This isn’t going to be another one of those “six steps and you’re cured” kind of posts about the problem of overwhelm. That’s because if you don’t solve the fundamental mindset problem underlying overwhelm then you’re unlikely to solve the overwhelm – no matter how many steps you take.
And here’s the real problem that underlies overwhelm: you’re operating from reactivity.
In the modern world, we are all constantly accosted by the outside forces. We are accosted by well-meaning people who tell us what we should be doing. We are accosted by information and news. We are accosted by people who want something from us. We are accosted by messages of consumerism. We are accosted by emails and social media. And more….
The key to overwhelm lies in our reactions – or non reactions – to all of these assaults on our peace and well-being. If you are operating from a place of reactivity, it means that each time you run into one of these assaults, it provokes a reaction in you – often an emotional one. That’s exhausting and draining.
Example: A Reactive Facebook Feed
For example, say you’re on Facebook, looking through the newsfeed. Say you run across a post from a friend about an abduction. You see a bunch of grisly detail about how it happened, where it happened, to whom it happened. You see a bunch of comments from other people who are up in arms about how awful it all is, how unsafe the world is, and on and on.
This is a perfect example of reactivity: you have just been pulled into one of the worst kinds of reactivity, which is fear-based. Fear is a very strong reactive driver of our human behavior.
Once you get sucked into that, it releases a flood of neurotransmitters and hormones that put you in an anxious state – making you more susceptible to reacting to the next thing that comes along.
And so it goes, from one reaction to the next – each one of them prompting a feeling of “I should do something about that!!” combined with a knowing that you just don’t have the time or resources to do something about everything.
It doesn’t have to be Facebook, either. The same thing goes for watching the news, listening to negative colleagues, etc. Any source of information or feedback into your life that makes you feel like you should be doing something about it, that you should add it to your “to do” list, is causing reactivity.
Before you get the impression that I’m going to say you should run off and go meditate in a monastery for six years, that’s not the point. Personally, I think that’s boring.
How to not react in a reactive world
Let’s assume you aren’t going to go for the monastery route – what do you do?
The key is to shift into a totally proactive mode of being. Once you do this, almost nothing will stop you or distract you, and you’ll find yourself being less and less reactive to all this outside noise that attempts to intrude.
A perfect example is in the writing of this post. I sat down in front of the computer in a proactive determination to get this done. While I was doing that, I got several messages from people wanting stuff from me, and I ignored them. I will come back to them later.
Just don’t get in my way when I’m on a mission. That’s proactivity.
Once you’re on that path, then overwhelm is impossible. You simply won’t let all that junk penetrate your bubble and slow you down.
Getting your priorities straight
Doing this requires that you get your priorities straightened out. It requires that you know what you really want, and you connect to that with passion and determination.
If you’ve been living for a long time in reactive mode, it may require a big-time “housecleaning” of your life. It may require some time meditating and in quiet contemplation. It may require help from someone outside of your own mind who can identify the limiting beliefs holding you back (this is one of the core things I do for my top clients).
However you do it, this is essential. Until you get connected to the core of yourself where all your passion and enthusiasm lies, and that connection becomes so strong that nothing else can interfere, then each time you encounter some outside input, you will find yourself back in reactive mode.
And that brings you back into overwhelm.
It isn’t an easy journey to permanently rid yourself of reactivity in our overloaded world. Yet it is a journey well worth the taking.
If you want to eliminate overwhelm for good, then make it your mission to permanently get out of reactive mode. You’ll find that in the process of making that shift, it can eliminate anxiety, depression, and a host of other problems as well.