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Are You an Overfunctioner?

Who or what are overfunctioners? The term overfunctioner refers to people who attempt to calm tension by taking on responsibilities beyond their capacity and managing others' schedules, behaviours and decision-making. The overfunctioner moves at a constant fast pace and takes over the function of others to the detriment of the other party's own needs.

Being helpful, caring and hardworking are good qualities and commendable. However, taking over many responsibilities and overplanning to reduce anxiety may eventually lead to burnout and fatigue, thus increasing the stress that you are trying to calm. Overfunctioning for others may seem an effective way to manage a relationship's tension. However, it can also increase anxiety and dependency as the other person feels overwhelmed by your over functioning or becomes too dependent on you. Overfunctioning hinders you and the other party from becoming capable of making decisions and assuming the appropriate amount responsibility.

Signs that you might be an overfunctioner include:

  • Feeling like you know what is best for others

  • Assuming someone else's responsibility beyond what you can manage

  • Worrying/fretting about others and their responsibilities

  • Talking and explaining on behalf of your friend, family or partner, without allowing the person to do so

  • Trying to do everything yourself instead of sharing the responsibility

  • Going out of your way to take care of others without them needing it

  • Doing things or making decisions for other people even though they are capable of doing so

  • Managing others' schedules and times and reminding them of appointments and routines

  • Talking more than listening to another person

  • People-pleasing

  • Difficulty setting boundaries or saying no

People may become overfunctioners because of the role of their family systems, such as being the eldest sibling, having absent parents or witnessing an adult engage in costly behaviours, all of which traumatised the family. People may also overfunction due to low self-esteem, poor boundaries and the fear of others leaving them if they say no. If you feel that you have been overfunctioning, here are some tips for your consideration:

  • Notice the triggers: Identifying them is a great way to help you manage anxiety.

  • Slow down and breathe: Practice breathing exercises to calm yourself as you think of a strategy to face stressful challenges.

  • Reflect on yourself and your expectations.

  • Find opportunities to be more comfortable in letting others be responsible for themselves.

  • Talk to someone: Talking to a supportive person, such as a friend, a family member, or a professional counsellor, is helpful to help you process and overcome the tendency to overfunction.

Restoring Peace Counselling and Consultancy provides counselling and psychotherapy services for individuals, couples and families. For more information, please visit or Whatsapp us at +65 8889 1848.

Keywords: Singapore, mental health, private clinic, psychotherapy services near me, therapy, counselling, therapist, overfunctioner, overfunctioning, responsibility, decision making, boundaries, anxiety, stress

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