SASS: Straight-A Student Syndrome

I have a syndrome. Maybe you have heard of it or have it, too. I call it Straight A Student Syndrome (SASS).

I first showed signs when I was in school. The tasks they asked for came easy to me, so I didn't often struggle with homework or testing. I didn't have to work hard, so I learned to work A LOT, typically in the form of extra credit. And there's a difference between hard and a lot, isn't there?

Other people in school are smart in ways that don't fit the mold, so they might learn they always have to work hard, or even believe they aren't smart at all. None of these messages, that everything is easy, that everything is hard, or that any of us aren't smart, are true. So we develop these syndromes.

My SASS showed up this morning when I chose to sleep in after having body pain yesterday. I judged myself for sleeping in, while I knew it was caring for myself to feel better. After all, I have A LOT of work to do! Mostly I want to reach 100 kickboxing classes before my birthday in a couple weeks.

Who am I kidding?!!

This month alone, I have nearly published a book, planned a trip to Alaska to teach MHFA, partnered with a non-profit in Denver to teach more MHFA, developed and will release a BRAND NEW + IN DEPTH online Recovery Program unlike anything else, was asked to speak at a university, am about to partner with a new corporate client, and found out I have a pretty intense medical condition.

Now I am concerned I won't reach 100 kickboxing classes before my birthday?!

This is a typical story from someone who is a SASShole; I need to reach this other accomplishment, even though I have already accomplished these other 500 tasks, so clearly could not sleep in past 5am one day this week without guilt because my body asked for rest.

Here are some other signs and symptoms you may recognize:

  • they run marathons only to decide it isn't enough and start working out twice a day

  • when the personal trainer tells them to slow down, they run 30 miles for fun on Saturday to spite him

  • they check there schedule to see it is full, then schedule another thing (or 6 more things)

  • they refuse to eat ice cream when they want it because one serving alone will cause them to gain exactly 43.9 pounds

  • they can not go camping because then they could not send the email to their list about their new program coming out

  • they don't rest until they are severely sick because that's the only time they have a “reason”

  • they don't listen well because they could always fake the test without reading the book, so they don't have a need to pay attention

  • they try something new and are not the best at it, so they sit there in silent shock as if this is something they have never experienced before

Do you know a SASShole in your life? Are you one yourself?

They often use sarcasm or humor to deflect being called out on their busy-ness.

There is no pill to combat SASS, but here are a couple activities you can practice to reduce your symptoms:

  1. Make a list of qualities you are simply by being yourself (no accomplishments related).

Read it and tell your brain it's true regularly. Or write a couple on your mirror or car steering wheel to see everyday.

*Optional Part II: Imagine someone else who is these qualities. Notice how valuable you experience that person to be, simply because they are themselves. Take that lens and see yourself through it. Reach out your hands, pick up that love and confidence, place it somewhere in your body by touching the area. I'm serious, do that.

  1. Schedule rest time.

Take your calendar out right now and block off some time. If this is hard, invite someone to do it with you so you have accountability. This may look like watching a movie, visiting nature, taking a bath, getting a massage, playing music, or reading a book (a fun book that is for pleasure!).

  1. Think of your favorite love song lately, turn it on, sing it loudly to yourself.

Every time visions of Jason Momoa or Miranda Kerr pop into your head, bring it back to you.

  1. Imagine you are a small child again. You know, the person who didn't stop digging in mud puddles or climbing trees because there were more responsible choices to make? What would that child do right now? How can you have the most fun possible?

  2. Stop. Be still. Take 5 deep breaths. When you start thinking, come back to your breath. Feel that? Welcome home. That's you. It's the only thing that matters. Keep connecting to yourself this way.

I'm here with you, experiencing SASS, practicing all the time.

I'm still going to publish my book, release this program, and sign this corporate client.

I am NOT going to hit 100 kickboxing classes until after my birthday.

I promise. No extra credit for this SASShole. I don't need it.

With all the value in the breath,


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