This morning I was feeling overwhelmed. Why? I started making a list: work on novel revision — finish by tomorrow; reschedule some meetings; go to store; drop off packages at UPS; do some cleaning. Wait, I never finished painting that little piece of wall. I should get some trimmer string and trim the lawn this time. I really need a new lawn mower. Oh, I still haven’t taken care of that insurance call. Do I need to arrange for a dog and house sitter? I forgot I have that conference call this afternoon at 1:00, and I haven’t spent the time on my special project this month.
If I don’t get these things done, she will be mad, he will be disappointed, he might not help me, … Get it? All these things are very real things that are my responsibility and weighed on me this morning. What part of me? Who did I fear would be upset with me? Yeah, you get it: I had not stopped and asked my heart anything.
I began to recognize the feeling of being overwhelmed — the anxiety, inability to make decisions (prioritize), no focus, the flood of even more things that I should be doing. Do I want to get these things done? Yes, but when it is because of the way I will look to others or feel if they don’t approve, then I must be aware that the life filter which I am choosing to use is ego. The result? Overwhelmed.
Make a better choice, Mike. Okay, Heart, what do I need to do? Write first; that is your job. Then, what will make you feel better? I don’t know. Bullshit. Breathe. Just stop right now for ten minutes — guided meditation. Then, listen.
I did, and after that, I did those things that help with the anxiety, things for me. I know that in such times, after I get in touch with self, physical work that accomplishes something and finishes a job, helps immensely — like mowing the lawn. That feeling of being overwhelmed just melts away when I can process that I am able to finish stuff — just one thing at a time.
Then, I can look at any list I might have made and just pick something, being sensitive to what I want to do, and do it. I do not try to prioritize anything when I’m feeling like this — unless that action just strikes me right — because I know I don’t make good decisions when I’m overwhelmed. I just try to do everything and nothing gets done.
Friedrich Nietzsche said, “The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”
Ego says, “Oh, my god, we’ve got to get all this stuff done! How will we do it?! What will they think if we don’t finish?! They will be so unhappy, angry, …!” Worry, hurry for everyone else so I can feel good in reference to the tribe. If we don’t make a conscious choice, Ego is always the default setting.
Make a better choice of the Heart: “Who are you? How will you express that in the one thing most important to You? Breathe, be aware, choose one more thing and act, if you want to.” Yes, I choose to own and express core Self, at least I did today.
And you, what do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Make a choice: ego or heart.