Overwhelm isn’t a problem; it’s a symptom.
Coaching individuals through an intense transformational training program has brought up the issue of overwhelm on more than one occasion. Many new participants blame the structure of the program, or try and convince me their life is so busy right now, or they have more important things to worry about. Some of them believe the ways of being or methods of communication of their fellow teammates are the cause for overwhelm, and often turn off the notifications on their phones in futile effort to evade.
Knowing this program has been designed to imitate life, and set them up for success after they graduate, I know the reason is somewhere outside of their immediate consciousness. The awareness of this, and a commitment to help them breakthrough this limiting belief, motivates me to dive into this subject a little deeper.
Now, more than ever, I believe overwhelm isn’t the problem; it’s a symptom.
Whether we feel overwhelmed by our ‘to do’ list, demands of our job, amount of money we owe, time we have or people who need us, there is a greater fear lurking underneath. Overwhelm is simply our bodies emotional response to that fear. The extent to which we are able to conquer that fear, and surpass the feelings of overwhelm, depends on how deep we are willing to go.
If I am overwhelmed by my schedule, I can simply cancel my appointments. If I’m overwhelmed by my job, I can take a vacation. If the balance overwhelms me on my credit card, I can simply shove the bill in a drawer.
Removing the irritant is fairly simple – if not temporary.
Because, that overwhelm, is sure to reappear – like a sleeping guard dog, just waiting to wake up and attack! Those appointments will stack up again, that work will be waiting for me, and those creditors will come knocking on my door. Overwhelm is just the symptom.
What fear is really lurking underneath it all?
Until we dive into the deeper reasons for the emotional tidal wave that is overwhelm, the way out will elude us. It is imperative to have the willingness to ask, “Where is this really coming from?” Only then can we commit to actions that shift our reality.
Why are the appointments in my schedule overwhelming me? Am I afraid I won’t have enough time for more important things? Am I fearful I might let my family down? Maybe I’m afraid it will expose the fact that I don’t have my sh*t together?
Why does my job overwhelm me? Am I afraid I’m not capable of doing the job and my boss will find out I’m not good enough? Does the work not bring me joy and I’m afraid I’ll be stuck doing soul-sucking work until I retire?
Why does a balance on a sheet of paper overwhelm me? Am I afraid I won’t be able to pay my bills and they will foreclose on my house, leaving me out in the streets? Does my overwhelm stem from a fear for my safety?
Doing the deeper work to uncover the true fear allows us to focus our energy, effectively addressing the real issue, rather than wasting it on excess stress. It allows us to create sustainable solutions and decreases the likelihood of future overwhelms.
Allowing an overwhelming situation or circumstance to distract you from what you want to accomplish or who you want to be, is like giving away your power. Does it deserve that? Are you going to let a busy schedule hold you back, or a chaotic job dictate what you are capable of? Will you let a few demanding people take you off your mission, or a few negative people bring your mood and energy down?
Where has overwhelm taken over your life?
Who are you giving your personal power to?
And more importantly...
Are you done yet?!
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