4 Lies That Keep You Stuck and Exhausted

Posted on February 14, 2020
 by Leslie Newman

The Drive Home

I was driving home after a long day. I was newly married and my city girl upbringing was being challenged in an old farm house out in the country. I had a new job that felt unbearable. My mind was racing with all the things - at work, at church, and inside the walls of my little house. It was a heavy load to bear. I felt stuck and exhausted.

Something was different that day. I could feel it, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Then I saw them - the dainty little leaves dancing softly on the roadway. The sun was casting shadows of the tree branches as they arched over my head while I passed under them. 

I looked up and saw the vibrant greens and my heart sank. Spring had come and gone and I had not even noticed. It hit me hard as the reality began to settle in. I had been so busy and absorbed with trying to manage my life that I had not even realized the seasons had changed. The beauties of spring that I had always taken time to enjoy had already passed me by. 

Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts. Psalm 90:12 HCSB

"Spring had come and gone, and I had not even noticed."

Lifestyle

That was the year that the unhealthy patterns in my life were starting to catch up with me, but I wouldn’t realize this for a very long time. I didn’t mind being busy. It was a way of life. Doing all the things was just the way it was supposed to be, so I thought.

It had always been hard to say no to anything that I was asked to do. If it was a good thing – something that would serve others, I thought that meant God had brought it my way. At the time I felt that saying no would cause others to be disappointed in me. I put even more pressure on myself with the concern that if I said no, I was letting God down. And I didn’t want to do that!

This lifestyle became the norm for me. I was doing things I felt called to do, things that I loved. But I was also doing things that weren’t ever meant for me in the first place. This kind of “doing” would keep me stuck in my own kind of inner turmoil and eventually would wear me down. I was hiding my exhaustion - even from myself.

You see, I looked good from the outside. I was responsible and dependable. I could get things done. But inside I was not doing well, especially the longer this went on. I was feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, and exhausted. Frustration and resentment were building inside, but I didn’t let it show. I just kept right on pushing through, ignoring those feelings all together.  

That’s what being overcommitted does. It keeps us in a state of denial.

That’s what being overcommitted does. It keeps us in a state of denial. Click To Tweet

Beliefs

There were false beliefs running underneath all that busy-ness: 

exhausted women believing lies

• I’m responsible for all the things.

• I’m a Christian. It wouldn’t be right to say no.

• I should be able to handle it all.

This was compounded by another lie that I kept repeating to myself over and over. 

"I shouldn’t be feeling this way."

My feelings were fighting against the false beliefs, but I ignored them. My emotions were valid though, and they were telling me an honest truth. They were letting me know that I couldn’t handle it all. But sadly, I didn’t know how to listen to them at that time in my life.

Hard Truths

Looking back I see some hard truths. I was a people pleaser and I was being overly responsible. There wasn’t one single thing in my life that I felt I could not be doing. I truly felt that doing all the things was the right thing to do. It’s no wonder I was so exhausted all the time.

My busy-ness was a cover-up, but I was in denial about that, too. I had no idea back then that I was running - running away from the things that mattered most. A lack of boundaries and my desire to please everyone was keeping me from important inner work that I needed to do to get unstuck from the things that were holding me back. I was depending on myself instead of leaning into what the Holy Spirit could do inside of me to help me grow. 

Sometimes it’s hard to face reality about how we spend our time. But it’s important to stop and evaluate what we are doing. Time is something we can’t get back once it’s gone.

But we have a choice! We can choose to work on our overcommitted lives and step out of the exhaustion and into a better pace of life. It’s hard work, but so worth it!

The Tool Box

If you’re feeling exhausted, you are not alone. The first step in getting over being exhausted is to come out of hiding. Admit that there’s a problem and take a look at realities about how you are spending your time. Here’s a way to do that.

The first step in getting over being exhausted is to come out of hiding. Click To Tweet

Step One

Evaluate your time. Consider tracking your time over a day, week, or even a month. Start recording how you spend all 24 hours. Think of it as a Time Check.

Step Two

After you complete your Time Check, read through your activities and pay attention to any emotions that surface as you look back over all that activity. It’s easy to dismiss our emotions and feelings, but they give us valuable information so it’s important to consider the information they give us.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • What emotions surfaced as you looked back over the things you are doing? 
  • What activities are attached to which emotions? 
  • Do your feelings and emotions give you any specifics about what activities cause you stress or exhaustion? These things are your would be your energy drainers. It’s important to take a look at those further and evaluate them. Is there anything that drains you that you can let go of? 
  • Did you notice things that you enjoy and that energize you? These may clues to your values or gifts and strengths. Activities that energize you and feeling fulfilling can be close to your God designed purposes.

