Are You Over-doing It?

counselling stress brightonWe’ve all encountered people who do a lot. Or perhaps we like to be doing ourselves? People who do stuff are useful to have around as they are excellent at getting things done! However, there often comes a point when a limit is reached and doing tips into over-doing. How can counselling or psychotherapy help?

The Person Who Does
There are many advantages to being a person who does. If this is us, we often –

  • are organised
  • are generally capable and competent
  • function well at work
  • take responsibility
  • socialise frequently, and
  • are fairly self-sufficient.

Problems can arise, however, when our doing gets out of control. Perhaps we over-do to the point of exhaustion or where we end up making ourselves ill. Maybe we find ourselves being the one who accommodates what others want and whose emotional needs never seem to be taken into consideration. Eventually, we might become fed up with taking responsibility for tasks and chores that other people don’t want to do. Sometimes, we might try and step back from doing quite so much but then become upset (or indignant) when others don’t step up to the plate or put pressure on us to change back to how we were before.
Excessive doing can also have a detrimental effect on our relationships in other, more subtle ways. If we do a lot of doing (often at speed) this can be met with irritation as it can make other people feel inadequate, sidelined or encroached on. The atmosphere can also become charged so that everyone finds it difficult to relax. Over-doing for our children deprives them of valuable life experiences like taking responsibility for themselves, making mistakes and dealing with the consequences of not doing what they need to do in a timely fashion.
If we are someone who over-does, we might find it particularly stressful when we can’t do as we usually do e.g if we are ill or need to be in hospital. We might also find it hard to be dependent on others and accept that their standards might be different to ours e.g. how they might tidy and clean the home.
The Origins of Over-doing
A strategy for approaching life which involves over-doing often starts in childhood and continues to develop over many years – especially if it has become familiar to the point where we are unaware that other, less energy-consuming strategies might serve us better. Perhaps, as children, we interpreted messages from the adults taking care of us that we must do or achieve in order to be loved and accepted. Also, families often have certain expectations regarding who does what based on their children’s gender or their position in the family, e.g. as the eldest child. Another factor behind excessive doing might come from a need for neatness and control in order to feel emotionally safe.
How Counselling & Psychotherapy Can Help
If you are over-doing (or living with a partner who over-does) signs that there is a problem usually show through stress, fatigue, illness or relationship difficulties. Physical symptoms might also include neck and back pain when you find yourself shouldering more than your fair share of responsibilities. Working collaboratively with a therapist can help shed light on how excessive doing is impacting on your own life as well as the lives of those around you. You may then decide to experiment with new strategies for dealing with life that might involve tolerating less doing and a slightly less ordered world whilst all the time strengthening the connections you have with the people you care about.
If you live or work within reach of Brighton and Hove and my approach to psychotherapy and counselling interests you, please contact me via email or telephone 07585 910742 for more information and to arrange an initial consultation. Emailing in the first instance seems to work best.
Copyright Caroline Clarke, Counselling and Psychotherapy in Brighton and Hove
Image courtesy of Suat Eman at

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