I’ve Seen Fire and (I wish) I’ve Seen Rain…

Being evacuated due to a wildfire that nearly burned down your neighborhood is a sobering thing. And as the Santa Ana winds blast away outside again, as they have every other Monday for the past five Mondays, two of which sparked wildfires, I’ve never hoped for it to rain so much in my life! But here in Southern California, the chances of a good, soaking rain this early in the season are pretty much nil. So on pins and needles I sit.

I can only imagine how difficult this is for those who have lost their houses to the wildfires this summer and fall as well as those who have been affected by the other natural disasters that have struck globally. My heart goes out and I sometimes feel so overwhelmed by it all.

Overwhelmed for us, for others, for the world…

This sense of feeling overwhelmed is disconcerting and disorienting and it doesn’t take a natural disaster to trigger it. So, if a little figurative cleansing rain is nowhere on the horizon, what are you to do? How do you get yourself back to a more centered and balanced place so you’re not so deeply affected by whatever it is that’s overwhelming you?

Let’s say your “To Do” list is a mile long and you’re not getting anything done because you’re overwhelmed by just how much you need to get done. Many of us can relate to this and we often fall into the trap of viewing everything on the list as being of equal importance, but how often is this actually true? How much of it actually HAS to get done? Have you managed to create work for yourself that is unnecessary? If so, why are you wasting your time on unnecessary tasks?

We often take on more than we need to or create unnecessary work in the belief that we’re the only ones who can do it, but how often is this actually true? Think about it…

A few ways to answer these questions and tackle that list

One approach is to assign priority to tasks. For example, by using a number system of 1-4 with one being “must do”, two being “do soon”, three being “can wait”, and four “ditch it”. You’ll probably find that most items don’t fall in the “must do” category and that some may actually fall into the “ditch it” category. The key here is to take a moment and think about each item on the list and which, if any, are vital, unnecessary, or can be combined with another item.

You can also simply look at each item and ask yourself “what’s the worst that will happen if I don’t get this done today?” Sit with it for a minute, think honestly about the answer, and then make a decision about how to prioritize that particular task. The key to making this approach work is to be honest with yourself about each task and then to re-work the list in line with these decisions.

What if there are certain items you simply can’t get to or aren’t very good at? Then it’s time to call in reinforcements. Do you have anyone who can help? A colleague or subordinate to whom you can delegate the task? A family member who has some extra time and is willing to help? A teenager you can bribe?

All of these approaches will force you to think methodically about the value of your time and the value of the action item, which then results in giving you a realistic view of the list. When you look at this in relation to your day/week/life, it helps to create some perspective and thus leeway in how to plan your activities for today and in the days to come.

And then there’s overwhelm that comes from trauma

Now there’s also the kind of overwhelm I was talking about at the beginning of this blog post, where you’ve been through a somewhat traumatic experience and are afraid it will repeat itself. As a result, you’re overwhelmed by the feelings of helplessness that accompany this type of situation. 

This type of overwhelm requires a different approach. Here, we have to deal with the thoughts that are driving the sense of overwhelm you’re feeling. Thoughts are powerful. Let me repeat that. THOUGHTS ARE POWERFUL. They influence how we feel, how we react, and the outcomes we get.

Thoughts are powerful stuff!

There are many tools to help us deal with our thoughts, none of which lend themselves to a blog post. But a little introduction is definitely in order here.

What I want to stress is that thought work is a powerful tool for helping us get over major and minor issues in our lives. One of the skills I bring to the table is the ability to hear beyond your words and help you reach deeply into yourself to identify thoughts and beliefs that are holding you back, causing you problems, and/or overwhelming you.

If you can identify a problematic thought and then reframe it in a way that changes the effect it has on you for the better, you have scored a major victory. Learning to identify the thought is trick #1 and then reframing it in a productive way is trick #2. Having someone hearing you and helping to focus your attention in the direction of both can be a very important step in ridding yourself of a specific type of overwhelm or a specific type of issue affecting your life.

Whether your overwhelm is from the sheer amount of stuff you need to get done, or due to a traumatic or difficult experience, there are tools and techniques that can help you take control and get the results you want. If you’re interested in learning more, you know what to do.

Be passionate about your path and power up your life with LifeWalker Coach!
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