I’m too busy, I’ve got too much on, I’m exhausted, I’m tired. These are all cries of someone who is experiencing overwhelm. It puts us in a tailspin and sometimes it even feels hard to breathe. I still get this way from time to time. But I can recognise the symptoms and know where to reach for help and how to help myself now. It wasn’t always that way. I stayed in cranky town, thinking everyone around me was an idiot until I realised the common factor was me. Now I know when I'm thinking everyone is being difficult it’s time to take a close look inward. You may have different signs that tell you that you are overwhelmed or heading down that path. Do you know what they are?
The two most important things to be aware of is how you feel and what you are telling yourself. For me I was stuck in a cycle of being an over-achiever and it was perfectly acceptable to be cranky. In a male dominated corporate environment a woman couldn’t show emotion, or I’d be seen as weak. My generation wasn’t encouraged to have a voice either. Everything was better when I was invisible at home and either cranky or driven at work. But where did that leave me? Buried beneath hidden emotions, that’s where.
The road out of being stuck in a cycle of overwhelm was to recognise how I was feeling. I started by making a list of feeling words. You’d be amazed at how few feeling words we actually use. Anger, Fear, Happy are high level descriptors and it’s so much more fun to explore the subtle feelings. Until we can name an emotion, we can’t recognise it. So, I started to recognise my emotions and then to allow myself to feel them. I did that by asking why. Why was I feeling this way and then asking how I wanted to feel instead. The moment we start thinking about our feelings we tend to take the wind out of the sail and soften the emotion. That’s gold when you’re feeling shitty.
Feelings are one component and the second crucial component is words. Words we tell ourselves and words we tell others. If we focus on what we can’t do and on everything that is going wrong, we give that thought energy and attention. That means those thoughts are amplified in our lives. When we shift the words we use, to align with how we want things to be, then all that goes with it must change too. Saying I can’t do something, or I don’t have energy is draining. Instead saying words like “I wonder what I’m able to do now”, “What if I could do it” raises your energy. You’d be amazed how those two simple questions can shift how you feel. When you do that you can shift from overwhelm and move closer to joy.
What words will you change?