How To Deal With Overwhelm
Ep. 179
| with

Follow Along:

We’re all overwhelmed. All the time.

And we think it’s just the way it is. 

“There is just too much to do.” 

That’s a lie. 

For the past year, I’ve delved into how to overcome my own overwhelm…in building a business, in raising my kids, in surviving a pandemic. 

And it’s been the most eye-opening experience.

Show Transcript
I could take on everything, I could not ask for help, I could pretend that I could do it all, I could try to make everyone else happy and then I would just swim in overwhelm and resentment because that was easier for me to handle those emotions. Like I knew how to do overwhelm. I knew how to do resentment. I didn't know how to sit with someone being upset.

Hey, welcome to Lessons From a Quitter where we believe that it is never too late to start over. No matter how much time or energy you spent getting to where you are, if ultimately you are unfulfilled, then it is time to get out. Join me each week for both inspiration and actionable tips so that we can get you on the road to your dreams.

Hello, my friends. Welcome to another episode of Lessons From a Quitter. I am so excited you are here. Please excuse my voice, I am getting over a cold. And so I am extra nasally just for you but we're going to get through this and hopefully I'll be back to sounding a little less nasally soon. How are you all? I hope you are well. I'm getting over a sickness that knocked me out and uh I'm just kind of gearing back up. Before we jump in today, if you are new here, I do a monthly coaching call that's completely free. I know, so crazy. Wonderful. Actually, people love it because sometimes even if you don't want to get coached, you come on and you listen to what other people are getting coached on and I promise you, it will help because we all have the same brains. And so you start realizing like I have that exact same fear and you can apply it to yourself without actually getting coached. So even if you don't want to get coached but you know you got a lot of mindset stuff going on because you're human and we all do. I want you to sign up and come join us. I switched the times every month so that people at different time zones in different countries can join in. You can sign up at and we'll be gearing up to do some fun things in the new year with that. I might do some workshops and more teaching on those calls. We'll see what happens but you should get on that list. Also, somebody asked me recently like how do I get on your email list? I just want to get your emails every week. And I was like I don't have just a way that you can get on like you have to sign up for something. And so the coaching call is a perfect way to sign up and get on that email list too. Two birds, one stone. So go to and sign up there. Okay.

I picked the topic of overwhelm today because we are in the holidays and that tends to bring up a lot more overwhelm for most people. And this is an emotion that I am very familiar with. And that I have worked a ton on myself and I figured it's time we talk about it because a lot of us suffer from constantly feeling overwhelmed. Okay. And the time of year might make it more or less. Maybe it's less, right. Maybe your work is winding down during the holidays so you're actually more relaxed. That's wonderful. But I think for a lot of us when there's so much family stuff going on and travel and, you know, tons of people's opinions and trying to manage everyone's expectations and also get work done and a million other things, it can feel at times very overwhelming. And we're going to talk about why and how to stop it. Okay. So for me, this was literally my number one feeling like when I did an assessment of like what feelings do I feel the most, what top three feelings. And there was like some good ones. I mostly feel content or I feel overwhelmed. I vacillate between the two. It's an interesting world I live in. But I realized when I started doing thought work, because before thought work, you could not convince me that it wasn't the circumstances in my life that was making me feel overwhelmed. Okay. Like I would have told you you're crazy if you told me that it was just my thoughts kind of creating this for myself because I just had so much to do as a lot of us are just so overwhelmed with everything, work and home and life and kids and working out and, you know, all of these pressures to do everything all the time.

