When Life Becomes Too Overwhelming, You Can Learn To Disengage Lovingly

Love is an active verb, and love is a passive verb. Sometimes love means disengaging. This can be from a conversation, a relationship, a community, a practice. If you spend your time and capacity overengaged, you are doing a disservice to yourself and those you are in service of. You can disengage with love, and often, disengaging is an act of love. 

If you take up every cause you won’t be effective in any cause

You can’t do it all. As incredible and impactful as you are, there are only so many tasks and causes that you can meaningfully engage with. This can be a challenging balancing act. In the world we live in, it is nearly impossible to feel like you are doing enough. There is always a new fire to put out. Alas, the fires will keep burning if you try to put them all out at once. This is why we have to work in community and be honest with ourselves and our communities when we can’t be of service. You aren’t responsible for everyone’s wellbeing. You are responsible to take enough care of yourself to be effective in the things that mean the most to you. 

Recognize that your time and capacity are finite resources

One of the best things about you is that you are a finite resource. It makes your time and skills even more important. Trying to learn the cello, cook a new recipe, design a new logo for your side hustle, write a petition for a meaningful cause, and understand the geopolitical landscape in a few hours will likely lead you to doing many things poorly and partially. Recognizing that you have a limited capacity allows you to prioritize what matters the most to you. Rather than detracting, lovingly disengaging adds to your quality of life and your impact. Everyone benefits when you are explicit about what you can and cannot do with your time. 

You can’t know everything

It can be challenging to disengage from all of the information available to us. You could always be reading, knowing more, and finding a new angle on an issue that is important to you. In order to survive the daily tidal wave of information, you have to recognize that you cannot know everything. Knowing more about something won’t make it go away. So, decide what level of informed you need to be in order to feel settled, and then free up some of your brain for your other duties. Find systems that work for you. Subscribe to newsletters with news synopses. Unsubscribe from email listservs that you never read or that make you feel behind in your knowledge. Be honest about what you can do, and then lovingly disengage from the quest to know everything. 

Assess why you want to do it all

You have to assess why you want to do it all. Learn to trust the communities doing the work. Your input isn’t always needed. Your choice to disengage won’t be the reason that the apocalypse happens. If you are going to be effective in anything you have to learn to trust others to take up the cause alongside you. Be honest about why you think you are always the person for the job. Lovingly disengage from your impulse to control outcomes by always being at the forefront. By all means, contribute to what is meaningful to you. Just make sure you are doing it sustainably and in a way that doesn’t leave it all to you.