Coping with Overwhelm

You found out you didn’t follow procedures for sending the secure email and now the entire process needs to be restarted.  Again.  You didn’t double check your suitcase and forgot your cell phone charger AND your asthma prescription for your week-long business trip.  Ugh.  You finally decide to refinance your home and the list of items you have to complete is daunting.  Sigh.  You are in the throes of overwhelm and it can be paralyzing. Whoa!


My husband, dog and I have been in the middle of The Bureaucracy of Overwhelm after our home was flooded a few weeks back.  Moving out, moving into temporary housing, contacting FEMA, SBA, our Insurance Company, Mortgage Company, Contractor, Debris Bins…the list is overwhelming.  Endless. Ceaseless.  I am not saying that I have handled this without any stress or crying, but the coping is getting easier.


So this is what I have learned about coping with overwhelm:


  • As Creighton Abrams famously said, “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.”  I had three (yes, three!) clients have this exact same insight this week.  One was refinancing a home, another was planning on selling a home and a third was working on a big project.  We all cope with the overwhelm of a big project.  It’s so important to break it down.  I felt like the universe was giving me a hint with the three separate clients all quoting the same quote.  I learn more from their insights than my own.  So what did I do?  I focus on one agency a day.  FEMA one day, SBA the next, the mortgage company the day after that.  It’s too overwhelming to deal with all of them at one time.  Break it down into manageable pieces.


  • So what do you do if your routine was to meditate and take a 30-minute walk before the flood?  You need to be meditating and taking a 30-minute walk after the flood.  Even if you are in a new place, and you don’t know where you want to walk or what space you want to meditate in, figure it out.  Develop and adapt to get your routine back in place.  We’ve been living in temporary housing for exactly a week and I finally used this fabulous routine that my friend Susannah recommended called “Qi Gong: 7 Minutes of Magic (for Health).”  I had been using it every morning pre-flood.  Now I need to add it back into my routine post-flood.  It is magic.  Put your routine back together to help alleviate the stress of overwhelm.


  • For the past year, I have been trying to move from scarcity to abundance.  I had committed to golfing in a charity golf tournament pre-flood, but had not yet written the check.  The tournament was a week post-flood.  I wavered.  A hundred and fifty dollars is a hundred and fifty dollars.  But I was coming from a place of abundance.  “I always have money coming my way.”  I wrote the check.  We played and had a great time.  It felt so much better than cowering at home gnashing my teeth, hoping for an insurance adjuster or FEMA representative to show up.  Fire up your internal flame for abundance.


  • It’s amazing how we are surrounded by wonderful, caring people.  We have had countless offers of support, whether it was moving debris, moving out, financial help, offers of temporary housing and even gift cards for dinner.  I knew that everyone was supportive, but when there is a disaster and there are so many that are worse off than us (at least we had a roof over our head for the first few weeks post-storm), it is humbling to receive so many offers of  help and support.  Being grateful is a much better space for me to be in mentally than the “Why did this happen to me?” headspace.  Remain positive and you’ll reduce the overwhelm.


  • I really could not have survived all the overwhelm without the love and support of my family.  My husband and I are constantly taking stock of each other.  “I couldn’t do this without you.”  “I love you so much for being there.”  “I can’t believe you took care of the debris bin.”  My son drove all the way from Miami to help us move out and my daughter came home to move her belongings after being ill.  My husband has gone from a king size bed to a queen.  Two bathrooms to one.  His own office to sharing a computer in our living room.  They went above and beyond out of love.  Love helps me cope.


As my husband said yesterday, “I’ve never gone through anything like this.”  I responded by giving him a big hug.  I recognized the experience of feeling overwhelm but getting through it together…..priceless.

Why you need to act As If

You drive up to the restaurant and see a full parking lot.  “Ugh.  This is going to be a long wait.”  That co-worker you dislike was given the project you wanted. “Grrr.  He wins every time.” Your child doesn’t respond to your text.  “She must have been in a car accident.”  You are, in essence, expecting the worst.  And guess what typically follows?  More bad news.  When you align your energy and expectation with what will go wrong often, invariably, it does.


The flip side of this is acting As If what you really desire is going to happen.  This was something I personally experienced some 13 years ago when my husband and I were trying to sell our house in California.  We were living in a rented house in North Carolina, my stipend for rent from the company I was working for was ending, the credit cards were maxed and one offer on the house in California had just fallen through.  I was in a really bad desperate space.  My teenage step daughter was visiting at the time.  As she looked at the rental we were living in, she said, “This looks like a hospital.”  Not very inviting, huh?   We had intentionally left everything in boxes so that “it would be easier to move.”  The trouble was, we were not creating a home in North Carolina.  We were in transition and set to stay in transition for the foreseeable future.  Not a good place to be.  We were acting As If we were in transition, staying stuck.  We spent the next weekend putting up pictures, knickknacks, buying fresh flowers and making it a “home”.  You know what happened next? The house in California had an offer in the next week and closed within a month.  End of transition.  We acted As If we were home in North Carolina, and so it was.


These are reasons why you need to act As If:


  • Dwelling on what will go wrong is debilitating. Spending hours on ruminating about what your sister said to you or how your co-worker wronged you is fuel for what Dr. Daniel Amen calls “Automatic Negative Thoughts.”  When you fuel these “ANTs”, they only getting bigger.  The neural pathways in your brain which at one time might have been a deer trail, start to build into a roadway and then into a super highway.  You know these people.  Things rarely go well for them because they are so vigilant for what will go wrongLet go of the dwelling and act As If.


  • It is energizing.  When we finally decorated our rental house, I felt great.  I felt like I belonged.  I liked the space I was in.  The universe feels that vibe.  It returns the energy.  I have a few clients that are in transition.  I asked what they could do to move forward, to act As If.  One made the decision to buy a kitchen table so he would not have to eat on the floor of the apartment.  Another paid for the ex’s stuff to be shipped off.  Once these decisions were made, there were big smiles and a sense of buzzing in the room.  The force field holding them back was let go and now they were energized to move forward.


  • You identify with the real feeling that you want.  Whether it’s freedom, a weight lifted or a sense of adventure, discovering the guiding force to propel you forward is critical.  As Andrea Schulman wrote, “So you want a new car, and you’d really love to manifest it with the Law of Attraction.  This is a great thing to want….but what is at the root of this wanting?  What emotion are you trying to feel by attracting a new car?”  Freedom, prosperity or control?  There is a core emotion driving that desire.  So tap into it.


  • Look for signs.  Look for alignment.  This is the opposite of dwelling on what’s going wrong.  A personal sign for me is a blue heron.  Every time I see one whether in person or a photo or painting, I feel emboldened.  I’m on the right path.  The universe is winking at me.  As CRR Global would call it, it’s a Quantum Flirt.  It’s all going to be OK.  When you act As If, you expect these signs to come, and so they do.  Open your awareness to signs that are around you.


  • Come from a space of abundance.  This requires rewiring your brain.  I have been brought up with a sense of lack.  I can remember telling my kids that we couldn’t afford that.  As Schulman wrote, “Would a person who has lots of money say ‘I can’t afford that’ when she saw something pricey she wanted?  No, she would probably say something like, ‘I’d love to get that!’ – so you should too. Even if you can’t afford it, act as if you could. I have had this mantra for a while, ‘Money is always coming my way.'”  And it shows up.  A refund on my credit card, a gift card from a friend, a check in the mailbox or my husband taking me to dinner.  Abundance is constantly following me and thus it is so.


To act As If is quite liberating.  I am constantly expecting the unexpected.  I am in forward motion. How about you?