Getting Past Feeling Overwhelmed and Finding Focus

focusLast week seemed to be Overwhelm Week with my clients. Several were excited for their coaching to work through work and life situations that made them feel completely overwhelmed. And with feeling overwhelmed comes paralysis – they become so aware of how overwhelmed they are, that their energy focuses on them, their problems, the volume and the helplessness, they then have no energy left to get things done (to eliminate the feeling of overwhelm). They are stuck. Nothing happens.

Though getting past overwhelm requires also getting organized and building priorities (what’s urgent, what’s important and what’s both), the key to its undoing is an understanding our personal energy. Here is what I share with my clients about energy and how energy is the gateway to staying organized and getting the important things in work and life done.

Energy is catabolic (diminishing and unproductive) or anabolic (growing and productive). Feeling overwhelmed naturally brings on our lowest level of energy (catabolic) – of feeling like a victim because the situation creating the feeling of being overwhelmed, owns us. We are at the effect of these events – it may be a demanding boss and work schedule; it may be a challenging home situation or a busy kids/household schedule; it may be worn out by caring for someone who is not well or trying to get yourself out of situation that needs changing (relationship, work, etc). The more we focus on how we feel in these events, the more we use our energy to focus on how bad our situation is. We are like a dog chasing its tail – the more we think about it, the worse we feel, so the more we think about it. This now uses up all of the energy needed to make changes – including getting organized, setting priorities and getting things done. We have to free ourselves from this catabolic energy in order to redirect our energy to being productive, or we will find our situation will never change.

People who are masters at getting things done, staying organized and moving things forward are this way because they change how they look at their world. Eckhard Tolle shares in his book, A New Earth, that we should be in only one of these three awakened modalities: acceptance, enjoyment or enthusiasm. Notice that all of these are positive energies. The reason for this is as energy moves from negative to positive (from victim to acceptance) we start to see how to move past where we are. We now have energy to consider how we might be able to organize our space, our work or our emotions. We have the energy to start to prioritize what is around us to get in it in an order that can make things happen. We become unstuck, unfrozen untrapped, and uncaught (I know I made up a few words, but I liked the rhythm…). We move out of victim and into conscious and powerful performer. All this can happen by seeing that we are stuck and choosing to focus on opportunities to get unstuck instead of staying in victim or helpless mode.

In helping my clients, I find our starting point is reviewing the thoughts, feelings and behaviors that are present in victim energy, and the thoughts, feelings and behaviors that are in opportunity energy. Many times by seeing that both of these are choices in the same circumstances, those who are stuck can start to visualize a way out. They are encouraged because they can see what success looks like and feel empowered enough to work through the situations that are creating their victim thinking.

We can’t be victim and optimist at the same moment. So the more we shift our thinking out of victim to optimist, the more energy we have available to focus on solutions, opportunities and possibilities. We stop making our discontentment and feeling overwhelmed the center of our energy. We can then find ways to make things happen.

Achieving means getting things done. Go for the fuel source – the energy. It creates the power to wake up like the person in the Lunesta commercials – ready and raring to go – to face the world – to make the to-do list – to organize their space – to create the priorities – and to get things done.