Thank you for all the wonderful emails and comments in response to last week’s ezine, where we started the conversation about transforming your relationship with overwhelm.If you missed the first 5 of 11 keys, CLICK HERE.
Before we jump into keys 6 to 11, I want to talk about “labeling” emotional experiences. Thank you to Kenneth Andert, for our email exchange last week. He’s one of my long-time subscribers and friend, and a remarkable psychotherapist. www.kennethandert.com.
A word about labeling…
Ken pointed out, “From my perspective, the beginning of the predicament is the labeling of the arising phenomena. Creating the duality of ‘want don’t want’ sets the mind up from the beginning. Dropping all labeling and instead focusing on the energy arising in the body, allowing it to just be there is helpful.”
I couldn’t agree more,labeling creates duality. We’re either peaceful or we’re not. We’re overwhelmed or we’re not. Inner Peace and overwhelm are labels. Yet, it’s all just energy.
Arising “energy” can be referred to as overwhelm, fear or stress, or even something positive like excitement, gratitude or peace. When we experience the “energy” of the moment, just allowing it to arise without judgment, and without resistance, regardless of what it is — there is a flavor of inner peace inside.
That “inner peace” is the same consciousness that we find in meditation or while watching a sunset. We are aware… witnessing and allowing the sensations of the moment. That palpable awareness is inherently peaceful — even when the inside and outside experience is all over the map.
Inner peace is also an attractive emotional state.But, clear consciousness is the kind of “inner peace” I’m really talking about. That’s why I often say, “When we’re aligned or “okay” with whatever life circumstances or inner reactions arise — inner peace is present.”
As Ken remarked, “The allowing is the key. What we call that essence (inner peace, awareness, consciousness, etc. ) isn’t as important. Words aren’t, as you know, reality anyway.”
Remember, our emotions are simply feedback about
how aligned or misaligned we are with life.
11 Keys for Transforming Your Relationship with Overwhelm
Last week’s tips were focused on the “being with” overwhelm, starting with a powerful mindset, the awareness of “overwhelm” arising, breathing into the energy of it, becoming very present and finally letting go in some way.
If we weren’t labeling the intense experience as “overwhelm,” we could just allow the sensations to arise and dissipate.
But, we’re all human and sometimes emotions don’t readily dissipate. There is a “practical” aspect to this thing or label called “overwhelm” — and there are a few additional keys I lean on, that keep a busy life moving forward gracefully, or at least moving forward.
We can’t take the “thing” in this case “overwhelm” too too seriously, and yet, it’s a “reality” for some. And that’s the label that arose for me during and after my recent move. So now, back to those additional tips.
Tips 6 -10
6. Narrow your focus. Moving into a new house is overwhelming, especially when it happens in ONE day, with a broken foot. Then there is the unpacking of all the boxes. Things to buy. Things to organize. Decisions about where things go. And it’s A LOT. Meanwhile, life continues. Kids. Work. Managing finances. Health issues. Laundry. Grocery shopping. Fixing things. Showers. Oh, and eating, sleeping, and relaxing. LOL!
You don’t have to move to feel overwhelmed. All you need to be plagued with overwhelm is say “yes” to more than can possibly be done in a day, week or month. Write down 1000’s of to-do’s and believe they’re all urgent, and …. in comes overwhelm!
When you’re overwhelmed, chances are good you aren’t clear about what’s most important. I’m constantly asking, “What is the highest priority?” Allow a narrow focus. One box. One task. One project.
And if it’s a boss asking for more and more, you may need to politely ask which priority is most important, so you can focus accordingly.
7. Get it down on paper…and clump. I like getting everythingout of my head and onto paper. But, when all of the competing to-do’s, tasks and projects start getting mushed together, and don’t even fit on one page – the experience can feel overwhelming, right? After the initial brain dump, I find it helpful to separate the myriad of tasks and goals, organizing them into smaller, common themed groups.
Two simple ways to do this. My favorite, and fastest way, is taking a sheet of paper and drawing a line down the middle. Then draw 4 lines across to create 10 quadrants. Each box represents a project (website, marketing campaign, birthday party, trip, Change of Addresses to make, etc), or area of life or other goal (i.e. health, finances, friends to connect with, etc).
Each box allows for only 5-10 tasks or so, minimizing overwhelm. Star the handful to focus on next. Categories change based on what’s happening in my life. When half or more is crossed off, or it feels overwhelming, it’s time for a new fresh, more focused list.
If this little one-page system doesn’t hold all the tasks or categories clogging my clear thinking, then I use a large notepad, giving one page to each category or area of life.
The key is getting it ALL out of my head and onto paper in an organized manner. It gives me a placeholder for new “to-do’s” that come in, and allows me to pick and choose my focus more easily. And helps me strategize and plan.
