Harmful overload of responsibilities ‘new normal’ in today’s world: Experts
With unrealistic expectations of modern life, idea of responsibility and productivity needs to be reassessed, say psychologists
By Merve Berker
ANKARA (AA) – Perfectionism, multitasking and an overload of responsibilities have become the “new normal” for humans trying to keep step with the rapid pace of modern life, and it entails many dangers for their well-being, according to psychologists.
People have a range of roles to fulfill, from families to work and social life, all of which can “sometimes leave no space for them to breathe,” said Ayse Gizem Nazlioglu, a psychologist in the Turkish capital Ankara.
This brings more and more responsibilities, which has made overburdening the new normal in the world today, she added.
Her advice is to keep an open mind about when these responsibilities go beyond the possible in terms of time, energy and skills.
When that happens, we should share the burden with those around us, she said.
“We have to focus on ourselves,” Nazlioglu told Anadolu ahead of the National Relaxation Day, celebrated annually on Aug. 15 in the US to underline the importance of mental self-care.
“Being able to see the aspect of us that feeds this system, asking ourselves the question of why I’m having trouble getting or asking for support, can be considered the first stage of untangling the knot.”
In Nazlioglu’s assessment, the quest for perfectionism lies at the core of the entire issue.
There is this idea in today’s world “that stopping is considered a deficiency and that it is necessary to be in a constant state of production,” she explained.
“However, all studies prove that staying in the moment, turning the focus to our time, and spending quality time with ourselves reduces anxiety and positively impacts psychological well-being,” she said.
Stopping and taking a step back helps us see “what we are missing while running,” she added.
“For this reason … perhaps we should remind ourselves that we don’t need to learn to be the best, but to chase what is best for us,” she emphasized.
- ‘A person does not have the potential to do everything’
Nurefsan Yilmaz, another psychologist, warned of the negative effects of overburdened lives, stressing the need to differentiate between what our inner voice tells us to do and what is achievable.
The flood of responsibilities can lead to “negative psychological symptoms such as physical and mental fatigue, burnout, and decreased tolerance,” she said.
“The common denominator of obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorders is a sense of responsibility,” she added.
Yilmaz stressed the need to weed out “thoughts that make a person feel responsible at a level that will make them tired.”
These should be “replaced with healthy thinking structures and functional responsibility,” she suggested.
Most often, the feeling of guilt is there because people believe they are responsible for everything themselves, she said.
“According to our factory default settings, a person does not have the potential to do everything,” she emphasized.
- Realistic boundaries
Delving into the issue from a more technical perspective, psychologist Gonca Barut said the concept of responsibility is intrinsically tied in with the family structure.
If a child has not learned how to draw realistic boundaries, if they grow up in an overly perfectionist family with excessive expectations, then as an adult, they will have a tendency to self-sacrifice for others or have standards that are way too high, she explained.
This could negatively affect their perception of responsibility, meaning that person could reject any responsibility because they view it as something that curbs their freedom in life, she added.
About the sense of guilt that people could feel for taking a break or not doing something for a while, Barut said: “Whatever activity we are doing, we should try to enjoy it to the fullest, try not to blame ourselves, and leave ourselves to the moment.”
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