It use to amaze me that I could feel a sense of total exhaustion and overwhelm while sitting on the couch eating holiday cookies and watching the Gilmore Girls for the 100th time. I’m not even working, why am I feeling so overwhelmed!?
Other days I would run around in a frenzied state while accomplishing my long list of to dos with only a short-lived sense of relief as I completed my tasks.
I wondered if my issue was poor time management, inherent laziness, or lack of gratitude. I was certain that I was DOING something wrong. Why am I so disconnected from my life?
TURNED OUT THE REAL ISSUE DIDN’T HAVE SHIT TO DO WITH PLANNING, TIME MANAGEMENT, OR DISCIPLINE. IT HAD TO DO WITH WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN MY MIND. I WASN’T DOING ANYTHING WRONG. I WAS THINKING WRONG.
I suffered from perfectionism, fear of failure, fear of judgment, and chronic comparison.
This led to overthinking, over-worrying, over-preparing, under-preparing (from procrastination) and so much mind chatter that I felt like I was drowning. This was not only an insanely difficult way to live, but it was a gigantic energy zapper.
When your mind is running amuck all of the time, your focus, energy, and ability to handle moving through your day with any sense of well-being is compromised. BIG TIME.
You can make all of the to-do lists, preplanning, meal preps in the world, but if your mind is in overdrive with thoughts like:
Am I doing enough?
I am failing my kids.
I should work harder.
_____ has the perfect life. Where did I go wrong?
Why am I not more grateful?
What if my boss can tell that I slacked on that last project?
What do people really think of me at work?
I should be more successful.
...you are going to feel like a big pile of crap.
Your mind has the power to hijack your mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. The desire to perform perfectly, not fail, not be judged, and to keep up with the Jones’ will create a constant sense that you can’t keep up. And you can’t. Because mentally you have created an impossible expectation for your life.
Most of the time we look to numb out the mind chatter with a quick solution. Maybe you procrastinate and distract yourself from productivity so that you don’t have to look at your feelings of overwhelm. Maybe you work frantically to accomplish as many things as possible so that you can feel a sense of temporarily relief with each accomplishment. Perhaps you devour self-help information and strategies, eager to find the quick fix.
THE BOTTOM LINE IS THIS—your productivity, procrastination, avoidance, or self- help strategy will only provide a short-lived sense of enoughness. It’s a Band-Aid on a broken leg. It’s not going to give you the long-term relief and fulfillment you so desperately crave.
WHAT YOU NEED MOST IS TO UNDERSTAND THAT YOUR MIND IS THE CULPRIT AND SHIFTING YOUR MIND IS THE SOLUTION.
The constant sense of overwhelm is coming from your not enoughness mind monster. But there are ways to start to tame it.
1. Start by recognizing that your mind is creating life expectations that are setting you up to feel shitty on the regular.
Doing things perfectly. Not failing. Escaping judgement. These are expectations that defy the laws of humanity. They aren’t real. Name it for what it is. This is my mind monster expecting me to be superhuman. I am not superhuman. I am human.
2. Practice doing things that you suck at.
Yep. Suck on purpose. That desire to perform perfectly is strong for many women. Particularly in careers that hold little space for vulnerability. Your mind needs to be reminded that it can, in fact, survive through perceived failure and judgment. Take a dance class that you know you will suck at. Go to the wine painting party and embrace your less than perfect art piece. Jump onto a karaoke stage. Anything. If you are afraid to try it because you know that you won’t be any good at it, you have your golden practice activity.
3. Consciously shift your self-talk.
When you suffer from perfectionism, fear of judgment, fear of failure and chronic comparison, your self-talk likely sounds like a drill sergeant off of her anger- management pills. Despite being ambitious, smart, successful and competent, you tell yourself it’s not enough. Your mind is constantly pushing you to do more, be more, learn more, succeed more...You have a hypercritical mind monster.
She needs you to view her like a toddler having a tantrum, then gently shift the message back to self-encouragement. Practice looking for the ways you are doing great. Practice telling yourself that you are enough. Practice speaking to yourself the way you would speak to your best friend. I love you, you are doing great, and don’t be so hard on yourself.
Certainly some good old fashion time management tips are great if your real issue is a lack of knowledge around how to productively utilize your time. However, in my experience as a career coach and human, I find that MANY women are suffering not because they don’t know HOW to utilize their time, but because they don’t know HOW to tame their mind.
You are enough. You can handle both failure and judgment. You don’t have to be a superhuman. Be a human instead, and not only will your overwhelm ease, but you will slowly be able to feel the joy of a beautifully imperfect life.