Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” -Helen Keller
Have you ever said to yourself, “I’m just so overwhelmed”?
There is so much going on in the world today. You’re consuming dozens of things on a daily basis. Maybe you’ve taken on a new project. Or made a job change. Maybe you’ve had a fight with your partner. Or perhaps you have a new baby and just can’t take the stress anymore.
This assertion is even more true with todays’ media and online universe. News stories locally and worldwide, politics, lifestyle, health, fitness, career, entertainment, relationships, home, family, friends, social events, a bevy of information and resources at our fingertips…
Even all the options of what thought leaders to turn to. Or what websites, articles, books or blogs will give us the most insightful answers and advice. We all get overwhelmed. I know I do. All the time. All this information often leaves me feeling paralyzed, overloaded, and feeling lost.
Given how “full” the world is, and how packed our lives can be, it’s so important to learn what this overwhelming feeling means. I believe when we are feeling overwhelm, it’s a great time to see it as a spiritual life lesson and overall a good thing, and I’ll tell you why.
Each time we are stressed and overwhelmed, (or feeling USA moments in our lives: ie. Uncomfortable, Scary, and Awkward!) it means that we are GROWING! We are out of our comfort zone, adapting, learning about ourselves, and ultimately how to cope.
Finding MEANING and lessons in our suffering brings wisdom and healing. No meaning or lessons often brings out bitterness. Here are 9 key things to understand in the world in order to thrive, unlock your power, prevent burnout, and create the results you want in your life. To help bring meaning and healing energy into your life.
1. Remind yourself what you do and do not have control over.
This is a hard one for most people, because there’s a lot we don’t have control over. We don’t have control over circumstances outside of us. This means other people, as well as our past because it’s already done. We can’t control anything that happens out there in the world.
Everything in our present experience is within our control. What we decide to think, our feeling, actions, and results we get in life are completely within our control, but we often forget that.
Yet so much of our life seems out of control, so we must train ourselves to remember that we are in control of a lot! Repeat this with me: “I am in control!”
2. News Flash! Every single thing you do in your life is because you want to FEEL a certain way.If you ask yourself the question: “Why am I not taking action?” It’s because of the way you feel. Or “Why am I taking an action I don’t want to be taking?” It’s because of the way you feel. The worst thing that can happen generally when we take an action, is we feel an uncomfortable feeling. (Perhaps overwhelm, fear, embarrassment, rejection, sadness, or anxiety). So how we feel is driving our actions or inaction. And ultimately, our actions are what create the results that you either want or don’t want in your life.
The next question you might ask yourself is… what causes me to feel a certain way?
And it’s not the circumstances in our lives as we might believe, but it’s actually our thoughts. What we think creates our feelings. When it comes to anything in your life, if you ask yourself why I’m feeling the way I’m feeling? or why am I doing something I’m doing? the answer will always be a thought.
3. Learn how the mind works: it’s natural negative spin cycle and how it’s like an unsupervised toddler!
We have around 60,000 thoughts per day. And most of those thoughts are yesterdays thoughts, and the day before that, and so on. Many of those thoughts may still be from childhood! If you’ve never directed your mind or told your mind what to think, it may be thinking old, negative thoughts over and over. The mind loves to be on a negative spin cycle.
Your mind is a fear based machine that likes to look for patterns, and it likes to be efficient. And it’s REALLY efficient at criticizing, analyzing, comparing, and saying all these nasty, negative things to ourself of how we are not good enough, or how we can be better, more attractive, more successful, etc.
This toxic negative spin cycle can color not only our views about ourself, but also our outlook on life, others, and our world at large. Your mind has basically been an unsupervised toddler left alone in a house running rampant with no direction or structure. (a concept I love from life coach Brooke Castillo from The Life Coach School)
It may be holding sharp objects and running around with them. Once you turn the light on in your mind, you may be tempted to immediately turn it back off.
Most people will start looking in their mind and they start recognizing how much pain they are in or how much negativity they are creating, and they just don’t want to deal with it. I get that, and that’s totally fine. But it really denies you of all of your power and all of your ability to change and ultimately reach your goals, and get the results you want in your life.