Step Three

After you identify your emotions, you have more information to go on as you consider your stress/exhaustion level. Here are some additional questions to consider. 

  • On a scale of one to ten, where is your exhaustion level right now? 
  • What would it be like if you were still experiencing this same level of exhaustion in 6 months? A year? 5 years from now?
  • What one change in your calendar would make the biggest change in your stress level? 

Step Four

Now, think about the information you have. What is it telling you? Are there changes you need to make? 

Bonus

Take the four lies mentioned in this article. Write a truth that refutes each one!

Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts. - Psalm 90:12 HCSB Click To Tweet

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26 comments on “4 Lies That Keep You Stuck and Exhausted”

  1. This is such good advice, Leslie! Thank you so much for encouraging us to take a closer look at our state of mind and the way we use our time and energy. God bless you!

  2. This is so true! I believe at one time or another I have told myself these lies. I am so glad to see that someone else felt if it was something good then it must be from God. I used to feel this way until one day I could not carry anymore and I broke. I was diagnosed with high functioning depression. Which basically means I look like I have it al together on the outside but on the inside I was a hot bubbling mess. It is so awesome how you are reaching out and trying to help women with this. We really do need it!

    1. I think these lies are so common for many of us. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. It always helps me to know I’m not the only one who has struggled (and is still working on) these things in my life. I know it will help others who come along here, later, too! Thank you for adding such a valuable perspective to our conversation, Angela!

  3. Oh wow, you understand then! Just last year, I told one of my mentors, there was truly nothing I could give up to free my schedule!

    I'm seeing now that is not true and am slowly - slowly - backing away from things. I know one thing, I will think long and hard about saying yes to anything!

    1. It is hard to see what we can let go of. There’s lots of guilt associated with saying no, but when we figure out God’s purposes for our lives we can say no with confidence because it makes room for our best yeses! Thank you for sharing, Jarralea!

  4. You were telling part of my story in my younger days. 🙂 From the outside everything looks okay but inside is another story. So glad that God patiently lets us learn and grow and mature. This is full of wisdom here. So much of life is replacing our lies with truth and learning as we go.

    1. Oh yes, I’m so thankful for God’s patience and the things he sends us to help us learn and grow! And for sure - truth over lies is at the heart of the action plan for getting out of overly busy lifestyles. Thank you for visiting, Theresa!

  5. Such practical and helpful information/encouragment here. And so timely...as I have been wanting more to share with someone I'm trying to counsel. Always good to have an extra "been there/experienced it" opinion. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading it today!

  6. Wise words and practical ways of following through on these insights we gain through the process you've shared, Leslie! I especially love that you are coming from a "learn from my mistakes" perspective, sharing vulnerably with us! And I also love the look of your new site and logo! Very cool, indeed! Hugs to you, my friend!

  7. Great article, Leslie! I like how you covered the lies that convince us to over-commit. I think another lie is that busyness = our worth in others' eyes. So many think that the volume of what they do measures their value instead of the quality of what they do.

    1. So true, Nancy! This is a huge thing today and another lie that needs addressing. I really appreciate you mentioning that one. I’ve got a lot of experience with that kind of thing, but I was so blinded to it for such a long time! I really appreciate you mentioning that one. Thanks for visiting!

  8. I'm older, not that long in the faith and eager to learn all I can. So my "too much" issue is about wanting to read all the books, watch all the sermons, listen to all the podcasts, do all the Bible studies AND handle all the challenges of growing older without children or close family. Henry Cloud says that we lie to ourselves by our intentions to do things we never get around to doing. How do I get from intention to doing?

    1. Kathryn, I’m so glad to touch base with you here! You make a great point that “too much” means a lot of different things to different people. : ) You raise a great question, too, on how to get from intention to doing. It takes a lot to get there, doesn’t it? I think we all deal with that. I’m thinking of some things here at my house that have been intentions for a very long time that are still waiting to be done. That’s a great topic for a Q&A on my Facebook page. Do you mind if I use your question? Thanks again for visiting and for commenting!

  9. Leslie, It is so good to have you back! Your blog today is perfectly timed for my current life situation, just as your posts in Journey to Imperfect have been. I look forward to what you have in store for us!

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