''I've got a lot on my plate.'' I cringe each time I hear someone exclaim that overused cliche. What exactly does it mean for those who experience anxiety on a variation of an old theme? ''I've got a lot going on statement often follows as an accompaniment to the aforementioned sentiment. Let's do the math here. First, I imagine on a literal plane a plate filled with a large assortment of foodstuff from a buffet. For those who've indulged, well, you get the picture. It looks scrumptious and until you consume the contents, you can't imagine any additional delights. You carefully balance the plate hoping nothing will fall before you charge with the gastronomical experience. Back to the math. How many items literally are are your proverbial plate? Have some been there just recently? Have any been hanging out too long? Here's a shocker for you ... do you even know what exactly what you're referring to ''on your plate?'' Add all the items on ''your plate'' times all the folks sharing that sentiment, you've got a mountain of anxieties bulging like a too full belly at a buffet. ''Those other items are appealing, however, I can't take on any more.''
Now, in the spirit of no absolutes, I appreciate that some folks are proficient at balancing ''a full plate.'' Sometimes, those folks (don't hide, you know who you are!) take on more as if to tip the balance. Yet, they are equal to the tasks of taking on more. Now, I'm not speculating that these same folks will overindulge at the buffet table. Perhaps they've learned how to strike a healthy balance. My first inclination is to pre-suppose who those quaint humble folks are. I'd be irresponsible if I didn't at all suggest that m others fit the description. OK dads, don't jump up and revolt. You know who you are and if you, too, fit the bill.
Back to the ranch. Those who are indeed overwhelmed by the proverbial full plate struggle to meet the challenges. When those identified items on your plate remain unsolved and cause too much pressure, anxiety frequently integrates your psyche. Sometimes folks report feeling somewhat paralyzed or at the very least, stuck. There are no real hidden secrets to facing the challenge. Step one: admit to yourself that a problem exists. Next, seek a trusted soul who will listen intently and compassionately. See wisdom from the aforementioned folks who you believe miraculously have their act together. Better stated, see wisdom from those who effectively manage their lives with rare occurrences of uncontrolled anxiety. It's one thing to fill your proverbial plate, it's another to, liken to a buffet, sit and not enjoy the experience. ''O my God, I filled my plate with so much food: I can't even bear to eat.''
In addition to the wisdom you seek, consider supplementing your resource with the help of a mental health professional. That person can help you sort out the struggles you identify and to reduce your anxiety. Maybe you'll get unstuck, resolve some of those longstanding problems and learn to have more control over your life. Life is good despite the many challenges we face. You deserve to enjoy your life. One small helpful hint, by the way. Trust yourself to ask others to help; especially the moms out there. Be well. Best of health.
Marshall Greenstein holds a master's degree in marriage and family counseling and is a licensed marriage and family counselor and a licensed mental health counselor in New York state. He has regular office hours at Hutton and Greenstein Counseling Services, 501 E. Third St., Suite 2B, Jamestown, 484-7756. For more information or to suggest topics, email email@example.com.