An excerpt from Overwhelmed and Over It by Christine Arylo
Women stretched beyond capacity. Women struggling to get it all done. Women sacrificing themselves to take care of everything and everyone else. Not just for a moment or a season, but as an ongoing cycle from which they can’t break free.
In her new book Overwhelmed and Over It: Embrace Your Power to Stay Centered and Sustained in a Chaotic World, bestselling author Christine Arylo offers women who have come to accept the frenzied, fast pace with which they live and work to stand up and say: “This way of working isn’t working. And it has to change now!” We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.
Asking for support does not make you weak; it makes you wise. Cultivating sisterhood isn’t a nice-to-have; it’s a necessity. When a woman feels supported, she thrives. When she feels connected and held in sisterhood, she exhales. When she tries to do it on her own, she flounders, drowns, and depletes herself. So why can it be so hard to ask for support? Why do we lack the deeper sisterhood and connection we crave, and just make do without it? Why is it that even when support shows up — whether it’s a simple act, like a man offering to take your suitcase down from the overhead bin on an airplane, or someone making a bigger offer to help you with a project or personal situation that involves the giving of time, money, or effort — you refuse or repel the support rather than receive it with grace?
We have become so self-sufficient as self-empowered women that we have become overly self-reliant.
We’ve become so used to doing whatever needs doing that we don’t pause to consider that we may need help to do it. We don’t consider that if we don’t have the resources we need, maybe we shouldn’t take it on. We’ve grown so accustomed to having to fight for what we need or just barely scrape by that we’ve gotten used to making do and doing more ourselves.
We seem to be stuck in a vicious cycle in which the responsibility to do it all on our own, without sufficient support, is our reality. Like Olympic weightlifters, we’ve hoisted the burdens on our shoulders, and held them there. But truthfully, too many women are buckling at the knees, and our girls are feeling the pressure much too young. I’ve witnessed women break bones, get sick, lose breasts, because only then, when their physical bodies broke down or got slowed down, were they forced to receive support. And even still, they resisted receiving. Needing others made them feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. Not being able to take care of themselves made them feel weak, lazy. This was not their fault, nor is it your fault if you’ve experienced a major health or life crisis that required you to receive help. I am being blunt and real with my language because my fierce feminine heart is saying, No more, for any and all of us. This deep imprinting against receiving support has made it almost impossible for us to receive what we need — so much unnecessary guilt, shame, judgment, and overgiving — and it’s costing us in significant, life-altering ways.
Our inability to receive as women has an impact on our physical, emotional, and mental health and quality of life, as well as our intimate relationships, families, desires, and work, in big ways. And in small ways with respect to how we block support — whether it’s a compliment or an offer to take care of something for us. I see it every time I hold a retreat and women arrive to check in and are greeted by my partner, Noah, who offers to take their bags. Noah stands over six feet tall, is 250 pounds, and like a gentle giant can carry three times what we could without breaking a sweat. You would think most women would gladly hand over their heavy bags. After all, they are on a retreat. But oh no! Over half react from some deeply embedded protective response: “No, I’ve got it!” In other words, “Back off, Mr. Man. I’m a self-empowered woman who does not need a man’s help.”
The other half pause for a moment to take in what has just occurred. I watch their eyes and can see their internal operating systems shifting, hearts and heads upgrading. These wise women, instead of contracting or asserting their she-woman strength, open their hearts. They receive Noah’s offer of support. As each one hands Noah her bags, I witness her exhale. Imprint breaker. Consciousness elevator. The bags, a metaphor for all the responsibility she carries in her life, have just been given to someone else to take away. The women realize they need to set down the burden of their lives. They received the unexpected support, and now they are free! The other half struggle and sweat their way to their rooms, once again choosing to carry the burden versus receive support.
This inability to receive support without guilt or apology has got to stop, now. Our lives, our missions, and the lives of our children depend on it.
Self-Sustainability Stands for Strengthening Your Capacity to Receive
Next are some self-sustainability stands that can help you cultivate support and sisterhood now.
1. I receive, versus refuse, support. Whether it’s a simple compliment or an offer of money, time, or effort, instead of contracting or blocking the support, open up to receive the support.
2. I receive support without feeling guilty or like I have to give in return. Embrace what is being offered as a gift, without feeling like you have to give in return or like you are a burden.
3. I know what I need, and I name it, without apology. Be direct and clear about what you need, instead of feeling like you have to prove or justify your needs. Then be open to how the support comes, as it often shows up in ways different than you think.
4. I make choices based on the resources actually available. In the running of your life, family, organization, team, and projects, operate based on the support you actually have, not the resources you wish you had or were promised.
5. I cultivate a strong web of support and sisterhood so the support is there when I need it. Create this support web for yourself as if your life depends on it, because it does. Don’t rely on just one person or one community. Cultivate multiple meaningful connections with individuals and communities — it’s about quality, not quantity — in which you connect in person and online; both are needed. This web will be what holds you when the challenges, doubt, and swirl stir you up.
6. When I set goals for what I desire to achieve, I also name the support I need to receive. When you set your intentions and plans for your business, organization, wealth, health, relationships, self-expression, and so on, use the four Wings of Support to identify the support you need. This way, giving and receiving will both be woven into how you work, create, relate, and operate.
You now know that in order to reach your goals, meet the demands of your life, and stay sustained, receiving support and sisterhood is a nonnegotiable. Your role is to get clear on what you need, ask for it, and open up to receive it, however it comes. This is a practice for how you design your life and meet both the expected and unexpected challenges and opportunities that come your way.
Christine Arylo, MBA, is the author of Overwhelmed and Over It. As a transformational leadership advisor, three-time bestselling author, and host of the popular Feminine Power Time podcast, she is recognized worldwide for her work helping women to make shifts happen — in the lives they lead, the work they do, and the world they wish to create. Arylo offers workshops globally and lives near Seattle. Visit her online at OverwhelmedandOverIt.com.
Excerpted from the book Overwhelmed and Over It. Copyright ©2020 by Christine Arylo. Printed with permission from New World Library.