I kept just thinking like there's not enough hours in the day. And um a real quick test for you, if you just want to figure out if it's, is it really my thoughts or is it actually my circumstances? Go ahead and look at the screen time that you spend on your phone, a real clear indication of whether you actually don't have time or whether you like to believe that you don't have time because let me tell ya, I found a ton of time to scroll Instagram and Facebook but I always felt overwhelmed about everything else. And I started realizing I was sort of like addicted to this feeling of overwhelm and it would come up every thing I did, right? When I was working, I was overwhelmed. There was too much work. When I was gonna cook dinner, I was overwhelmed because it wasn't enough time and I would always get there kind of late to start. And the kids were hungry and everybody was ready and I still needed 45 minutes. And I felt rushed and overwhelmed that like it's just too much. And then with my kids, I felt overwhelmed even when I would, you know, have my quote unquote balance and I would stop working and it would be time to hang out with them. I would be overwhelmed by a lot of things, how messy the playroom was and why they were fighting. And all these other things would constantly make me feel this overwhelm. And I have done extensive amounts of work on this feeling for myself. And I'm here to report to you that it does turn out to in fact just be my thoughts and you don't have to have it. So I will explain what I mean by that but let's just get into what it is first.
Okay so obviously overwhelm is a feeling that you feel in your body, right? It's a sensation that you get but I want you to understand where it comes from. And we talk a lot about this on this podcast, that your thoughts, your own thoughts about the circumstances in your life is what creates the feeling for you, not the circumstances, right? Like you have a to-do list or you have tasks at work that can't make you feel anything because somebody else can look at that same list and feel fine. Be like alright, I gotta get through this. Right. And you may look at that list and think oh my God, there's too much to do. Right. And that thought: there's too much to do is what creates the overwhelm. Thoughts like I can't get this all done. I don't know how to do this, right, when you're doing a task that you don't know how to do. That's what starts creating that overwhelm. So it's those thoughts that we have to identify and figure out what we're thinking in that is going to constantly lead back to this feeling of overwhelm. Right. So I kind of got onto this in the beginning like okay, I'm thinking these thoughts that are constantly bringing me back to overwhelm. What I didn't really realize until I started doing thought work is that we have emotions that we indulge in. Okay. This seems very counterintuitive because they tend to be emotions that feel terrible. So it's like why would I want to indulge in an emotion that feels terrible but it's almost like an addiction like a chemical addiction to this feeling, right? That emotion feels familiar to you, it's almost comfortable. Even though it doesn't feel, I don't mean comfort in the way that it feels good, I mean it's like you know it, you know how to get there. And so your brain constantly wants to go back to that because we know how to do this. Right. We know how to do this emotion and it's protecting you from something. There's a lot of emotions that are these emotions that we end up indulging in because it's easier to indulge in that emotion then deal with whatever the underlying emotion is. And I'll explain. But some other common ones, for instance like overwhelm is one, confusion is another, doubt. Right? I see this all the time. So many people come to me because they have no idea what to do. And they're so confused about how to, I mean, just the littlest things where like they absolutely know what to do. Right? Some will be like I don't know how to quit my job. I'm like yeah you do. Of course you do. How do you quit? Right. You walk in and you tell your boss I no longer want to work here. It's not that complicated. It's not that confusing. But we indulge in doubt and confusion because we are afraid like the underlying emotion is this fear of regret. What if I make the wrong decision? Or what if I'm unhappy with this? What will people say? All this stuff. And because it's hard to deal with those feelings because there aren't really answers. We just sit in confusion. And I see this a lot with people that tell me they're stuck like I feel very stuck. And it's almost like because when you're stuck, you're safe. You don't actually have to take action. You don't have to figure out the next step. Right? If you constantly tell yourself well, I don't know what to do here. I don't know what the next step is then you get to stay in the same place over and over again. And even though that feels terrible in its own way, it feels safer than branching out and doing something new, than quitting your job. Then actually taking this huge step where everybody is going to judge you. Right? So like confusion and doubt is one, worry is another, got a lot of worriers, right? And it feels productive. It feels like I'm doing something responsible. I'm trying to think of every single thing that could go wrong. But I'm just really indulging in this emotion because it