Quit Trying So Hard to Become Someone You’re Not (Guest Post)

Jan 6, 2017Find joy today

I’m grateful to have my friend Cheri Gregory here today. Together with Kathi Lipp, she wrote the book Overwhelmed. Can you relate to the title? And isn’t the cover pretty?


Scroll down below for a chance to win this book (just by sharing and commenting!). And now onto Cheri.

“You seem especially high maintenance,” a woman at my table says, sprinkling salt on her potato.

As the speaker for the weekend retreat we’re at, I fight to keep this one critical comment from completely overwhelming me.

“Especially high maintenance”?

What does this mean? Each woman here probably has her act together. Nobody here needs to hear what I came to say.

I should just go home.

But I’ll just overwhelm Daniel with all my “especially high maintenance” needs. 

I don’t know what I should…

Fortunately, my spiraling thoughts bump into my funny bone, and I laugh.

“Yes, I’m sure I do seem especially high maintenance.”

And you have no clue how overwhelming or how exhausting it is to be “especially high maintenance.”

All. The. Time.

Stuck in the Same Old Story

Growing up, I was an easily-overwhelmed, highly-reactive child. I heard the same words, over and over:

  • “You are such an attention-seeker!”
  • “Why do you take everything so personally?”
  • “You are just too sensitive.”

I took these messages to heart, believing I was defective.

As an adult, determined to find and fix my defects, I bought and devoured the self-help shelves of Barnes & Noble. Attended church and Bible study religiously. Sat in the front row, taking copious notes, at workshops and seminars.

But no matter how hard I tried, I remained as easily-overwhelmed and highly-reactive as ever.

Ephesians 4:14 aptly describes the first four decades of my life: I felt “tossed back and forth by the waves, blown here and there by every wind,” desperately seeking self-improvement.

The Missing Piece to My Story

In my mid-40s—when I’d pretty much given up on being anything other than an epic failure at life and an utter disappointment to God—I discovered a life-changing truth:

I’m an HSP: a Highly Sensitive Person.

I wept through the self-assessment, as with every question I answered came memories of trying to hide, defend, or alter one of my many “quirks.”

It turns out that becoming easily over-stimulated, processing life deeply, and being especially emotionally responsive are all 100% normal for an HSP like me.

As I pray-cess what it means to be an HSP, God speaks comfort to my heart.

You’re not defective.

I created you this way.

You can quit trying so hard to become someone you’re not.

I’m learning to truly hear and follow the Holy Spirit’s voice, now so much clearer with far less shame clogging my sensitive soul.

Living a Brand New Story

Do you love someone who is “especially high maintenance” or suspect that the person you see in the mirror might be an HSP?
Here are two healing ah-ha’s I’ve had as God’s been restorying me thru the truth about who He made me to be:

1)      God does not demand that you spend your life “tossed back and forth by the waves,” frantically pursuing self-improvement.

2)      As you learn the truth about who God created you to be, you will find self-acceptance.

And it will be “firmly and securely anchored in hope” (Hebrews 6:19).

Instead of making New Year’s resolutions (that will only last for a week), how about creating a Personal manifesto that will carry you through the rest of your life? Sign up for great ideas and resources about how to get out from Overwhelmed and you will receive “How to Write Your Personal Manifesto” as our gift to you. Get off the overwhelming cycle of making and breaking resolutions and create a gentle plan for lasting life change.


Kathi and Cheri would like to send a copy of Overwhelmed: Quiet the Chaos & Restore Your Sanity to one of our readers!

To qualify for the drawing, you need to do TWO things:

#1. LEAVE A COMMENT below.

#2. SHARE THIS POST on social media.

That’s it! Once you do both, your name will be entered into the random drawing. Be sure to tell your friends so they can sign up too. The drawing will take place on January 11th, so don’t delay! {Contest is limited to US & Canadian readers only.}

About Overwhelmed

Feeling overwhelmed? Wondering if it’s possible to move from “out of my mind” to “in control” when you’ve got too many projects on your plate and too much mess in your relationships?

Kathi and Cheri want to show you five surprising reasons why you become stressed, why social media solutions don’t often work, and how you can finally create a plan that works for you. As you identify your underlying hurts, uncover hope, and embrace practical healing, you’ll understand how to…

  • trade the to-do list that controls you for a calendar that allows space in your life
  • decide whose feedback to forget and whose input to invite
  • replace fear of the future with peace in the present

You can simplify and savor your life—guilt free! Clutter, tasks, and relationships may overwhelm you now, but God can help you overcome with grace

About Cheri and Kathi


Cheri Gregory spends her weekdays teaching teens and weekends speaking at women’s retreats. She’s been married to her college sweetheart, Daniel, for more than 28 years. The Gregorys and their young adult kids, Annemarie and Jonathon, live in California.

Kathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker and the bestselling author of several books, including Clutter Free, The Husband Project, and The Get Yourself Organized Project. She and her husband, Roger, live in California and are the parents of four young adults.


  1. Colleen Leslie Richardson

    Wow. This is awesome. So me. I’ve struggle my whole life with thinking that I’m broken because things overwhelm me easily. I have to get this book!

    • Mary DeMuth

      So glad it was helpful!

