Balancing Multiple Demands

Our culture demands that we juggle many commitments and wear many hats - those of a career, parent, partner, philanthropist, entertainer, athlete, etc. This overwhelming pressure to be the best at so many things can take an immense toll on our physical and mental health. Since I am a mental health specialist, let me approach that area. I'll save the physical health advice for your PCPs.

First, let me start by saying that you DO NOT have to be all things to all people. You have my permission to choose a few things to focus on or even to accept mediocrity. Sometimes, this is actually the most effective way to achieve your goals. To use an analogy from school, it's always better to turn in a C paper than to turn nothing in and get a zero/F.

Now that you've chosen a few areas to focus on, practice being compassionate with yourself when you do not succeed or when you start to feel overwhelmed. This seemingly simple task is always difficult. One trick is to imagine that you are helping someone other than yourself whom you care for deeply (e.g., a child, pet, friend). Then, think about how you would treat that person and treat yourself the same way. Another way is to build self-compassion through a daily loving-kindness meditation. One of my favorites can be found here. Finally, if you're interested in building an even deeper practice, I recommend Chris Germer's book The Mindful Path to Self Compassion.

So remember - allow yourself to prioritize and practice self-compassion. You can find your own goals and your own path. Maybe if we all do this, we can change the course of cultural expectations to build a healthier future.