Dialectical Behavioral Therapy/Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills/Balancing Priorities vs. Demands in Life and Relationships

Priorities are those things important to you; things that you want to do.

Demands are those things other people want you to do.

Most troubles with priorities and demands are due to your priorities competing with other’s demands. Thus, you feel conflicted.

You need effective interpersonal skills to maintain your own priorities and/or negotiate compromises.

Balancing priorities and demands is a necessary task for structuring one’s life so that you fulfill your goals but still have some time to help others. This is difficult for everyone.

If you feel overwhelmed & over-committed then you must focus on what is important. If overwhelmed, concentrate on what is important and put off low-priority demands. And ask others for help.

Learn how to say “no” when appropriate. Decline some of the less important demands and priorities.

Importance is relative. If you over-commit yourself in order to maintain approval from another person the relationship itself will be unfulfilling.

Feeling overwhelmed leads to blow-ups. Blow-ups result from priorities and demands not getting the attention that was expected. Just as a relationship may blow up if neglected, an individual may blow up if priorities and demands in life are not addressed.

Some people have the opposite problem of having too few demands and priorities. This is especially true for those who are single, living alone, or not working. In these cases, the task is to create structure and increase demands, e.g. helping others, rather than to decrease them. Interpersonal skills are likely to be needed here also.

What can you tolerate before you feel overwhelmed? This depends on many factors including energy level, amount of help & support, available time, how you feel, and attitude toward the task. People are different in how much they can tolerate.