makes me feel as though I'm being productive, even though it does absolutely nothing. I can worry about everything and it doesn't mean that I control what the outcome is going to be. And a lot of that is like I don't want to sit with the feelings of uncertainty. I don't want to live to sit with the feelings of feeling out of control, I don't have control over what happens. So I'm gonna start worrying so that I can act like I'm doing something so I can feel somewhat in control. Now each one of us has I'm sure, I mean we indulge in a lot of emotions but what I've found is that there's some main ones for each one of us. And for me, I definitely have worry and confusion and doubt to a certain extent but I realized like I'm not a huge worrier like a lot of people. I can manage that pretty well, but for me, it's overwhelm. It's like that's my go-to and it still is. And I've worked on it and I've gotten a lot better. And it's just still where my brain wants to go. And so what I want you to do first is just ask yourself how does it serve me to feel this emotion? Like what am I protecting myself from by constantly feeling overwhelmed? And this is like the first layer of really getting honest with yourself, right? And the answer is not often comfortable. It requires a lot of truth. And sometimes that truth is a little embarrassing or makes us feel silly or childish or whatever. But I want you to try not to judge it and just really journal on like what do I get by worrying, by engaging in doubt or whatever indulgent emotion you want to pick or in this instance like what do I get by constantly feeling overwhelmed? And for me, I realized it allowed me to have a pity party. Like it allowed me to also indulge in self-pity and complaint. If I was always overwhelmed then it wasn't my fault if things slipped through the crack, if I didn't get things done, right. If I didn't do the things I said I would, it wasn't my fault. It's like I'm just so overwhelmed with all the things that I have to do. It allowed me to kind of abdicate that responsibility. I didn't have to take responsibility for what I said I would do. So it's like if dinner isn't ready or I didn't have the time to make dinner, which is fine, I could have just decided I'm going to order today and made a responsible decision that like hey, I have a lot of work today, I want to order but because I didn't want to say no and we're going to get to that in a minute but I couldn't get to dinner. It like allowed me to not feel the shame of oh, I didn't say what I was going to do or whatever other emotions was going to come up for me. And it allowed me to like kind of deflect that responsibility and blame something else. Right? Well like ugh, I take care of everything in this house and everything is on me. And I'm just going to like bitch and complain about this and feel justified, which again, you get to feel whatever you want and you get to think whatever you want. And there are times, and we'll talk about this in a minute where, how we stop this is by getting a real on like what can you handle and what can you not? But I was realizing like actually this goes into my next point, I was not taking responsibility on like taking an actual assessment in what I can and can't do. I was taking on all this stuff and then just complaining about it and just allowing myself because I felt like I couldn't take it actually on, if I felt overwhelmed, gave me a release and gave me something to complain about. It allowed me to have self-pity. Now, going to this point, it also let me avoid other negative emotions, right? Like we just talked about when you indulge in this, it's because there's an underlying emotion that you really don't want to be feeling. And for me is that I didn't like saying no. I didn't want to feel the feelings of somebody else being disappointed that I said no, that I couldn't do something right. If you didn't listen to the last episode, go ahead and check that out. It's on guilt. And I talked about how like a driving force in my life was guilt because I wanted to be a people pleaser. And so in this way, I could just say yes to everybody else. I could take on everything, I could not ask for help, I could pretend that I could do it all, I could try to make everyone else happy. And then I would just swim in overwhelm and resentment. Right? Because that was easier for me to handle those emotions. Like I knew how to do overwhelm. I knew how to do resentment. I could, you know, boil inside. I didn't know how to sit with someone being upset. I didn't know how to sit with someone being mad at me or thinking something about me. I didn't know how to sit with other people's emotions and allow them the responsibility to have those emotions. And so it was just easier, even though like it sounds, you know, sometimes you're like is it easy to sit in overwhelm? No, it's not. And that's the thing is like it feels terrible either way. So you might as well like deal with the underlying emotion and learn how to like stop abandoning yourself. But I hadn't learned that. And I think women in general, we're socialized to do this. Right. We're socialized from when we were children to take on everybody else's needs and to be the caretakers and to always, you know, go above and beyond. And I think especially in modern society, I mean, it's just become so like the standard is so insanely skewed. Like we fought for women's rights, which