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The Overachiever’s Serenity Prayer: Calming Your Inner Overlord(ess)

Someone (maybe me) grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot accomplish,
The grounding and energy to accomplish the things I can,
And the wisdom to know what has to give.”
– Jenna Freedman

As New Yorkers, we are programmed, by osmosis of the city’s energy, to do more, be more, or to otherwise be engulfed by our wants, needs, and schedules. We are blessed because so much is made available to us here – 24 hour restaurants, pop-up art, store, and music installations, the blend of Old New York and the New York that is always re-inventing itself, and the merging of cultures like no other. And, because we are a center for fashion, business, commerce, and any kind of service, pleasure, or emerging trend, we also get first dibs on what is up-and-coming.

For some, this can also be a curse, as well, to be so tapped in. Because when you know that there is so much available to you, and you want to make the most of everything you’re given, you can easily want to do it all! And, sometimes, we do, for a while. Until our adrenals begin to cry out for help!

Does this sound like you, wanting to do everything? Forcing yourself to do “just one more thing”, simply because you haven’t yet collapsed on the floor, thus making it physically impossible for you to accomplish said task?

If so, you just may be part of the very populated ranks of the Overachievers!

You don’t need to live in New York City to be one, as long as you possess that incessant drive to want to do everything, and possibly overextend yourself in the process, leaving you with moments when you feel fatigue, somewhat resentful (at yourself, as well as others for what you view as their imposition onto your schedule), and perhaps feeling like you’re always on the run, trying to get on top of your elusive life rhythm and task list, which seems to continue to grow exponentially, like magic. Saying “No” may not be a very common in your vocabulary. After all, there’s so much to do!

This is not to be confused with the Perfectionist, by the way, which some people get confused with the Overachiever. The Perfectionist is obsessed with being perfect, executing things perfectly, and making sure every “i” is dotted, and every “t” is crossed. Whereas, the Overachiever is obsessed with doing it all. For some folks, there is a blurry line between the two.

Enter the Overachiever’s Serenity Prayer.

The Overachiever’s Serenity Prayer is a take from the original Serenity Prayer that was authored in the early 1900’s, and later adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step programs. The Serenity Prayer is powerful, because it helps give us strength when we experience massive challenges in life. In fact, my parents have a small, stained glass rendition of this prayer on my Mom’s desk at home, it’s provided such solace.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.”

My friend, and patient, Jenna Freedman (thank you for letting me share your brilliance with my readers, Jenna!), a renegade librarian and smart cookie, recently coined the juicy and empowering Overachiever’s Serenity Prayer:

Someone (maybe me) grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot accomplish,
The grounding and energy to accomplish the things I can,
And the wisdom to know what has to give.”

At first, she did so, in jest, as a way to bring some calm to her overachieving ways. I thought it was absolutely brilliant, due to the fact that so many of us can relate to this, and so many people could benefit from having a calming affirmation when their ego wants to take center stage.

In addition, aspects of overachieving (and perfectionism, for that matter) are actually quite addictive. Addiction comes in many forms, not just as the more well-known addiction to recreational substances. But, that’s another topic for another post (and, yes, I will go there, especially because there are aspects of Chinese Medicine and energywork when it comes to addiction).

In addition to taking in the wisdom of the Overachiever’s Serenity Prayer, try out these tools to calm your Inner Overlord(ess):

  1. Take a look at your “To Do” list, and take off an item (maybe two, if you want to be extra daring). The truth is, not all of what’s on our list of things to do is going to make or break us. Make peace with the fact that sometimes things can be left undone, that the world will continue to spin, and that if it presents itself as a priority in the future, you can address it at that time.
  2. Realize that “No” is a complete sentence. The first time I read, many years ago, that “No” was a complete sentence, that blew my mind. Because, really, it’s that simple, and we humans can make things so complicated. If you don’t want to do something, don’t do it! Otherwise, you begin to harbor resentment, which can later seep into your interactions with others, and yourself.
  3. Check in with yourself and assess if it’s time for a break, or if what you’re doing can wait till the next day, or week. Overachievers are like the Eveready bunny, they just keep on going and going! They will continue to press onwards, even if their body, and mind, is at capacity. Thing is, oftentimes they won’t realize they are at capacity, because they do not check in with themselves often enough. If this sounds like you, create more mindfulness around your activity by checking in with yourself once and a while – are you eating regularly and mindfully?, how is your breathing? (make sure you’re breathing from the navel, and not shallowly through your chest, which indicates that your sympathetic nervous system is verging on “fight or flight”), is any part of your body tensing up in such a way that you could use a stretch break?
  4. Practice self-acceptance. Sometimes, we can press on with duties that can otherwise wait for later, due to the fact that we feel more worthy when we accomplish more. More work = more worth. This is actually not the case, since more often than not, more work = a more challenged sense of center. And, besides, your worth is not based on how effectively you can work yourself to the bone, and how many tasks you complete, but it is measured in joy. And, if that’s how joy is measured, one may be waiting for joy for a long time, because there’s always some task that can be done. Instead, accept yourself as you are, and acknowledge that you are able to love all of yourself, even if you don’t get today’s “To Do”, done.
  5. Give your Kidneys some love. In Chinese Medicine, when we overextend ourselves, we tax our Kidney energy. This often is a result of burning the candle at both ends. This results in our adrenals feeling shot, and we may feel fatigue. When we are chronically overextending ourselves, we venture into using up our jing (Kidney essence). There are many ways to show the Kidneys some love: Acupuncture and/or Reiki treatments, herbs (Chinese formulas or Western infusions), incorporating downtime to rejuvenate through rest and meditation, and also eating for the Kidneys. Check out my previous post, “Traditional Chicken Bone Broth: A Recipe To Build Qi And Blood For Immune Building, Fertility, And Postpartum”, which shows you how to create a jing-nourishing bone broth.

Do you have a favorite way to calm down your Inner Overlord(ess)?
Share it in the comments below, I’d love to know!

In serenity,

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Copyright © 2014 by Alcantara Acupuncture & Healing Arts. All rights reserved. You may quote, copy, translate and link to this article, in its entirety, on free, non-donation based websites only, as long as you include the author name and a working link back to this website. All other uses are strictly prohibited.

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2 Comments

  1. Renegade Librarian
    August 31, 2014

    “Realize that ‘No’ is a complete sentence.”

    That’s just brilliant, because it’s something I truly don’t know. As an overachiever and as a librarian (which is to say a pleaser), I find leaving a “but…” impossible to leave off a “No.”

    I also appreciate the Energizer Bunny reference!

    Looking into vegan chicken bone broth…

    <3

    Reply
    • Margarita Alcantara, M.S.Ac., L.Ac., Reiki Master/Teacher
      September 1, 2014

      I’m glad you liked the “No is a complete sentence” part! Yes, it blew my mind when I realized that point.

      Although vegan chicken bone broth may not do the trick when it comes to jing (and hard to find!), some vegan sources to help the jing can also come in the form of foods such as: nuts, seaweeds, algae, nettles, artichoke leaves, among some tasty alternatives!

      Hugs,
      Margarita

      Reply

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