4. The first step to change this pattern is watching your mind.
If my thinking is driving everything, (if it’s creating my feelings, which are creating my actions, which is also getting me my results), then I need to know what I’m thinking, right?
But for most people, we aren’t aware of our thoughts nor do we choose what to think.
We have thousands of automatic thoughts a day that we aren’t even aware of. We must then allow ourselves to start having this awareness. You have a mind, but you are not your mind.
You are also NOT your thoughts or the conversations you have with yourself inside your mind. And most of us don’t make that separation, we don’t even recognize that there is a difference there. So in order to go into that “observer mode” and witness our own thinking, we have to separate ourselves from our mind. Being present in the moment is a big part of this, and is truly an art that takes much practice and training.
5. Hold off on that change, dear…
Once you start to make that separation that you are not your mind or your thoughts, and start to notice what your mind is thinking, you might be a little astonished and even disturbed of how much you create your own overwhelm and undesirable patterns due to your thoughts.
You might not like what’s going on inside of there and you might want to immediately change it! And that’s pretty common when we start looking at our mind and it’s jarring the number of negative, critical thoughts we have. But hold off on that change, dear friend. Because first, we have GOT to bring some understanding to how this all works.
6. Stop beating yourself up!
So many of us spend so much time beating ourselves up, and it’s something we have just got to STOP doing! Remember – you are separate from your mind and your thoughts. Your thoughts are not truth. Whenever you start to notice this, just tell yourself:
“Hey! I am not going to beat myself up today!”
"What I’m going to do though is understand with compassion, curiosity, fascination why I do what I do.”
I truly believe that everyone has a really good reason for why they do what they do or why they don’t do what they don’t do. When you notice a negative though, just tell that thought “Thanks for the information!” and let it go. Move on.
7. First things first, Compassionate Understanding.
You are a divine being, that has infinite power and capabilities to create a life you love.
You are meant to live your purpose. Joy, love, connection and abundance are your destiny.
If you try to create a change in your life, perhaps changing an action without understanding this pattern first, it’s much more challenging, if not downright impossible!
That’s why change is so frustrating and difficult because we try to change for example, how much we are eating, or we try to start exercising, or we try to stop procrastinating, or whatever it is that may be contributing to our stress – without changing the thought and feeling that is driving that very thing that we are doing.
Compassion, love, and understanding for ourselves are three extremely important ingredients that are often left out when we try to make a change.
Without them, that ‘change cake’, if you will, will not rise or ever taste quite right. And we probably won’t bake it again.
You need a new recipe, and these are the three star ingredients. And of course gluten free.
“The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.” -Ben Okri
8. You cannot struggle yourself or beat yourself into change.
If you struggle or beat yourself into change, it will not be permanent, and it will not last. Whether you are trying to lose weight or you are trying to do something in your life, you can’t do it with force or willpower.
You must be in a place of compassion, understanding and love, and from there and only there, you can ignite yourself and love yourself into change.
That’s really what I think the most important piece of all of this is, the most important and arduous task is really developing that loving, compassionate connection with ourself through truly understanding ourself and why we think, feel, and do what we do. Then we can finally make sense of and understand our patterns and WHY we are getting the results we are getting and THEN decide if we want to change it.
Instead of beating yourself up or getting angry with yourself, I ask that you pause, take a breath, and understand the pattern for what it is with new eyes, and give yourself some compassion around it BEFORE you try to change anything!
9. Find the Meaning and Lesson!
Growing and healing are not possible without finding these two important things.
You may not see them now, but be open to the world’s spiritual messages and life lessons to you IN your overwhelm and suffering. It may be just what you need.
Next time you are stressed or overwhelmed, remind yourself that you are growing and this is good for you.
Changing the thoughts your have about stress and overwhelm will make a big impact.
“Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.” -Nelson Mandela
What do you do when you get overwhelmed? How do you cope with it, and is it working? If not, what can you try instead?
What do you struggle with to give yourself compassion and understanding about? Do you beat yourself up? How can you start to give yourself more love and compassion and stop this negative cycle? Thank you in advance for reading, commenting and sharing with love, compassion and kindness. You help make our cozy corner of the world wide web an awesome place!