10 Signs You’re Overextending Yourself


Let’s face it, I’m not good at weathering storms, dealing with attacks on multiple fronts, or saying “no,” especially when it comes to just about anyone. Which means I end up being no good to anyone especially myself. I think it’s time to rethink my exit strategies.


How about you? Can you muster up a hardy “no” if the situation calls for it? If not, read on, because I’ve created a personalized script for you to practice with in front of the mirror, and together we’ll slowly learn the art of self-preservation. 

Look at me (You’ll have to use your imagination).

I’m a walking billboard for chronic middle-age syndrome (overextended, massive temporomandibular joint issues, but still smiling) because according to Dionne Warwick, “you can always count on me.” Who knows the full extent of the damage we endured after being force fed lyrics like these during our impressionable years. Lord have mercy.


Speaking of mercy, I find myself repeatedly telling God, “mysterious signs are so out, use your words” (even though that didn’t work out so well a few thousand years ago).

I’ve had plenty of ambiguous signs: lung issues, broken foot, chronic cough, insomnia (due to the gigantic cast I’m forced to sleep with), congestion, emotional instability, and a spliced finger. YES, IT’S MY RIGHT HAND. There’s really nothing left on me to mangle. 

It is shockingly obvious I am not fluent in sign language ~ I’d rather you speak slowly and perspicuously. 

I’m afraid to get up in the morning and slip out to the patio for a cup of coffee. I might trip over the dog (again), be attacked by enraged crows (unlikely in Campbell but it is garbage day), or fall to the ground because the fabric decides to give on the patio chair. Times are tumultuous, use extreme caution, God doesn’t play by the rules. She never has.

A person in my situation might stop and ask herself what the hell is going on? 

a. I’m the unluckiest person in the world.
b. Karma’s a bitch.
c. God is bored.
d. It’s time for an overhaul.
e. I need a vacation. 

The answer is…all of the above.

10 Signs you’re Overextended:

1. Chronic Fatigue – Do you find yourself yawning at inappropriate moments? Falling asleep in the middle of a conversation (Larry)? Drinking gallons of coffee before noon? Wearing sunglasses at the office to cover the huge bags under your eyes? Dosing off while waiting for your dogs flea medication? Check the Box!

2. Sickness – Continual visits to the doctor, resistant infections, lots of snot, sleeping in a lounge chair two or more nights in a row? You find your spouse snoring under a mermaid comforter in the guest room because your seventeenth Ricola is not working. Do you NyQuil and chill more than twice a week? Check the Box!

3. Clumsy – Tripping over curbs, dogs, babies, toys, and footstools? Slicing and dicing your delicate appendages? Attempts at emptying the dishwasher are a catastrophic loss? No one wants to play darts with you?  Check the Box!

4. Confused – Unclear about why you entered or left a room? Can’t remember the date, the time, what the president is tweeting about? Why you gave up wine? The name of your firstborn? Which of the 5 remotes turns on the television. Check the Box!

5. Emotional – Do Frigidaire commercials make you cry? Did you burst into tears when you burnt the last piece of toast? When someone said, “Happy Mother’s Day,” did you sob uncontrollably in the lobby? Did you have a total melt-down while standing in line at the DMV? It happens. Check the Box!

6. Eye Twitches – Do you have spastic eye twitches that are especially active when trying to maintain eye contact with your boss? Have you considered skin colored duct tape as a viable solution to resolving the twitch? Would you rather confess to a botched face lift than admit you’re overextended? Check the Box!

7. Temporary Tourette’s – Have you said something out of character lately? Used vocabulary that would make Gordon Ramsey blush? Didn’t realize you were verbalizing your thoughts on salvation in a crowded elevator. Check the Box!

8. Weight Change – If you have fluctuated one ounce, Check the Box!

9. Pimples – This really seals the deal, if one red, flaming, pustule appears anywhere on your face, check the damn box!

10. Goggling a Therapist – This is not a red flag, this is the white flag, and yes I’ll take the first available appointment. Check the Box!

Three or more boxes and you might need to reevaluate your current commitments and your wavering ability to say “NO.” I tell my students to practice in front of the mirror before presentations. You can do this with any life situation so you’re prepared to hold up the hand when necessary. Practice. Practice. Practice.

“Innovation is saying no to a thousand things” Steve Jobs



“No, that’s not possible, I have a conflict.” 

“Oh no darling, this does not work for Cheryl (fill in appropriate name).” 

“Oh my goodness, I’ll be out of town for the next (insert: When did you need me?) yes, that.” 

“Let’s return to this particular issue at our next meeting, in the fall, adjourned!” 

“I’d love to but I’ll be on tour promoting the benefits of prunes all summer.” 

“It just so happens I’m allergic to dust and mortified I won’t be able to help with the clean-up.”

“This is not compatible with my religious views but I will pray for you.”


“I can not possibly take on… but this is what I can do.”

“Not today and tomorrow doesn’t look good either.”

“I believe there is someone more qualified for this job.”

“No, I’m staying home to work on my soap sculpture.”

“I would love to but I can’t be separated from my therapy alligator and she’s not well trained.” 

“We must say “no” to what, in our heart, we don’t want. We must say “no” to doing things out of obligation, thereby cheating those important to us of the purest expression of our love. We must say “no” to treating ourselves, our health, our needs as not as important as someone else’s. We must say “no.” ― Suzette R. Hinton

Take the word should out of your vocabulary. Easy peasy. Anna Taylor reminds us, “love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious.  You get to choose how you use it.  You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept.” When we claim more than we can handle, we limit the opportunities for another person in our community notes Jeff Shinabarger.  Suzette Hinton comes right to the point, “if the person you’re talking with continues to press you for more or can’t seem to accept your answer, then you are being harassed, I know that sounds hard for people-pleasers to accept, but it’s true. No means no.
“Until you learn how to confidently say NO to so many things, you shall always say YES to so many things. The real summary of a regretful life is a life that failed to balance YES and NO. Yes! A life that failed to recognize when to courageously say NO and when to confidently say YES!” Ernest Agyemang Yeboah
Anecdotes:
  • Yes to new pajamas.
  • No to a garage sale.
  • Yes to yoga.
  • No to restructuring your filing system.
  • The early bird might catch the worm but that only matters if you like to fish. 

I’m Living in the Gap, drop in, we’ll practice saying No

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