Overwhelm is a word that pops into my mind a lot lately. It’s even become something I measure within myself on a day to day, and even minute to minute basis.
Do you know what feeling I’m talking about? It’s not the same as stress. Stress has a low-lying hum. Overwhelm comes on fast. In a moment, I can go from just fine to total overwhelm. It’s a slippery trigger that for me, once it’s on, is a snowball rolling downhill of things I need to do.
When I’m in overwhelm, I somehow lose sight of the fact that not everything actually needs to be done right at this exact moment. It’s like I’ve suddenly lost control of everything and I’m no longer in charge. I feel like it all needs to be done NOW!
But that’s never true.
Overwhelm is one of the many examples where my mind lies to me and I must first realize the lie, then have the awareness to not the emotions of the lie overtake everything.
I am using a new planner system this year and there are a couple of key metrics I am tracking to see if I can find patterns. One of them is overwhelm. At the end of the day, when I sit to do my gratitude practice and get ready for bed, I track in a log, “How overwhelmed was I today?” I even have a rating scale.
If I can get my arms around the habit. I can re-pattern it.
Yes, whatever this trigger is that puts me into overwhelm is an energetic habit.
Here’s the other part of my system, when I get up in the morning, I do this:
I take an honest appraisal of everything in my calendar and ask these three questions:
- Does this need to be done (like, ever)?
- Does this need to be done today?
- Does this need to be done by me?
It’s my proactive attack on overwhelm. I call it “ruthless prioritization.”
And then I get on with my day knowing that overwhelm can still hit me and I accept that. When I get into my car and back into the street, I accept that a texting driver could ram into me. I take the risk because I have someplace to go.
And I always move forward in curiosity for ways to make my journey easier.