3 Magical Spells To Conquer The Overwhelm

Updated: Aug 28, 2019

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There is much to do, parts and procedures that all fit into my bigger plan. Sometimes, I have such a lofty agenda, it intimidates me, and I don’t scare easy.

Ten years ago, I can remember laying in bed for hours prior to “Waking.” I would tell myself awful things, ruminate on my failings, insecurities, and what, at the time, I perceived to be my poorest qualities. I would lay there for hours, going to war with myself. It was exhausting. Depression defined me, and if I did manage to win the fight that morning, I was so beaten and bruised for the day, the edges of every experiences were already torn and frayed. It got to the point that I usually gave up and didn’t get out of bed, if I could avoid it. If I could avoid actually living, I did.

That isn’t really possible though. One must work, and eat, and although I had created a life that catered to my mindset, it wasn’t a life I wanted. I got bored. I could see how this battle was one only I was fighting, and it was making everything even more difficult. I slowly chipped away at this mental battle, fought in the wee hours of every morning.

Initially all I could do was turn it off. “STOP” I would scream at the repetitive hate and insults bouncing around my consciousness. However, as this commitment to an easier time grew, so did my techniques. Meditation, yoga, exercise, were the best strategies. I slowly evolved my environment, community and lifestyle. This involved moving cities, changing careers and making very different choices.

Its been years since I fought that loosing battle.

Pressure. I laid in bed this morning for an hour knowing it was too much to get out of bed I had too much to do, expectations so high I was afraid to meet them, this odd tension between true faith in my abilities, and overwhelming doubt at my capabilities.

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Wait - Let me start again.

I can be a bit dramatic, especially when it comes to my writing. This morning I woke up before my alarm - bliss right? Thing is, I have been aiming to wake at 5am, so this is beyond a miracle. I used to go to sleep at that time! I started this newest strategy for a variety of reasons, but mainly because it is the only way I can even attempt to get though half of my shit for the day.

So much about that ^ paragraph blows my fucking mind. Waking up early AND naturally. Happily ticking off only HALF (if even that, some days). Being OK with the imperfections of it all. SO much has changed.

I used to spend my morning battling with myself. I’d start with telling myself I was a failure and I’d never achieve anything, I’d back that up with some physical hate and resentment for my body and appearance, and I’d finish it all off with so much crushing overwhelm from work, that by the time I actually got started with my day, I was already exhausted. And some days never really started.

I became aware that this pattern, this habit, this PRACTICE was defeatist. Of course I lost every day when I started with such horrifying thoughts, feelings of despair and failure, and the absence of action. I knew I needed to stop but I didn’t know how. I finally just started screaming STOP. Guess what, it worked. That small, simple action worked.

I learned to capture my thoughts - and silently scream STOP. And they did. When they’d start to sneak around the periphery of my morning or day, I’d scream at them, again … and again. Suddenly I was aware of every negative thought and feeling. This gave me power. With that awareness I discovered positive affirmations, supportive exercise, slow but sure steps forward.

Every now and again, I experience that overwhelming pressure - before my eyes open, trying to keep me down, so I can’t win my day. It happened this morning. I have so many tools in my belt now, so it’s interesting, more than anything else, when this old monster rears it’s ugly head. I explore the resistance, and here’s why …

Resistance is literally strength training. Nothing gets stronger without resistance, right? Like your muscles, learning any new skill, even trying new things, it’s HARD! But it’s a practice. You practice with a weight, slowly raising the heaviness to create more distance to get stronger. You repeat and focus to learn a new skill. You get scared but push through when you try something new. And you get better at each iteration. You actually prepare for and welcome the resistance!

Overwhelm is putting the cart before the horse. The simplest way to address to fear is action. Being paralyzed is a practice, and one can get just as accustomed to not taking action as they can to taking one small step. Fear feels a lot like excitement. Pressure feels a lot like strength. When you can capture this thought - perhaps you labelled it as some thing restrictive like fear and pressure - and understand it is just a word for a feeling, you can relabel it to something expansive like excitement and strength.

Here’s a few actions you can take when things get a bit overwhelming. These can be mental exercise, but writing is a very relaxing process for your brain. :

Ask Yourself

Why Why am I feeling “…”

How true is this “…”

What is another label for “…”

What do I need right now?

The Have’s vs The Want

... List out everything you have achieved thus far, everything you have, and everything you appreciate in this moment

.... Then consider the object of desire Or, just accept the Right Now.

The shit and angst and disappointment comes from the gap between the What Could Be. But if Right Now is enough (which is a very filling meal), then What Would Be is just a bonus, no pressure necessary.

The Next Best Thing

... Note how you’re feeling right NOW.

... Label it.

... Pick an emotion (often times when we’re in our heads and we’ll find actions or thoughts, verbs or adjectives … try and discover the actual emotion).

ex. suffocatingly overwhelmed (suffocating being the feeling overwhelmed being the thought)

... If you could feel ever-so-slightly better, what would that feeling be? What thought would accompany that emotion? What’s 1 degree better?

ex. I’m afraid no one will show up. Well, then no one will know, and then it’s like if a forest falls in the woods and no one is around to hear …

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