Recovering from Over-Doing


In this week’s Dungeon Prompt, Sreejit asks us to fill in the blank in this sentence:  “I am a Recovering _________.” There was no doubt in my mind what the behavior would be for me. Using the Alcoholics Anonymous introduction, I will say: “Hi!  I am Karuna, and I am a recovering over-doer.”

As I thought about how I would present this topic, I decided to create a new disorder. My fictitious disorder is called “Being versus Doing Disorder.”

The Being vs Doing disorder is on a continuum where the center, a balance between being and doing, is the healthy portion of the continuum. The more someone moves to either end of the continuum, the more likely it is they will have dysfunction in their lives.

When I think of the over-being end of the continuum I think of non-productivity, passivity, and lack of motivation. I don’t know as much about that part of the spectrum since I have almost no personal experience there. I have seen it at work in clients and friends though.

Over-doing has many facets. It commonly begins in childhood when the only or main way to get positive attention from parents is to do impressive things. It also develops when parents criticize their children anytime they are relaxing or are doing things the parents consider nonproductive.

As a result, adults with an over-doing disorder may be seeking validation and praise for what they accomplish. An over-doer is also likely to be a rescuer. As such, they do things they aren’t asked to do and are likely to do things they don’t want to do. In addition, they do more than their share of the work that needs to be done and do things for other people that they could do for themselves. Those with this “disorder’ are likely to over-commit and seem incapable of being still.

Over-doing has been a major characteristic of my adult life. At one point, I was raising two children, working three jobs, doing my personal therapy and in school studying for a PhD.   During my therapy, I realized I didn’t want a PhD, I was just seeking attention from the father, who had disowned me.  I stopped my schooling but was still overdoing. Before long, I began to experience extreme exhaustion and was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

With CFS, I was in survival mode and it was impossible for me to do as much as I had been doing, although I still tried to.  When it began dissipating after five years, I went back to over doing. There is no doubt that a part of me believed it was only acceptable for me to stop if I was sick.  Eventually I developed high blood pressure and other physical problems.

I reached a point where I had to cut back on all of my commitments. Nowadays, I am putting my emphasis on doing the things I want to do, and am saying no to many requests.  I still have trouble with “simply being” but I no longer am into major over-doing.   I hope some day I will be much closer to the center of the being-doing continuum.

I have realized a behavior that really fueled my over-doing disorder was the desire to be “in the know.” That puts me in the place of being asked for information that I don’t want to share, which then creates stress, whether I share it or not. As I continue to slow down, I am finding myself holder of less information. I am loving responding to requests with “I’m not in that loop anymore. You will have to ask someone else.”

I learned many skills during my over-doing years.  Last week friends of mine were in a life and death crisis and I stepped in to help immediately.  There is a time and place for those skills, but it takes discrimination to use them correctly.  In that instance, I have no doubt that my choices were appropriate.

I am very committed to my recovery from over-doing. While I may find myself immersed in the old behaviors from time to time, I don’t think I will ever be drawn so deep into them again. I see what I am doing  much sooner and and change course when needed.

In evaluating myself on the scale found in Portia Nelson’s Autobiography in 5 Short Chapters, I find I am in generally in Chapter 4 or 5.

Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.


Every time I walk around an invitation to over-do or avoid putting myself in the situation where I know I am going to be tempted, I consider my choice worthy of celebration!  I am truly movig towards a life of balance.


Do you have a “Being vs Doing” disorder? Where do you fall on the continuum? How does it disrupt your life? Do you consider yourself in recovery?



24 thoughts on “Recovering from Over-Doing

  1. Well, this is a very indepth look. I like it. I might be leaning more on the over being side. Is that the side for dreamers? humm, I’ll have to think about that a bit.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, dreamers could belong there, but of course you need to take into consideration that every day of yours is filled with doing, isn’t it? Or at least it is when Amma is around!


  2. Oh my that is so interesting! I was “over doing” in the early 90`s and got ill…I think you are my soul sister from a past life (smiles) Reading your deep and transparent post makes me realize I vascilate from staying neutral, dreaming, inaction for long periods and then action but overdoing I learned my lesson, I think:) I like that you are able to let go of being in the know and it reminds me of when I used to always be the “go to person”, now I refer to others who can inform just as well. You see how your post is making me reflect!! Darn!! and I wanted to just vege tonight:)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Well, good grief… I think I suffer from both! Can there be a being-doing schizophrenia or MPD? EVERYBODY says I’m an over-doer, rescuer, fixer, bite off more than humanly possible to chew, etc. I have an extremely hard time saying “no” to helping others, as well as delegating (mainly because I feel someone else will mess up what I am responsible for, so I might as well just do it myself… ALL of it). I know much of this is rooted in growing up trying to make everybody else proud of me (in a four-way broken home), but being a single “do it all yourself” mom has certainly added to the predicament of my disposition. On the flip side, after spiritual leaders have repeatedly given me the green-light to just say no (without an immense guilt-trip)… when I walk that road, I tend to fall off completely. “So sorry – not this time” feels more like, “NO, stop asking me, don’t bother me, can’t you see I’m on timeout, GEEZ!!!” Lol… that sounds really bad, I know. I think the root problem is I’m an “all or nothing” type of person, so I’m either killing myself trying to do-do-do everything (until my body and mind ultimately quit on me) or I’m just plain ol’ good for nothing lazy. Though, even at my laziest… if I came across that hole in the sidewalk, I can pretty much guarantee you – I will find a way to fix it before nightfall! (which chapter is that?) 🙂 Alright, I’m going to stop my babbling… I’ve been particularly engaged with my WordPress family today, and should be expending all this mental energy on work projects (ah, a prime example of my being-doing MPD… I am a procrastinating perfectionist! I guess I dream a lot about perfection, then I scramble like the dickens to achieve it.) Of course, this only applies to things I really don’t feel like doing. I’m quite obsessed with the things I enjoy. And there I go babbling again… sorry, Karuna! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I also feel sad that children are often so tightly scheduled with doing activities that there is no time left for daydreaming or other being activities.


  4. I liked your point about balance between being and doing, very good. I find my happiness is clearly most when in that balance, and less if I’m off in one direction.

    Ramana Maharshi said that the sage looks like he is not doing, but actually there is enormous dynamism there, like the top spinning at high speed that appears to be standing still. What a beautiful image.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you for this reminder for balance and self awareness, to come back to presence and check in to feel where i am on the spectrum of ‘doing and being’. One thing that has helped me a lot is increasing my ability, stretching my comfort zone, about saying ‘no’ to requests. An understanding that i am usually saying ‘yes’ to self care and accepting where i am at and what i have the capacity to do. And along with this being able to hear the other person’s response to my ‘no’.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A wonderfully wrought and insightful article Karuna, for which many thanks. I had never thought about the continuum to which you refer, though it of course exists in a sense. Being boredom-proof, I tend to be perhaps like Sreejit and lean more towards the ‘being’ end of the spectrum. This seems okay to me, as I am aware of my responsibilities and meet them fully. I like to think also that I remain considerate of others, and would never indulge my own inclinations if I thought I could help or be a comfort to another. I suppose we each of us pass through different phases in life wherein each places differing levels of demands or constraints upon us. Perhaps it is only when we are released from such external pressures that we may discover where we truly are on the spectrum?

    Liked by 2 people

I would love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s