For example, deciding on an afternoon to knock out all the errands, an hour to tackle important calls, a day to dedicate to writing or special project.
Getting it all down on paper also frees my mind, and thus restoring that unobstructed flow of consciousness and inner peace.
One key to this system is an expansive time horizon.No deadline dates. Things may get nixed from this “master list” over time as inspiration shifts. When your mind doesn’t have to remember every little thing – like the 5 items you need at the store – you become more relaxed, and it becomes easier to think clearly.
Get it down on paper. Find a system that works for you.
8. Self Care is a MUST. All of the previous strategies work best when I’ve had a good night sleep, good nutrition and have prioritized yoga and workouts. The degree of difficulty goes up exponentially the more these fundamentals are compromised or lacking.
You know this. Are you making self-care habits a priority?
If overwhelm is consuming your life, consider this a reminder to up the ante on self care. Seems counter intuitive. When I’m overwhelmed, all I want is maximum TIME to complete my gargantuan task list!
Yet, when we give ourselves the extra care we need, thinking is clearer, we have more energy and we’re more efficient and productive! And it’s easier to keep inner peace intact. If you need some extra inspiration toget your self care habits back on trackCLICK HERE.
9. Keep your sense of humor.Instead of letting “the straw break the camel’s back”…. laugh your way back to peace! Overwhelm isn’t really a laughing matter when you’ve labeled it as such and are stuck in it. However, when you observe the absurd, it may be God’s way of providing comedic relief.
John couldn’t wait for that first hot Jacuzzi after waiting weeksto get the heater repaired. So we were shocked when, instead of coming back out to a steamy Jacuzzi, it was completely empty!!! What???????
I burst out laughing. 30-45 minutes later, my engineer oriented husband figured out the RIGHT way to heat the pool and jacuzzi, without draining it. I had received the wrong instructions.
Certainly being upset and dwelling in anger and frustration could be justified, but is feeling icky fun or helpful?
10. Soak in the highs along the way. When we keep coming back to the present moment, it’s easy to stop and take in life’s many gifts along the way. Capturing a moment of silliness. Stopping for the sunset. Connecting with a colleague, friend or parent. Pausing for a moment. Acknowledging a success. Enjoying snuggles with my children. Petting the dog or cat. Stopping for a gratitude check. Savoring an inspiring book. Basking in a hot soothing shower. Relaxing. Gazing at the clouds, stars or city lights in the distance.
I include this important key for several reasons. One, life is only experienced as a non-stop overwhelm when we’re resisting life. All it takes is a moment to relax back in the present moment to take in the joys of the hour,whether you’re at home or work.
We may ebb and flow into and out of overwhelm, and into and out of peace during intense periods of our day or life. But when we’re looking for and open to the simple joys — it diffuses overwhelm.
Soon, we’ll notice there are many, many, many more high’s in a day, and overwhelm is indeed, a fleeting visitor. When this unwanted visitor knocks on your door, graciously say “no” thank you… and find or create the next high.
11. Self Compassion. It is a lofty idea to believe you’re impervious to the challenges of life. You’re human. I’m human. As much as I’d loved to tout experiencing inner peace 24/7, it’s just not how life unfolds. At least not for me. Exhaustion. Lack of sleep. Competing demands. Overwhelm. Darn those labels!
Instead of beating yourself up for losing your cool, or succumbing to overwhelm, just compassionately love yourself back to inner peace.When I can’t figure out how to respond gracefully to an irrational 6 year old who is melting down, when that “one more thing” topples my spirit, and self judgment kicks in, self-compassion is my ace.
When all the other keys above haven’t yet relaxed overwhelm… self compassion alwaysworks.
Sometimes on the verge of tears, I imagine a warm and loving presence surrounding me, allowing everything that IS, to be exactly as it is. Allowing the flawed me who is snagged in overwhelm to just experience overwhelm and helplessness WHILE being compassionately loved by me.
You know the song by Christina Perri…”you’re only human…” Love that human being that is YOU with all your heart, especially when overwhelm is trying to rule the roost. Love and compassion is a fabulous equalizer.
Rinse and Repeat
I can’t emphasize enough how frequently I lean on each and every one of these principles. It’s a dance.
* Keep making inner peace a priority.
* Keep noticing when you’re out of sync.
* Keep allowing overwhelm to be your catalyst back to inner peace.
* Keep relaxing fully into the present moment.
* Keep letting go.
* Keep narrowing your focus.
* Keep getting it all down on paper… and clumping tasks.
* Keep making self care a priority.
* Keep your sense of humor!
* Keep soaking in the highs along the way.
* Keep loving yourself compassionately.
Notice how the tips began and ended with being present with and allowing the energy of overwhelm to come and go through a loving presence. You can do this. You can transform your relationship with overwhelm.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about today’s article below.
That’s it for now.
Until next time, here’s to your success and inner peace.