Exhausted? Burned Out? Frustrated?

You may be OVERfunctioning!

Exhausted? Burned Out? Frustrated?

You may be OVERfunctioning!

As one who overfunctions, you get to do everything – your way! Sound familiar? Sound fun? Not so much. Here’s my story. Last year my friend Susan and I met for a girl’s weekend. I was looking forward to wine tasting and great conversation. She spent most of the weekend complaining about her husband. At one point she said, “He won’t commit to doing things with me, he says he wants to, but he won’t plan.”

I’m thinking … Get a life!!

After listening to her complain for two days, I got frustrated and, at one point, just blurted out, “You should just go by yourself and quit complaining!” Of course that didn’t go over well. The unsolicited advice (my attempt to solve her problem for her) was my classic over functioning. But even earlier in the weekend, my more subtle over-functioning behavior was listening to her incessant complaints but not sharing with her, that after a while, they made me feel frustrated and even resentful.

“Here is what you should do…”

Instead of asking “what do you plan to do about this?” I offered her unsolicited advice which she did not appreciate.

Janet Moczulewski

Are you an Over-Functioner?

Let’s see. When someone complains about their work or something that is not getting done, do you jump in to help? If they have a problem, will you solve it? If they appear unsure, do you give advice? If they get it wrong the first time, do you take over (because you know it will be done right). Do you think… If I don’t solve their problem, it will continue to grow and eventually fall on my plate anyway. Much better to solve all these problems now so they don’t become overwhelming for me later.

Sounds normal, right? Unfortunately, you can’t maintain this pace. It’s impossible. It’s not healthy.

When you overfunction you may become overwhelmed, exhausted, burned out and resentful. But what choice do you have when everyone needs you? When everyone around you is slacking or lazy or they don’t get it done correctly, in other words, your way?

This was me. This was my dilemma.

Fortunately, I learned about Resilient Leadership Development. Working with a Resilient Leadership Coach I learned about a concept called over and under-functioning.  I learned that to overfunction means “to think, feel or act for another in a way that erodes their own capacity for ownership or thoughtful action.” It’s a relationship pattern; anxiety fuels this pattern and the pattern fuels more anxiety.

Overfunction: “To think, feel or act for another in a way that erodes their own capacity for ownership or thoughtful action.”

I learned a “new way of seeing.” I learned that over and under-functioning is anxiety driven and a reciprocal phenomenon. In other words, if I overfunction at work or in family life, others will under function around me.

The more I’m anxious, the more I over function.

Anxiety is shared and others around me under function in response and, I become more anxious. Understanding the pattern, I learned how I contributed to my own dilemma. This new way of seeing allowed me to slow down and step back to observe what was really happening in my work and family. It has taken a lot of self-awareness and a lot of practice, but I have learned to calm my anxiety by resisting the urge to step in and rescue others, which then calms the anxiety in the whole system.  Each time I am able to resist this urge, I reverse my anxious energy and it makes the next time easier. I am less overwhelmed and there is less anxiety in me and the people around me.  With this “new way of seeing” I have a “new way of thinking.” Do I still have the urge to take over and give advice? Of course, but I no longer must follow that urge, I am able to choose my actions.


Janet Moczulewski, LMFT
Resilient Connections, PLLC
To learn more about over/underfunctioning from Janet, contact her at https://resilientconnections.com. To learn more about the principles of Resilient Leadership, please email Jim Moyer at jimm@resilientleadershipdevelopment.com.

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