Do you believe that you can end overwhelm? Can you describe what being overwhelmed feels like to you? One definition is “to be buried or drowned beneath a huge mass.” Sometimes when I’m listening to clients I’ll hear them describe overwhelm as feeling swamped, buried, or flooded. One woman said, “I feel like my soul is submerged.” She didn’t believe it was possible to end overwhelm. What is the huge mass that is overwhelming to you? What would it feel like to be rid of that big mass?
What is Overwhelm?
Usually, overwhelm is resistance to doing what we have set ourselves up to do – activities and responsibilities we don’t want but say yes to anyway. We create our own overwhelm hell and then don’t want to step up and deal with it. If it is your habit to say yes to everything your child, spouse, or friends ask, you’ve set up your very own overwhelm hell.
Why do we do get overwhelmed?
- We like the feeling of being vital and important
- We like being able to say we are too busy
- We bow to peer pressure
- We say yes because we are afraid to say no
- We think we’ll hurt someone’s feelings by saying no
The truth is, if you died tomorrow most of the activities you feel you absolutely have to do would go right on without you. If you pick and choose with your own well-being in mind you will feel joyful about stepping up to your commitments rather than dreading them. People around you will see and sense that energy of joy.
How to End Overwhelm
Now that you’re in it, though, how do you end overwhelm? Start with the Ten By Ten Plan. Pick a time when you are willing to spend 10 minutes alone. It could be right before bed, early in the morning, just after lunch. Commit to yourself that you will do this without fail (no excuses whatsoever) for 10 days. Ten minutes for ten days in a row.
What do you do with those ten minutes? First, allow absolutely no interruptions – no phone, no television, no computer, no crying kid, no knock at the door. The world will live without you for ten minutes. Second, do what pleases you. Read 10 minutes in a book, draw, meditate, pray, drink water and stretch, shut your eyes for a quick nap, or write a few lines in a journal. Just be totally quiet and alone for 10 full minutes, once a day for ten days.
At the end of 10 days see how you feel. Overwhelm comes from loading up your brain, body, and heart with too much. When we do this we start losing sight of ourselves – what feels good, what feels pleasant, what we would like to do if we had free time. When you set boundaries around 10 small minutes the time is small but the impact is big. You are giving yourself the message that you count – that you are just as important as all the things you have allowed to overwhelm you. You’ll feel different about yourself at the end of of your Ten by Ten Plan – and my bet is that you’ll want to keep going.
The Ten by Ten Plan doesn’t cost you money, but it’s a great investment in yourself. It will put you on the road to ending overwhelm.
You can read more about stepping up to meet your resistance in this article I did for the Huffington Post. Another great resource is the article Preventing Pressure from Becoming Stress by my friend, author and meditation teacher Phillip Moffitt.
If you’re looking for a speaker or a workshop leader on the topic of how to end overwhelm, contact me. I’ve got lots more to go along with the Ten by Ten Plan that can help.