obviously is a wonderful thing. But in addition to now working and building the career and having the empire, it's not like we were like okay, now we don't do the housework or we kind of go 50/50 on that. It's like oh, we'll just take on everything. We'll be super moms. We have to be helicopter parents. We have to bake organic goods every day for our children because God forbid they eat the trash that is in the supermarkets. We have to also having a side hustle and making extra income so that we can, you know, save money and go on lavish vacations, whatever it is. It's like it's honestly just become to a point where it's ridiculous and is laughable. And yet we keep doing it. And we think that we are responsible for not only our own lives, but everybody around us, our spouse, our children, our boss, whatever. We'll take on everything. And then we'll just complain about how much we have to do. We don't realize we are doing this. And so when I say this, I'm not saying this in a way of like blaming but we become the victims of our own lives. It's easier to go along with what everyone else, especially society, expects of you and try to be quote unquote good and try to do the things that everybody thinks. It's easier to do that than reject the norm, right, then to say like no, I refuse to give into this anymore. I refuse to martyr myself. I refuse to kill myself. I need help. I can't do this all. It's okay if you don't understand when I say no but like I'm not going to do that. Whatever, whatever the situation is for you, that's a really difficult thing to do because you have been trained not to. And so we just do what we've always done, complain because we're overwhelmed and think that there's nothing that we can do about it. There's nothing that can change this. Right. I just like keep piling the stuff on. I become bitter and I just keep playing the victim because I just think that like things either should magically change or it's not going to change at all. And that's not a great plan, hate to be the bearer of the bad news. So in the only way to change that overwhelm is to decide how you want to show up in your life. And so how do you stop it? Well, we just talked about like the first thing is really identifying what other negative emotions you're trying to avoid. Right? So how is doing this thing protecting you? I talked about like when you're in confusion and doubt, you're avoiding the discomfort of taking action. When you're in overwhelm, you're avoiding the discomfort of other people's emotions or whatever the thing might be for you. And you have to be willing to feel those things. There's no like magic pill that you can avoid all this other stuff and feel great all the time. Like when people come to me with kind of the stuckness or the confusion and doubt, what they want is like someone to give them an answer where they don't feel uncertainty, right. Where they're going to take action and they have no worries about like what's going to happen. Now, obviously that's insane. That would never happen. And so that's why you stay stuck, same thing with overwhelm, right? You think like I just want a magical thing where everybody just does their fair share, even though they've been socialized not to or I've trained them to treat me a certain way. And I just want them to be happy about it. And I want to pray and hope and complain and nag and manipulate and do all of these things to make everybody around me act a different way so that I can finally feel happy. That's not how it works. It's can I be okay with them not being happy? And me still saying like yeah, I'm not going to do this anymore. So the first step is identifying why you're doing it. And then the next two steps is, you know, part of this what is that quote like God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Yeah, that's what we're gonna do. I want you to first change what you can, okay. And I know on this podcast we don't talk a lot about changing circumstances but I want you to understand for yourself that you don't have to do anything. I know this is a very hard concept to accept. It was very difficult for me to accept but I want you to think about it. And I'm not saying it in the sense of like you don't have to do it, you get to do it, like feel grateful. No, we're not doing like toxic positivity over here. I just want you to like really go to the extreme. Okay, like just as a mental exercise, you're not going to do it, but really think about all the things that you think you quote unquote have to do, what would happen if you didn't do them? And if we go to the extreme like there's lots of people that don't do the things you're doing, right. Like let's say oh, I have to feed my children. Right. I don't have to technically, lots of parents don't and yes, there's consequences with that. Maybe their children get taken away. Right. And I can realize like I obviously don't want that extreme. I I want to feed my children. I want to be able to provide to them. But I have to first understand like where I think there's things that I'm like I don't know, there's a divine order by God that like requires me to do things and where I'm just choosing to do things. And it's important to do this just so that you can understand that while you don't want to be extreme obviously, you want to do some stuff and you want to really reconnect with the why you want to do those things. Right. You also