotions, gut feelings or that inner wisdom that assists us in making healthy decisions.
This can come at a cost when we find that we lack motivation or struggle to lift ourselves out of challenging times and bounce back as we used to. Relationships can be affected as we grapple with difficult feelings of overwhelm.
Transactional analysis offers an interesting view of potential drivers that can keep us locked into unhealthy patterns:
People pleasing is a fantastic way to get people on our side, to like us and to make us feel connected and needed. However, people pleasing comes at a cost because we tend to be more externalised i.e. we tailor what we do or say to appeal to friends, family and work colleagues etc. At the route of this, we can often lack self worth, making it challenging to assert our own needs.
Perfectionists will be reliable and revered for high standards, this all feels great until perfectionism gets exhausting in a world that is not perfect. We could have come from a family with high expectations, judgement and criticism. There is a need to do everything right, which then distracts us from focusing on what is actually intrinsically important for us on a deeper level.
The Achiever really feeds into our need to be validated and recognised (we may not have experienced that growing up). However, are we seeking recognition in the wrong places setting us up for a fail? If our self concept is linked predominately to results and achievements we may focus on a single area of life for example work, leaving relationships, wellbeing and life purpose as low priority.
Be Strong – We may have been raised in an environment where emotions are not encouraged, invited or accepted like the “boys don’t cry” belief where it doesn’t feel natural to share how we feel and being vulnerable doesn’t feel safe. Again this, can get us through tough times however, if we are switched off or unable to process emotions the effects will be held in our body, and often manifests later as anger or shutdown (depression/apathy).
Hurry up – The really busy person, who rushes around and does everything quickly. They are like superhero’s from the outside and seem to have endless energy and purpose. Relaxing is not high on their priority list. This person is often highly adrenalised and only feels of value to themselves or others if they are of purpose. It literally becomes their identity. Are they able to stop, come up for air and allow the mind and body to get what it needs to maintain wellbeing? Often not, because emotions like loss, sadness, guilt or isolation that arise in the still moments, may not feel comfortable and be suppressed.
It’s worth noting that driver patterns can of course be valuable, and we can all have a touch of each of them, they can also be used as a force in our lives. However, after time and momentum they can have the opposite effect, where they are working against our intrinsic needs and making us unhappy. Sometimes just having awareness of the patterns that we are running can be helpful. Also, some appreciation of the type of upbringing and messages we received in childhood that maintain these patterns can offer insight. We can choose to interrupt certain processes if they are getting in the way of enjoying life fully.