When you have sensitized yourself to feelings of overwhelm and stress, you learn to recognize the emotion when it starts. It is at this moment that you have the power to choose your response. You can allow the emotions to overwhelm you OR you can take charge and choose a different response.
Breathe. Take in some air. It's time to determine what is causing the overwhelm. There are two sources: external, meaning there's too much on your plate, and internal, meaning your thought processes and your own emotional state are taking you for a ride. Since you can control your internal state AND you can learn ways to control your commitments and what gets placed on your plate, the good news is that you have the power to eliminate overwhelm from your life!
Knowing "why" you become overwhelmed and stressed is an important first step in not only eliminating the stress you experience today but also to learn new skills so that you no longer invite overwhelm and stress into your life in the future.
Let's begin by focusing on the external sources and looking at your plate. Make a list of how you spend your time including obligations and responsibilities. Check each one for the reason why you agree to do what you do.
- Are you agreeing to do things that should be someone else's responsibility?
- Do you take on other people's problems and workload?
- A good way to check is if everyone else leaves work at 5pm while you're still trying to finish the day's work. If this is the case, you'll feel resentment.
- Do you have difficulty saying "no"?
- Do you believe you have no choice but to say "yes" to every request?
- Do you feel like you don't have the right to say "no"?
- Is this cultural? Is it something you learned growing up? Is it how you view authority or people you perceive as being of higher education, knowledge, or position?
- Do you say "yes" to anything and everything before giving yourself a chance to think about it?
- Do you fear confrontation or conflict so you avoid it at all costs?
- Do you have unrealistic expectations for how much you can actually accomplish in the time you have available?
- Do you need to be liked?
- Do you enjoy being the "go to" person even though you feel like the dumping ground?
- Are you focused on pleasing or impressing others?
- Do you find yourself doing lots of things because you are the only one who can seem to get it all done?
- Do you have difficulty delegating?
- Do you have difficulty accepting the quality of someone else's work?
- Or is it that you don't like giving up control?
- Do you keep yourself busy because you have not yet identified your area of expertise? In other words, you do busy work rather than focus on your genius work.
You Like Chaos and Drama.
- Are you addicted to being busy and always having something to do? Have you identified yourself as an adrenaline junkie?
- Do you get excited by the drama and craziness of having so much to do?
- Do you enjoy complaining and getting attention from others?
- Do you believe that you work better under the pressure of deadlines?
You'll notice that whatever the reason(s) you become overwhelmed; they all have to do with how you think about tasks placed in front of you. Your thoughts impact your self-esteem and self-worth, your ability to handle conflict and confrontation, your expectations of yourself and others, and your need to feel valued.
Understanding why you agree to do the things you do is the first step toward adopting a new lifestyle. Awareness is the important first step toward change. Observe yourself throughout your day and ask yourself questions to determine the reason for agreeing to do the things you do. What do you gain by saying "yes" to the request for your time and talents? You must gain something or you wouldn't rush to do it.
There are also costs associated with everything you agree to do. There is an opportunity cost - while you are busy doing one thing, you are unable to do something else during that time. Other costs include a decrease to your self-esteem, lack of time for more enjoyable activities, and an increase in overwhelm and frustration.
Once you identify what you seek to gain by doing these things, then you can learn to make better choices about your commitments and do things for the right reasons.
Your partner for success,
Coach Julie ~ Nurturing Your Success