start realizing like you really do have a lot more control. There's so many things that you keep telling yourself that you have to do that you don't actually have to do. So feeding your children, something you probably want to do. Right. But do you have to do every holiday tradition that your family has always done? Probably not. Right. Do you have to work out every single day for one hour a day because that's what like everybody has told you or because whatever, you're like terrified if you stop or you think that you're lazy if you don't do it. Like can you maybe make it a 10 minute walk one day? Does that start becoming acceptable? Can we even just start like understanding what is possible? Like what if I just decide that I don't want to work out this month or I don't want to cook this month. Maybe this month, the whole month, I'm going to try to delegate. I'm gonna order out or I'm gonna get a food service or I'm going to see what I can do. And even if I don't have the money, maybe I can delegate within my family. Have I asked my spouse to help? Have I asked my kids to help? Why? Why not? What are my preconceived thoughts about what they're able to do and what they're not able to do? How am I coddling them? Just play around with it. Again, ultimately you can decide what you're going to do and what you're not going to do. But I think a lot of times we just lie to ourselves about like it's just easier if I do it because I know how to do it. It's just faster if I do it. But is it easier? Because you're constantly overwhelmed and you're constantly angry or frustrated or resentful towards people. So in what sense is it easier? Yeah, dinner gets served maybe faster but now you're completely depleted by the end of the night. And you're angry at everybody in the house. So like was it easier for them? Maybe it's easier if like your kids make part of the mess but they help you cook or they clean up or you teach them that skill or your spouse. Maybe it's not going to be as great as you, what they cook. Maybe you you have to learn how to give up some control. You have to learn to deal with the feelings of it not being the way you want it to be. But are there things that you can decide I don't have to do this? Play around with it. Right. And figure out what are the things that I'm just constantly taking on and I've told myself I have to, whether that's for holidays, whether it's for work, whether that's for um, you know, whatever it is, friends, family, your personal life, your health. All of the millions of things you're supposed to do and like check off like morning routines and meditation and working out, all of that stuff. None of it has to happen. The holidays. None of it has to happen. You literally don't have to do anything. You don't have to put out a tree. You don't have to cook a meal. You don't have to go to family. You don't have to do anything. And once you can really understand that, you can start deciding like what is it that I really wanna be doing and what are things maybe I don't wanna do that I can take out? And once you figure out like what you can change, what you want to change, what you're choosing to change, the other part is what we focus on mostly here, it's like accepting the things that you're choosing not to change. Right? How do we work on our thoughts that are leading to that overwhelm? And this takes practice but I am telling you it is life-changing. For me, I always had the thought like I have way too much to do. That was just the thing that came up. It was always like I was always thinking about the next thing I had to do, the next thing and the next thing. And what helped me was really slowing down my thoughts every time I got to that place where I wanted to go to the next thing and think about everything I had to do that day and already get myself overwhelmed. And my brain wanted to go back to I have way too much to do, I have way too much. I would gently like redirect and bring myself back to a thought like I can only do one thing at a time. That's the truth, right? Me worrying about what I have to do at five o'clock today doesn't help me do the things I have to do at 9:00 AM today. I'll get to that. And when I started realizing that feeling stressed and overwhelm was never helping me actually accomplish anything. If anything, it was causing so much procrastination because it felt terrible so I constantly wanted a dopamine hit. So I would grab my phone and scroll Instagram which is why my screen time was so insane because I felt like I was being productive to constantly know about everything I have to do and constantly ruminate over it. And, you know, I felt like I was, I don't know, somehow being organized and responsible but it was just creating so much negative emotion for myself that wasn't necessary. So I would just start practicing with this like okay, I'm rushing again. Let me slow it down. Let me focus on what I'm doing right now. I'll get to whatever else I'm gonna do or I won't and I'll figure it out then. Right. But I started just changing the way that I was looking at my tasks. I started thinking more like I'm just going to do things one thing at a time. I'm not gonna try to get everything done. Or if the thought let's say was like something that I didn't know how to do and I felt very overwhelmed about taking on a task let's say my business, I have this come up a lot. And I constantly think like oh God, I