“We all pay an Overwhelmed tax,” Kathi tells me.

To myself, I think: Well, maybe you do, but I’m sure I don’t.

Aloud, I say: “How interesting!”

Kathi gives an illustration of adding a service to her cell phone during a trip and then forgetting to cancel it. This resulted in paying months of unnecessary extra charges.

Again, I think to myself: Well, maybe you do that kind of thing, but I’m sure I don’t.

Overwhelmed Tax: The Dental Work Payment

Later in the week, I visit my dentist who kindly but honestly informs me since I’ve waited so long to see him, what could have been a filling now needs to be a crown … possibly a root canal.

I start to throw myself a pity party.

This is so unfair. I work so hard. I’m so busy. I don’t have time to …

Kathi’s words interrupt my thoughts: “We all pay an Overwhelmed Tax.”

And I wonder: Do I pay an Overwhelmed Tax, after all?

Overwhelmed Tax: The Plane Ticket Fee

A few weeks later, I add an item to my to-do list:

“Book a return flight for Annemarie.”

I check the price online: thanks to a special deal, it’s under $100.


Days pass.

“Book a return flight for Annemarie” stays on my to-do list.

Weeks pass.

Finally, I put, “Book a return flight for Annemarie” on my calendar.

When I go online, I find that the ticket price has doubled.

I start to kick myself for being so …

… so what? Lazy? Hardly. I’ve been busy. And sick.

Kathi’s words return: “We all pay an Overwhelmed Tax.”

And instead of wallowing in denial, persecution, or punishment, I accept the truth:

Today, I’m paying a hefty Overwhelmed Tax to Southwest Airlines.

Overwhelmed Tax: The Acute Pneumonia Fallout

It’s one week before Christmas, and I’ve been sick for nine weeks straight.

Two months ago, I determined to soldier through my many commitments. But the worse my cough became, the more I had to cancel.

I finally do what I should have done long ago: take myself to Urgent Care. I emerge with a diagnosis of pneumonia, a prescription for antibiotics, and doctor’s orders to rest.

By Christmas Eve, my symptoms are almost gone, and my strength is returning.

On the way home, I begin to tally up the Overwhelmed Tax I’m paying because I failed to seek medical care early on.

• A bunch of time-sensitive projects are way behind schedule.
• My family has had a grouchy, lethargic wife and mom for way too long.
• I have neither rested well or worked well nor played well for two long months.

All because I was too overwhelmed—by busyness, by annoyance, and even by pride—to make the choice to see a doctor sooner.

Minimizing the Overwhelmed Tax Damage

I now agree with Kathi: We all pay an Overwhelmed Tax.

(And if you’re tempted to tell yourself, “Well, maybe you do, but I’m sure I don’t,” think again!)

One Small Win: Here are three effective ways we can minimize the Overwhelmed Taxes we pay:

1. Audit the Overwhelmed Tax you pay. Start keeping track of the various ways you pay Overwhelmed Tax. Money isn’t the only kind of cost—often, it’s the least of our expenses! An Overwhelmed Tax can be exacted on your time, your energy, your space, your relationships, and your integrity.

2. Avoid paying Overwhelmed Tax when possible. Take the ten minutes to book the plane ticket while the price is low. Hire help: it feels so much more satisfying to pay others for their skills than to pay an Overwhelmed Tax (which feels like failure.)

3. Accept that we all pay an Overwhelmed Tax. When you can’t avoid an Overwhelmed Tax, give yourself grace. Learn what you can move on. The steepest Overwhelmed Tax on earth is failure to forgive—it’s far too high a price to pay for anything.

Which one simple step will you take today?

overwhelmed taxCheri Gregory is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. Her passion is helping women break free from destructive expectations. She writes and speaks from the conviction that “how to” works best in partnership with “heart, too.” Cheri is the co-author, with Kathi Lipp, of The Cure for the “Perfect” Life and the upcoming Overwhelmed. Cheri has been “wife of my youth” to Daniel, her opposite personality, for twenty-eight years and is “Mom” to Annemarie (25) and Jonathon (23), also opposite personalities. Cheri blogs about perfectionism, people-pleasing, highly sensitive people, and hope at www.cherigregory.com.

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