“Why me?” you shout loudly inside your own head. “Why am I in this mess and why is everything happening all at once?”
They are good questions, but do you stop your brain from whirring around in circles like a hamster wheel long enough to answer them?
Some people have a great relationship with themselves, while others don’t. Now that might sound really bizarre, but let me elaborate.
Firstly, you may be relieved to know that it’s quite normal to feel overwhelmed, especially with the pace of our modern world and the often unreasonable expectations that we allow society to place on us sometimes.
I find many of my coaching clients start off by engaging my services because they are simply swamped with everything that’s going on in their world. A lot of this is because they are unwittingly lumping all of their problems together as if it was one massive, all-consuming and life-threatening blob. I understand– I’ve been there myself.
Part of why people struggle to deal with this tsunami of anxiety is that they haven’t learned how to ask themselves better questions. Another factor is that most people simply don’t think, and by that I mean that they don’t step back away from their crazy life and review it as if they had temporarily stepped outside of themselves. That’s one advantage I have straight away as their coach – I’m not them, so I can perceive it differently.
So let’s go back to the question of your relationship with yourself. Here are a few key questions:
- Have you ever taken the time to reflect on who you are?
- Have you thought about your own strengths and weaknesses?
- Have you asked yourself ‘What are my core values?’
- What do you like about yourself?
- What do you dislike about yourself?
There are many more I could ask you, but that’s enough for now to make the point. The better you know yourself, the more resilient you become. That immediately means that you increase your ability to cope with stress and adversity, including a sense of overwhelm. It’s like putting on a life-jacket and sailing over the top of that tsunami I mentioned.
So part of dealing with overwhelm is realising that you CAN. Recognising your own capacity for having competently handled previous situations builds your confidence for dealing with this latest blob of yukky stuff.
Secondly, I’ll go back to an old tried and trusted question – “How do you eat an elephant?” Don’t worry I’m not actually proposing that you do! The answer though if you were to undertake that task, would be “A mouthful at a time”.
In other words, the reason you are often overwhelmed is that you are looking at ‘everything’ as one monstrous problem, when you’d be better served by breaking it down into bite-sized morsels. If you’re a visual person or a kinaesthetic learner (more attuned to feelings than images), write down your problem on a big piece of paper, then separate it out into smaller problems, even tearing off the separate pieces and moving them around on a table. If you’re a person who learns through audio, speak these problems out loud and ask yourself (and answer) the full range of five ‘W’’s and one ‘H’ question:
Who? What? Why? When? Where? And How?
Now here’s the secret gem that you deserve for having read my post today. Ask yourself this:
“What would be a better question?”
The key here is to separate the ‘problem’ into smaller ‘problems’, then examine them in turn to see what can be done about them.
Here’s another nugget – If they still seem like problems, ask yourself:
‘What lesson or lessons is the Universe trying to teach me here?’ and ‘How could this be seen as an opportunity?’
Going through those processes doesn’t always make the problems disappear, but it certainly helps you to look at them differently and perhaps to seek alternative resources. In the best examples, you can turn them around completely and wonder why you ever felt overwhelmed in the first place.
One family I started working with a while ago were in complete turmoil. They were trying to build their business but it seemed to be going wrong. They felt as if they didn’t really know how to run their business. They had staff who were not really the right people for the job. They were in the middle of renovating their home, whilst living in it, so they had builders and tradies coming and going. They had two very young children – you know how demanding that alone can be. They were battling and feeling chaotically swamped.
When I started asking them about their aspirations for the business, I continued to ask how that business would fit in the overall context of their lives. I asked them what was on their ‘bucket list?’ They answered with, “We don’t like to think about those things because we know we’ll probably never make them happen!”
Long story short, we separated the issues. We figured out a long-term and exit strategy, re-branded their business, recruited a new team, identified and worked on their skill-sets and rebuilt their self-confidence. Today they are way ahead of that dark day. They now have a swimming pool and play areas in their back yard for their children. They are taking holidays with their family and their business is in far better shape.
It starts with asking yourself better questions, like changing “Why can’t we have that lifestyle?” to “How could we make that happen?”
If you need any help with it, feel free to contact me via this website for a chat or call 0419 860 382.