gotta do taxes. I don't know how to do that. I would just try to find other thoughts that I believed that I could practice like it's just a puzzle and I have to figure out the pieces. That's it. I have figured out a lot of things before, I can figure this out. It's okay if I get it wrong, I'm learning. It's not going to be the end of the world. Like that's a big thing for a lot of us perfectionists is this catastrophizing where like if I do one thing wrong on this thing, it's gonna completely ruin my life. And the IRS is going to come after me and I'm going to be thrown in jail and we make it so high stakes that it feels overwhelming. And when you realize that's typically never the actual reality and like what is the worst case scenario? It's like you make a mistake and you have to let's say edit your taxes. You have to go back and do something else. Like okay, at the end of the day, I can do that. So maybe if I lower the stakes a little bit, it'll help me get through the task without making as many mistakes cause I'm not as stressed out. And so part of this is just learning like what am I thinking to create? You know, it's not like everything around me that's making me feel this way, it's this pressure I'm putting on myself to do it perfectly, to do it fast, to do everything. And how can I start shifting that? And it was observing myself. I've been doing this work for the past year a lot. And this last launch I had, I just launched the next group of my small group coaching program, Pave Your Path, for next year, for 2022. And I was just watching myself. It's so fascinating now for me to just like observe like be the observer of my own mind because I started creating these like really long to-do lists of everything that had to get done. All of the emails and social media posts and reaching out to certain people and doing podcast episodes and all this stuff that in addition to what I normally do, which is like doing my coaching calls and the free calls and the podcast and all this stuff. And typically, I would freak out right. When I see like all those to do’s is like I would become a complete stress case and I would be completely overwhelmed and it would make me want to bury my head in the sand. Like I would not do anything. And it was amazing this time for me to just keep adding to do lists and not feel anything and be like alright, I'll get to that. I got to do this. What am I doing today? And like organize it, have it on my calendar. Do certain things. Not get to a lot of things. Like there was a lot of things I didn't get to and to start thinking like okay, I guess that's not that important. I guess we're not doing that for this launch and be okay with it. Instead of like oh my God, I always do this. I never get anything right. I'm so bad at this. I'm not getting it perfect. This is a terrible, whatever it is, the usual like spin that I would go. And it was mind-blowing for me to watch and really like proved to myself like oh my God, it's not the tasks that made me stressed. It was my fricking brain. And when I learned to kind of manage that, it all becomes so much easier. Like the tasks are still the task. It's still work. It's still a ton of stuff to do. It's just not a lot of unnecessary suffering that I add to it. And so I just say this like if I can be an example or to give you some hope that it is possible. It is possible to limit the amount of overwhelm that you feel and stress that you feel, even if you don't change any of the tasks that you're doing. Even if you don't change where you work or your boss or the holidays or anything, right. Is allowing like whatever the emotion that you're gonna feel come up, is not making it a big deal if things don't go exactly the way that they're supposed to go, is not indulging in perfectionism and catastrophizing everything that's gonna go wrong, is keeping yourself grounded on like what's the next task and the next task and the next task. And so as you go into the end of the year, I want you to think about what you truly want to be doing and how you can change your thoughts to give yourself a little bit more peace and a little less overwhelm. I want you to practice thoughts like I can only do it one step at a time. It's okay if it doesn't all get done. I figured out a lot of things and I can figure this out too. I'm not responsible for everybody else. I can decide what I need and give it to myself or find a thought that feels good to you. Find a thought that will allow you to slow down the speed with which your brain goes to the 400 other tasks and brings yourself back to the thing you're doing right now. How can you just find a little bit more time in the present instead of constantly going into the future and making yourself worried and making yourself overwhelmed? So give that a try and let me know how it goes. I hope it helps you feel a little more grounded, a little less stressed, less overwhelmed and it helps you find a little more enjoyment in this holiday season. I hope this was helpful and I will be back next week with another episode.

Thank you so much for listening. If you liked this episode, share it with someone else. I promise you know somebody who also hates their job and wants to quit, so why not share the love? And if you want to come follow along for more, come join me on Instagram at LessonsFromAQuitter and make sure you say hi. I'll see you next week for another episode.