The solution to dealing with overwhelm has little to do with doing, but a whole lot to do with who you are BE-ing. A ton of email, information and projects trigger overwhelm, but they’re not the cause. You are the cause. That is, part of who you are might be called “Overwhelmed Janet” or “Overwhelmed Bill.”
When those triggers happen, “Overwhelmed You” goes into full overwhelm mode. You feel stressed, confused, panicked. Your heart rate goes up and blood supply goes to your limbs for the “fight or flight” reaction. You’re not thinking too clearly. You want to run away, grab some chocolate, drink a glass of wine, or better, go to sleep.
Overwhelm is simply a reaction that is protecting you from a perceived danger triggered by all that stuff on your desk, in your email box and on your to do list. All that stuff’s not out to get you, but it seems like it!
While it is possible to live in an almost a constant state of overwhelm, if we fail to manage it correctly productivity plummets, creativity ceases and your business stops being fun.
The best response we usually have to overwhelm is to get organized. And there’s nothing wrong with that, except that all you are doing is to temporarily remove the triggers. But triggers have the habit of popping up again. You face 100 emails one morning and overwhelm is looming large again, bigger than life.
So, is there an ultimate solution to overwhelm?
Yes. Don’t focus primarily on the triggers, but on connecting with another, different You. Let’s call this “Focused You.” Focused You is more resourceful, more calm, more present, more balanced. (You can also be imagine this as “Natural You,” aligned with your Purpose.) You have the skills and the ability to act from Focused You whenever you want. It’s just that you forgot. Overwhelmed You took over and reigns supreme much of the time.
If the purpose of Overwhelmed You is to keep you safe from harm, then the purpose of Focused You is act with clarity and intelligence. Focused you is interested in getting the job done, making a contribution, even doing what you appear to be resisting.
You might think of Overwhelmed You as operating from the edge of a storm, spinning fast; and Focused You centered in the eye of the storm – calm, clear, and peaceful.
To regain access to and reconnect with Focused You, first hit “pause” on your “hurry-up-button.” Then take a few deep breaths, and give yourself permission to feel the overwhelm, release it, and remind yourself that you have the authority to think, say, and do from a place of peace, wholeness, and clarity. A moment or two of silence followed by a powerful affirmation to reconnect you with your “center” can quickly turn the tables. The key is to first disconnect from your mind chatter and become present to your Wiser Self in the present moment.
When you step into Focused You, even in a chaotic situation with a lot of overwhelm triggers, you can still be calm and centered. Then you can more effectively make your priority list, handle your email, and get on with the important work that is calling to you.