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Background people and the thrill of overfunctioning

So, I am reading this life-changing book.

No, it’s not from the Outlander series… not this time, anyway.

It’s called, The Emotionally Healthy Woman, by Geri Scazzero. Its initial title, in my opinion, was much better:


We often equate quitting with failure and disappointment, so much so that we hold on to things long past their use, their fruitfulness, or their healthy place in our lives. 

I’ve been going through this book in fits and starts for the last few weeks. There are 8 items that Scazzero suggests we quit in order to attain emotional wellness. Each of them have spoken to me, but the sixth one,


really, really, really hit home.

Let me give you a bit of background. Pun intended, I am a background player. It took me years to discover and accept that this is my primary role and strength. I make a great assistant, project manager, organizer, coach, editor, encourager, roadie, and partner. I am not so much at my best when I am in the spotlight or the lead. I tend to freeze up, overcompensate, and not be my authentic self.

But being in the background or on the sidelines used to, in and of itself, be a disappointment to me. I thought I wanted to be the one performing, the center of attention. Turns out, I am much happier in the mix – or occasionally, running things from behind the scenes.

“Owning” this part of myself has come with a host of new lessons. The biggest of those lessons is that just because I can, doesn’t mean I should. 

You see, the people in the background are working, working, working, just like the people in the spotlight. The kids who are excelling at dance and karate and reading have parents who are driving them around, keeping their uniforms clean, and making sure they do their homework. The spouse who is traveling to exciting places and bringing in the big money has someone holding down the fort at home, so he or she can succeed without worrying their family operations will fall apart. The boss who is leading a company by being a charismatic visionary is often buoyed by a person or a team who is performing all the maintenance on whatever vehicle he drives.

The people in the background often do not call attention to what they do, which can make it look easy, which means others might ask them to do more.

And because the people in the background might be a little hungry for attention, approval, and applause, they will likely say yes, even to their own detriment, because helping others, because making things happen, because having the power to make something shiny success or fail, is a high.

And it’s time for people in the background to acknowledge this form of ego-feeding and start saying no.

Coming next:
Background people and the freedom of quitting AND a chance to win a copy of the book, The Emotionally Healthy Woman.

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