Overfunctioning and Realigning Yourself

Overfunctioning is a term that relates to the intensity and energy that we put into aspects of our lives, including work, our homes, relationships, and friendships. Many of us are wired to either over or underfunction in times of stress, crisis, and change. The wiring itself isn’t likely to change. Sometimes overfunctioning has its place in that it can help you deal with momentary situations. 

However, there are times when the intensity and the amount of time you spend over functioning can lead to more serious problems. If it goes unchecked, it can stress our relationships, lead to personal burnout, and prevent you from experiencing deeper connections. Overfunctioning can be linked to codependency, addictions, and relationships problems. 

What does over functioning look like?

It can be a wide range of things, but it’s often task related. This can mean it can lead to some workaholism tendencies. In crises you might take charge. But overall, over functioning keeps you out of uncomfortable feelings. Feelings of being hurt or seeing others hurting or other feelings such as fear and vulnerability are often avoided when you dive head first into tasks. 

Signs of overfunctioning:

  • Chronic busyness
  • Workaholism
  • Solving others’ problems for them
  • Avoiding rest, relaxation, and fun
  • Not leaning on others for support
  • Keeps you from learning about yourself

Everyone has potential to function in this way. 

It’s human to look for ways to cope with vulnerability and difficult feelings. We all learn how to manage and cope with uncertainty, anxiety, fear, etc.

Overfunctioning is an understandable defense mechanism. It can distract you and keep you feeling more in control. However, it can also block connection.
This style of coping may have its place at times. The problems come when this coping mechanism is over utilized. 

Problems from over functioning.

On the surface, it doesn’t look half bad to complete tasks. I mean you can get a lot done right? Well, the picture is more complicated. Many people will sacrifice their own quality of life to avoid discomfort. Fun gets forgotten. Connection with others comes second to completing tasks. 

This can even get more problematic as it can detach people from themselves. Over times, people can become overly reliant on just completing tasks and lose touch of what is important and valuable to themselves. This can lead to resentments and complete burnout. 

Changing overarching patterns.

Overfunctioning can become some prevalent that it can be a part of every aspect of your life. 

  1. Have some fun, even when fun feels uncomfortable. You might feel uneasy doing some stuff just for yourself and just for fun. The best advice is to allow the unease to be there and do the fun stuff anyway. You’re likely going to settle into the social activities after you start engaging in it. Getting started is often the hardest part. 
  2. Revisit old enjoyable activities. Sometimes the best thing we can do is get involved with activities that were enjoyable in the past. Obviously I’m speaking of healthy, safe activities. But it’s shocking how so many of us stop doing things that we used to really enjoy and foster when we were younger. For example, you can embrace your creative side, your athletic side, your curiosity side, etc. 
  3. Identify things to change in your life. Overfunctioning can be a sign that you’re avoiding something or feeling really vulnerable or disconnected. Look at your life and identify what could be missing. Is there something that you need to address that you just haven’t? Is there something that you’re avoiding? 
  4. Identify when you’re in an overfunctioning state. Use mindfulness to identify the intent behind your behaviors and whether or not your behaviors are coming from anxiety or vulnerability. 
  5. Sometimes you may need to go even deeper. Sometimes there is a deeper rooted reason that you’re over functioning. This can be based in lessons you learned as a child. Your culture can impact how you sit with your feelings. In situations where over functioning tendencies remain and you can’t quite seem to get a handle on how to change these patterns, it’s a good idea to talk with a professional such as a therapist. 


To work on any behavior, you have to be able to identify it. Overfunctioning can be very difficult to identify. It disconnects or distracts you from many of the uncomfortable feelings in your life. But it also prevents connection and even authenticity. It’s also often based in good intentions. Therefore, it can be difficult to see it in the moment as something that should change. 

The main practice is learning more about how you feel when you’re overfunctioning. Sometimes, you’ll have to work backwards to identify it. You’ll first notice that your behaviors and energy are focused on constant working and focused on other people. These patterns of behavior can be your signs to ask yourself if you’re in a state of over functioning. You can then utilize grounding techniques to bring yourself into the present and settle into uncomfortable feelings. 

Practice leaning on others. There are people out there who want to support you. You just have to be willing to utilize their support. Practice identifying these people and utilizing the support that they’re willing to give. Share how you feel and what you’re experiencing. 

If you’re in Texas and looking for a therapist who can help you rediscover balance in your relationships and life. Please feel free to contact us.