The overwhelm is this annoying little monster that grows inside of you when you start to move out of your comfort zone. It disguises itself as your gut feeling and tricks you into thinking you’re on the wrong path. This is exactly how the overwhelm gets you to self-sabotage.
Everyone knows it’s important to listen to your gut. The overwhelm is different from your gut. Your gut is your trusted intuition. Your gut is educated on who you are and what makes you tick. Your gut pulls from your past experiences and warns you about how your future decisions might turn out. The overwhelm is not smart. It’s chaotic. Where your gut senses danger and warns you to get out of dodge, the overwhelm senses discomfort and pulls the fire alarm on your whole damn existence. Ignore the fire alarm. There’s no real fire. It’s just a drill. And, much like a drill, you need to take a moment, stand outside of your situation for a second, and then regroup. Your re-attack will confuse the overwhelm but never your gut. Your gut will still know if something is actually wrong. The overwhelm will remain indecisive.
Okay, so the overwhelm wants you to make terrible decisions because it’s seeking comfort for you. When we seek comfort too quickly, we seek it in the wrong places. We reach into previous comfortable situations and look at them with puppy dog eyes behind rose colored glasses. We forget to acknowledge that there are reasons that situation isn’t a part of our lives anymore and, instead, devote our entire future to the earlier and easier-to-reminisce-on memories. For example: We all have great memories with an ex where we felt safe, secure, and comfortable. We also have memories with that same exact person where we felt ourselves in uncomfortable turmoil, and yet, those memories are rarely highlighted.
When in a new uncomfortable situation we don’t think, “Wow! Last time I felt uncomfortable, I really survived that and handled the situation. So I bet I will this time too and even better than before!” Nope. We say “Oh my God! I’m soooo uncomfortable. I wish I could go back to the way things were when I was with so and so and life was easy.” THAT AIN’T IT.
So for me, two weeks ago, I completely changed jobs. I’ve been in this intimidating training program that has kind of taken over my brain from day one. There was very very little focus on Chapter Free. Maybe an hour a day, if at all. And that’s fine. That’s okay. I’m not upset with myself for that at all. Adjustment periods are forgivable. However, when it came to having something to write last weekend, I was so tapped out of my creative side because I was so hyper focused on the more pragmatic side of my brain, that I could not, for the life of me, think of anything to write about. And, I gotta tell ya, what I drew up for you guys was bullshit. It was horrible. Posting it would have been criminal.
I reached out to my incredible friend, Miguel about my writers block. Something he pointed out to me was that if you look at my homepage about me section, you’ll see my passion is to inspire people to find their own voice. That’s really important to me. Therefore, it’s also really important to me that I am genuine and don’t write something every week just to say I did. So, after speaking to Miguel, I reached into my week for some inspiration. I don’t need to write you guys a ten page essay about my new job but I can certainly write about how these last two weeks have made me feel and the strange but certain acceleration of growth I have exhibited.
The Overwhelm was born. The realization that there was this discomfort that was so worth powering through and finding the other side of was too good to pass up. Here’s a quick overview of my last two weeks:
Monday: I’m excited! Wait, what? …I suck at this. I’m gonna throw up.
Tuesday: I don’t wanna. Wait, that just made sense. Nope. Never mind.
Wednesday: Oh my god. I love this. No wait. Help me. Oh, wait, I’m fine.
Thursday: How on earth am I supposed to… Ohhhhhh I like this.
Saturday: I am a failure at my new job and at blogging.
Sunday: Chapter Free is dead. Bury me in satin.
Monday: I will never be good at this. Never mind. That went great.
Tuesday: Fuckkkkk I’m so bad at this. Wait. Ohmygod I’m so good at this.
Wednesday: I was better at this yesterday but I’m still pretty good at it.
Thursday: What is my job?
Friday: What do you mean, we don’t have work on Monday?
Confused? Cool. SAME, BABE!
Truly, I’m not overwhelmed in the sense where I feel like I’m doing the wrong thing and that’s something I really want to drive home here. When there’s overwhelm, I want you to look at what is driving you and where you are being driven. Are you feeling the scared overwhelm that pulls you backwards or the electric overwhelm that motivates you forwards. It’s okay if you’re feeling both. The reason I want you to assess it is because that tells you your next step.
If you’re feeling the push forward you have to put your focus into maximizing your effort there. You have to remain on top of your shit and lead with consistency to get where you need to go . If you’re feeling that pull back, you gotta break that down a lot more. Because we all have past traumas, unresolved issues, and current life complications that lead us to our overwhelm. Maybe your narrative sounds something like: I just started this new job, but also my friend is really sick, and my dog has pneumonia, and my house is on fire. Maybe you have 10,000 things going on at once making it really hard for you to put your focus on your moves forward within your newest stressor. That’s when you can take a step back and literally schedule yourself some type of self-care break time. Ask yourself what you need to do to feel better overall so that you can move through your overwhelm with a bit more ease.
Let’s assess my overwhelm. I just started a new job working five consecutive days, for nine hours a day, with additional evening commitments, and am still working weekends at my previous job after being furloughed for six months during a pandemic, where I wasn’t using my time socially, and therefore just had a hell of a lot of me time on my hands.
Well, gee. I wonder what changed. I wonder why my psyche is vomiting anxiety and negative self talk into my brain every 15 minutes. Could it be that I miss giving myself personal attention? QUITE LIKELY. Seems like a pretty strong diagnostic to me. Next step: treatment.
First week of my new schedule lead me to a Saturday where I was so burnt out, I was miserable. The second week was different. I used my break times during my work day to relax, meditate, cook, play with my cats, etc. Anything that was completely self serving was put on the schedule for those breaks. It’s still a weekly workload that I need to continue acclimating to, but dropping little Emily moments in there really relieved some pressure for me.
The overwhelm tries to influence me to do dumb shit. To reach into comfortable moments from my past and try to recreate them. That won’t resolve anything and will only lead to consequential distractions. Instead, I set an alarm for an hour to two from now, enjoy some me time, and feel refreshed when it’s time to get back to it. And then, I can alleviate some of that overwhelm by calling my supervisor for advice, or watching a TEDtalk that relates to my new field, or finding a free online course on the software that confuses the shit out of me.
There’s a great quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes: “The mode in which the inevitable comes to pass is through effort.” What that means to me is that whatever successes I am supposed to achieve in this lifetime, will not come to me without me getting behind the mode of transportation to their fruition. Wether you believe we all have a decided fate, we all have complete free will, or perhaps have a little bit of both, nothing is all that can come from nothing. You have to try. You have to put in effort. You have to listen. You have to pay attention. You have to make mistakes. You have to allow successes. Effort is the mode.
Don’t be so afraid of your own truth. There are plenty of real memories worth acknowledging that can help propel you forward. If all you rely on is fabricated goodness, you will never escape the overwhelm.
Don’t let the overwhelm win.