“In ACT, our main interest in a thought is not whether it’s true or false, but whether it’s helpful; that is, if we pay attention to this thought, will it help us create the life we want?”
― Russ Harris
So many women I know are feeling totally overwhelmed.
It’s the juggling
It’s the accommodating
It’s the mental load
It’s the worry about how we look, how we dress, if our house is tidy
The list goes on.
Not only that, it's trying to stay on top of:
Performance reviews in the workplace.
You go to bed at night and you have all these thoughts racing around in your head.
We are going to have a bit of a look at overwhelm today and by the end of this blog I will have shared 3 strategies to help overcome the overwhelm.
Do you ever think to yourself, ‘stop the train I want to get off’, or ‘this isn’t what I signed up for?’
How exactly did it come to this?
Women have more freedom than we have ever had before. We can call our own shots, have the careers that we’ve always wanted, choose if we sleep with boys or girls, if we marry or don’t marry, we have access to education and technology, and prior to covid - we had travel….ahhh travel….remember those good old days when we could travel…..
YET, here we are feeling totally overwhelmed?!!
What if you weren’t so overwhelmed?
What would you do?
What would be different for you, for your family, for your relationship?
Back in the days when I was a teacher I spent a lot of time overwhelmed. There was always more to do, more to achieve. Finishing each day exhausted with a sense of a never ending pile of ‘ more to do’.
I really wanted the very best for my students. I was, and still am, passionate about quality education for students in rural and regional public schools so was working very hard to uphold my values on this.
But back then, I realise now in hindsight, I was also really fused with my own ‘not good enough story’. I was forever heading off on professional development, not just the ones that the school wanted me to do, but jumping onto any opportunity that came about and self funding a lot of my own PD on the weekends and holidays too. I thought that if I just knew more, understood more, was more organised, could more effectively manage student behaviour then the overwhelm would stop.
I also had a hard time saying no to anything that anyone asked of me. I was constantly feeling under the pump to prove myself. Those first few years in the profession can be gruelling.
It took me getting burned out before I started to work out that I needed to do things differently.
I often wonder how things might have been different if I knew back then what I know now.
What advice would I give my younger self?
Well I would start by teaching my younger self these 3 things:
Values Firstly, I want you to take a few moments to imagine that life. What would you be doing if you weren’t so overwhelmed. This isn’t about sitting on a tropical island drinking sipping on margarita’s.
I want you to imagine how you will be relating to the people in your life, your loved ones, your colleagues, the people who serve you in shops, how will you be behaving as a road user?
I can share this with you, when I am overwhelmed, the way I relate to the world around me changes. When we are constantly overwhelmed we can lose sight of what truly matters. Everything becomes urgent, uber important and needs to be done now. The thing that can slip is how we relate and connect with ourselves, others and the world around us.
So I want you to be tapping into what truly matters here. Take a moment to identify the feeling and quality that will be present if you could drop the overwhelm.
Would you be relating to your children in a calm and peaceful way?
Will you feel more able to listen to your partner?
Will you be moving about the workplace differently?
Bring 3 words that describe what matters to you here. Is it connection, presence, safety, peace?
You might have different words and that’s okay. What we’re doing here is tapping into what is important to us. These are our values and we’ll come back to them in a few minutes.
Naming the Story
I mentioned before my ‘not good enough’ story. That’s the term I use to summarise all the thoughts and feelings that arise that really all point to the same thing.
Many of us are walking around with a ‘not-good-enough’ story, we just don’t always know it.
The ‘not-good-enough’ story is what stops us from living out our full potential.
The voice in our head that says, ‘you can’t do that’, ‘who do you think you are’, ‘play it safe’. The ‘not-good-enough’ story is also what keeps us taking on more and more things in order to prove to ourselves and the world that we are good enough.
The trouble is sometimes we take on so many things that we end up not doing any of them very well. In an effort to avoid our ‘not-good-enough’ story we end up reinforcing it.
Tuning in to what our minds are telling us is a step towards disentangling ourselves from the hold those thoughts have over us.
We might have spent a lot of time trying to silence this inner voice in various ways, but we’re trying something different now.
What we’re doing is beginning to notice when these thoughts the story is showing up and when we are choosing things because we are hooked in by our story.
Now rather than allowing the thoughts to hook us in, capture our attention and drag us away from the person that we want to be, we notice and name the story.
“Thanks, mind for that perspective!’ You might say, ‘but I’ve got this’.
You might also try checking in when you’re about to say “yes” to something if you are doing this because you are hooked into your ‘not-good-enough’ story.
This leads to my third strategy for today which is connected to the other two.
Becoming aware firstly of our values and what truly matters to us, brings clarity about what we want to move towards in our life.
Becoming aware of our ‘not-good-enough’ story, and how that story shapes our behaviours can help us get clear on and develop more effective boundaries.
We need to develop the ability to set boundaries, and make conscious, values-aligned decisions about what we say yes and no to.
So before you say yes to that additional task or opportunity, check in with yourself.
Which of your values are you moving towards here, if you say “yes”, or if you say “no”?
When we have this story running through our lives, it can be really difficult to say no. The thoughts of not being good enough can get even louder.
Is your ‘not-good-enough’ story keeping you trapped in a constant cycle of overwhelm as you try to prove yourself?
Can you notice and name to yourself what is showing up?
Be willing to be a bit uncomfortable by saying ‘no’?
When you say ‘no’ to one thing, you might be saying ‘yes’ to something else.
Come back to those values that we identified earlier. What truly matters here? Is this choice aligning going to move you towards more peace, calm and connection. Or take you further away from your preferred state?
I do hope that this is helpful to you and helps you to move on from overwhelm.
Please know that this blog is developed for entertainment and educational purposes and is not intended to replace counselling or provide therapy.
Just reading a blog is not always enough and if you are really struggling with overwhelm finding a good counsellor is recommended, or contact the mental health lines in your area.
Please contact us if your would like to book a session with a counsellor.
If you have any questions about what we have discussed today, please feel free to comment below or get in contact.
It’s all about using ACT to live more of the life that you have imagined so jump on over to my website to download that.
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It's available here.
Until next time!