On New Year’s Eve 2013 I set out for myself some pretty big goals for 2014. And I set the goals in a way that is different - I made real goals - not vague desires like I usually do.
I also declared them to the world. They are out there for all to see and judge and support. Some believe I will achieve them. Some believe I will fail.
I had some awareness of all of this when I wrote out my goals, and yet, I didn’t quite anticipate the effect.
It is now 11 days into the New Year and already I’ve been overwhelmed twice.
In fact I’ve been through two cycles that looked something like this: inspiration – possibility – excitement – action – frustration – overwhelm – disappointment – withdrawal – acceptance – and back to inspiration.
If I am honest I would have to tell you that in the overwhelm stage I nearly made the decision to “modify” my goals to make them more “realistic”.
Last weekend for example, I was in Seattle at the first weekend of the 12 month Accomplishment Coaching program I am doing. It was Saturday, I was running on little sleep, and my belief in my ability to complete the course on top of everything else I want to do this year was wavering. By the end of the day it was gone. The chatter in my head telling me it was impossible was drowning out everything else. I nearly made the decision right then and there to quit.
The second time I hit overwhelmed was last night. Yesterday morning I was talking with my life coach about the projects I have taken on for the year. I was trying to be excited but feelings of overwhelm were growing. I could see the next two weeks on my calendar full of things – all things I had chosen and all things I love to do – but right then all I could see was the amount of them.
“You didn’t get as much done today as you wanted…You didn’t get as much done yesterday as you wanted…How do you expect to catch up on those things AND get done everything you wanted to do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, AND THE NEXT DAY?? You are clearly going to fail. You might as well set smaller goals for yourself now, so I don’t have to say I told you so later.”
My mind can be pretty powerful sometimes.
Getting Over It
Normally when I get overwhelmed I withdraw. I don’t allow anyone to see anything in myself that I perceive as weakness. I do everything in my power to appear strong, positive, and confident at all times.
And while this may give the appearance that I am strong, positive, and confident, and that my life is “perfect”, what I’ve realized is it is actually evidence of the opposite.
Hiding my weaknesses has only served to limit me.
Over the past year I have slowly learned this. And, with much internal resistance, I have incorporated some vulnerability into my life.
In Seattle last weekend I tried this on a little bit, when Sunday morning, after a good night's sleep and renewed trust in myself and the goals I had chosen, I shared with the group how I had felt the day before, and my thoughts of quitting. This was a great experience for me, yet it was still me sharing once everything was back to being "perfect".
My life coach and I discussed yesterday how I might – when I was hit with the feelings of overwhelm that were snowballing towards me – choose something other than what was predictable for me (withdrawal, disappointment etc.). I decided I would try reaching out to someone when it happened.
Last night I was out with my boyfriend for a night of trivia with friends and all I could think about were the things I wasn’t getting done. I was totally wrapped up in my head. I was withdrawing from conversation (predictable!). I had an awareness of what I was doing and couldn’t seem to stop it. I was heading straight for disappointment (also predictable!).
At the end of the evening, when I was about to withdraw completely, I remembered I could choose something different.
I started talking. I started explaining how I was feeling, and how I was ashamed to be feeling it. I rambled on for about 20 minutes, feeling guilty about rambling on and sure I was going to be told I was crazy, and when I stopped talking and took a deep breath, all I could feel was love.
I can’t say that I avoided feeling overwhelmed or disappointed, but by allowing myself to feel what I was feeling and by being vulnerable and speaking from my heart, I was able to subtract some loneliness and add a lot of love, and that is something that I am pretty excited about.
So what have I learned?
Only what I already knew and did not earlier have the courage to choose.
We are served best not by getting over, hiding, or avoiding our emotions, but by living and loving through them. We are served by listening to our heart.
Although speaking from my heart is not a "fix", loving life and myself even when I am overwhelmed is something I am willing to try on a little more often.