  2. KFDP

    My test link hasn’t come yet, but I’m pretty sure I am, in most ways, on the opposite spectrum of HSP. I do get overwhelmed, but any drama comes at the very end, usually when it’s too late for help/assistance. I cry at the wrong times, not over cry at the right times. And I try to avoid drama, but often get caught up in other people’s drama (as I try to ‘help’ someone). Arrrgh. So the same feelings of inadequacy, just on the other side of the spectrum. Oh, my test link arrived. We’ll see if I’m right this time. My WORST thing is not knowing how to ask for help or assistance. Thus creating the uneccessary stress/drama/etc.

    • KFDP

      And I just took the test and got 55%. The horror movie question and the scents (I’m allergic to colognes, sprays, detergents with heavy scents) pushed me over the 50%.

      • Mary DeMuth

        Very interesting!

    • Jenn, Kathi's & Cheri's Team

      Can I offer some advice a friend once gave me? “Don’t be stressed. You’re not broken.” She meant that I wasn’t defective and neither are you, KFDP. God made you unique and having some HSP tendencies doesn’t make you less-than someone with all or none.

  3. Deanna Wiseburn

    Getting ready to take the quiz now. It certainly sounds like some of the things I have been through.

    • Mary DeMuth

      I hope it was helpful!

  4. Christine L'Heureux

    I got 88 on the quiz. I read the book on HSP years ago and knew that I was an HSP. Somehow I forgot about it. Thank you, Mary, for bringing Cheri for a guest post.

    The last few years I have struggled so much with noise at work and at home. This explains it! I am single and rent rooms in others’ homes. The noise just about drove me crazy! Even asking for quiet after 10 pm didn’t work. Now I rent a room that has a private entrance and space for myself and they are reasonably quiet. What a difference that makes!

    Just yesterday at work, I stayed later after my coworkers had left. I got so much more work done.

    Being able to empathize with others is a great part of being HSP. But not regularly listening to the news is helpful. I feel the tragedies in the world.

    Thank you, Mary and Cheri. Blessings on your ministries!

    • Mary DeMuth

      It’s so good to know thyself! 🙂

    • Jenn, Kathi's & Cheri's Team

      How awesome that you figured out some ways to work WITH how you are wired.

  5. Shawna Lee

    I am not 100% HSP but as I get older I am caring more.about what others think and how to appear perfect which is overwhelming!

    • Mary DeMuth

      That can be overwhelming!

    • Mary DeMuth

      Shawna, your name was drawn as the winner! Congratulations! Please email me at mary @ marydemuth.com and I’ll connect you with Cheri.

  6. Chautona Havig

    I don’t fit in the HSP at all–quite the opposite. And I remember spending a few months with the idea that maybe there was something wrong with that. I should learn to feel things deeper–to EMOTE. And that funny bone thing? I had that moment. I was sitting there, feeling like I should be crying about something, and that scene from “The Holiday” where Cameron Diaz is trying to make tears happen and they don’t? Yeah. That moment. I cracked up. And that’s when I realized, “God doesn’t make junk. He made me this way. And that’s just fine with Him, so it’s just fine with me.”

    People like me get it–even though we’re opposites, we get it. Thank you for encouraging the sensitive ones out there. The “heartless” (my joking, teasing, poking fun at myself word) ones like me try, but we really fail. 🙂

    • Mary DeMuth

      I love how the body of Christ is so diverse. We need all types of folks!

    • Jenn, Kathi's & Cheri's Team

      You “heartless” ones are the ones who can hand us HSP’s the tissues or help us stay calm. Yay for poking fun and celebrating how you are unique!

  7. Shannon Waterman

    My goodness. This is me. I’m exhausted and overwhelmed by trying to do it all for everyone else. I worry about the future so much I forget to enjoy the “now”. My to-do list is way more than my ability or energy and I always put taking care of myself on the back burner. Would love to read this book!

    • Mary DeMuth

      I’m beginning to see that self care is very important.

    • Jenn, Kathi's & Cheri's Team

      Shannon, it is such a helpful book. Kathi & Cheri are so honest and down-to-earth. It could really help you make a to-do list that works for your calendar and not against you.

  8. Jeanette Hanscome

    I only recently stopped seeing my sensitivity as a character flaw. I tried so hard to toughen up, but I couldn’t seem to do it. God finally helped me recognize that my sensitivity was what equipped me to be considerate and compassionate toward others. If I didn’t feel so deeply, perhaps I wouldn’t be as kind. Perhaps I would hurt my friends in the same ways that I’d been hurt and not give it a second thought. So I now thank God for making me a sensitive person. I look forward to reading this book, Kathi and Cheri!

    • Mary DeMuth

      I’m glad you’re my friend, Jeanette!

  9. Lori Young Emery

    “Frantically pursuing self improvement.” That’s me, in a nutshell. Since when did I decide that who I am isn’t enough? Every day I’m caught in a tug of war with allowing God to prune and allowing my heart to just be me.
    Thank you for this beautiful insight Mary!

    • Mary DeMuth

      Good words, and good point, Lori.

    • Jenn, Kathi's & Cheri's Team

      Lori, I get that. There’s a balance between personal growth and hating the essence of who you are! What a delightful way of putting it–“allowing God to prune.”

  10. Julie Sunne

    Insightful and potentially quite freeing! Thank you for sharing.

    • Mary DeMuth

      I agree. I actually hadn’t thought about HSP before.

  11. Kristina Lonardo

    Absolutely hsp. ..and recently learned that it is a gift from God. ..thank you for posting.

    • Mary DeMuth

      How good to know you’re not alone, and that you’re normal 🙂