Sunday, February 20, 2011

Too much of a good thing

February 20, 2011

Dear friends,

Have you noticed the changes that are related to fatigue?

There are physical changes, of course—decreased attention span, decreased speed of response, inattention to detail, gradual decreases in strength and agility, for example. There are emotional changes as well—decreased patience, increased irritability, greater self-absorption often coupled with a dangerous loss of self-control, lessened awareness of the fragility and vulnerability of others, and steady erosion of the energy required to translate love and respect into action.

One of the dangers of functioning as a workaholic, I think, lies in this steady subtle erosion of the energy to act lovingly.

This last month I was surprised by a series of events that made an unexpectedly severe drain on my energy. One evening as I was preparing to leave my office I remembered two client-related phone calls I had failed to make. Although it was “after hours” I made both calls before I closed up shop for the day.

Later, recalling an important friend with whom I had not communicated for several weeks, I thought, “She knows I love her. I am just too tired to call tonight. I’ll do that tomorrow.”

By living that day too close to the margin, I had out of old habits placed a priority on work responses at cost to this relationship that I value highly. My affection for my friend had not changed, but my capacity to express that affection in ways that could be seen and sensed had been seriously compromised.

When I fail to embrace the limits of my human vulnerability (translate concretely: schedule more hours that I can appropriately handle), I am rarely the only person who suffers from the changes that occur. Failure in appropriate personal self-care produces community loss in love and relationship. No matter how good my intentions, that is a bad bargain.

What good things are you doing too much of? Who loses from your loss of energy to love?

Seeking with you the honesty to do only what I am empowered to do.

See you next week.



  1. I think that on that particular evening you made a good choice about whom to love next. You had found almost the last reserve of energy to participate in God's redemptive activities for the day and expended it on the most needy recipients, your clients. "Playing" with God is often exhausting, and you'd "played" about all the love music that day that you could manage. So you decided the next most needy recipient of God's love, attention, and redemption was YOU! Good choice!

    I'm not so sure you're a "bad manager" investing too much time in work, as you just have so much zest for loving others that you get carried away with it to the point of exhaustion.

    I suspect your dear friend would completely concur that it was time for you to love you, and that she is happy to wait patiently til God puts the score on your music stand that has her name at the top.

    Could it be that the music compositions some of us need to practice and become more proficient in playing are the scores with our own name at the top? Could it be that music will be as beautiful to those who are savoring the performance as when we play the scores with others' names at the top?

  2. I am a fatigued worker that has experienced the above said symptomology. I would concur that during the times I cho0se to work, work, work--it does effect relationships, which are the community where I get re-energized. I have found that when I personally become over involved at work and choose not to connect with my community I become weaker and less effective. A once in a while, is very different than chronic over working for me. I would agree that I do best when I recognize my limits. It sure is hard in the midst, as I am tempted to become self focused and judgemental. I do not like that part and cherish the reminder to be mindful of what the heck I am doing in my day to day choices...Blessings Janet