It’s never easy to admit to weakness or vulnerability but today I am because by doing so I am being honest, keeping it real, and by speaking my truth perhaps someone else out there in the big wide cyber-land who reads this may begin to feel that their weakness or vulnerability might not be such a bad thing after all and that right there would make it so worth my while.
Recently I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed. This happens sometimes when life gets a tad too busy for me and lately it has been. There’s been lots of demands on my time, busy’ness in every day, places to be and go, people to meet, things to be done, commitments to be met. Not enough solitude. Not enough quiet time. Activities not spaced out enough but a mass of activities in each day. Not enough time to write, think, edit, plan. Whenever something like this happens these days, I know that I need to put the brakes on and take every opportunity I can to rest and restore, hence why there was only one blog post last week. On this occasion, I’ve decided to look for the lessons and share what I’ve learned.
Regular readers of this blog would know that a few years ago I walked out of my corporate job. I had good reason to. It’s all ancient history now so I won’t go into any of the details except to say that a particular incident brought with it a realisation within me (an ‘Aha moment’ as Oprah would say). That realisation was that these people were not worthy of my time, talents or energy and even more than that was the realisation that I deserved much better, so much better! I went back to my desk, collected my handbag and I walked out, never to return.
Following that walk out, though I knew I had done the right thing for myself, I was very shaken up and I suffered what could best be described as a bit of a breakdown. There were some strong emotions that consumed me and required time to process and work through before I felt able to release them – a sense of injustice, betrayal by people I had trusted, and lots of anger. There was also the loss of my identity. Who was I now? What would I do? Who would I be? What was my purpose now? What would people think of me? What were people saying? I dwelled for quite some time on these things (and more) until eventually I was ready to let it all go. What a beautiful peaceful feeling that was when I could finally let it all go – all those toxic thoughts and emotions gone forever from my body! I felt such freedom.
There were however some fundamental changes within me as a consequence of the chronic stress and trauma I went through. I have had to accept that I will never be that same person again. I don’t mean the me that was in that corporate world, I mean the me that was able to function in that world. The me that could live a fast paced multi-tasking life. She could juggle full-time work with running a home, organising and managing the lives of her three children, being on multiple committees, going to boot camp on Saturday mornings and pilates on a Monday night whilst also keeping up with all her friends and she could do all of it with a laser sharp quick and decisive mind.
You know what though – the me I described above was always so exhausted and she wasn’t truly happy!
There is a new me now!
The new me needs a slower pace of life. The new me becomes overwhelmed and stressed more easily than the old me. The new me has a mind that needs assistance to keep on top of everything. ‘To Do’ lists help keep me on track and all appointments must be added to the calendar in my phone with reminders. Some of this could also be attributed to my 50+ year old perimenopausal brain though! 😉
I’ve recognised that a lot of my overwhelm is self-inflicted, because I set such high expectations for myself. I have a long list of expectations set for myself around blogging, photography (I feel a lot of disappointment in myself here because I have not had time to devote to my photography at all), being a mother, running a home, being a responsible pet owner, my own self care and weight loss, being a good friend, etc. The list goes on! I sometimes forget my current day limitations and set expectations that my old self would probably have met with ease.
Usually I do a pretty good job of keeping up with my blogging related expectations, so long as life doesn’t throw too much else at me that takes up my time and energy! This hasn’t been the case over the last couple of weeks. Sometimes external demands on my time (E) compete with the internal expectations I place on myself (I) and BOOM: E+I = Overwhelm!
So what I have I learnt?
- I’ve learnt that I need to be more flexible with my expectations of myself when it comes to my blog. I do strive for consistency and reliability but perhaps I should do that in a more sustainable way.
- I’ve learnt that for me E+I can = Overwhelm!
- I’ve learnt that when I get overwhelmed, my perfectionism rears its head and bogs me down further.
- I’ve learnt that I am not a recovering perfectionist at all. Though I have shaken off my perfectionist ways in most aspects of my life, I still struggle with my perfectionist expectations when it comes to my work. It slows me down and can at times make tasks seem insurmountable!
- I’ve learnt that I’ve come a long way with my self-care and self-compassion. They know when they are needed and they kick-in automatically.
- I’ve learnt that my brain functions much better when it is well rested and can be useless when not.
- I’ve learnt that this new me is far more switched on to her feelings, weaknesses, vulnerabilities and needs than the old me and that it is a much healthier way to live!
- I’ve learnt some more stuff in order to help others to look after themselves better and you’ve learnt why this is such a passion of mine these days! 😉
It’s not all bad you know! In fact I rather like this new me. She’s more soulful and reflective and softer and caring and sharing! She’s way more kind to herself! She also won’t take any shit from anyone anymore nor will she waste her time with people who don’t help fill her tank or make her feel good! She knows the importance of looking after herself and will do what is needed to be sure she does. Yes, I’m a different version of my former self now but I’m doing what I want to do and life is on my own terms now. I may be poorer in $$’s but I’m richer in Mind, Body & Spirit and that my friends is gold!
Do you get overwhelmed sometimes? Do you know how to manage it? Ever have something happen that has changed who you are?
Ciao for now,
Linking up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT
Yes- losing my mum changed me and I found it harder to take things in my stride for a long time- but less so, now. In fact, the opposite is true- I choose to stress less!
Losing your mum would certainly change anyone I think Amy. Choosing to stress less is one mighty fine choice too! 😉
Good on you for walking out on a situation that was not worth it. So many don’t have the strength or willpower to do so.
When I feel overwhelmed, sometimes it’s an hour or so to myself to get de-stressed. Even if it’s watching TV. Otherwise, I get busy and tackle the task that’s making me feel stressed and I am usually surprised by how fast it is to overcome.
Thanks Jody – if it had been 12 months earlier I wouldn’t have been able to walk out even if I wanted to. The money was vitally essential. Still need money but no longer have 3 x school fees to pay which helps! Aside from that enough was enough! Good to see you’ve got some strategies in place for when you’re feeling overwhelmed! 🙂
Big hugs for the overwhelm hon.
When I am overwhelmed (happens often) I tend to retreat and regroup. Breathing a lot helps slow things down and give me a moment to move from panic to calmer place to think. Focusing on what one thing I can/need to do helps me momentarily let go of everything else xxx
Thanks Deb – yes retreat and regroup is exactly what I do too. I also try and do a body scan meditation – helps me become more conscious of my breathing and calm myself down. xo
I like your quote at the end Min. I have also been feeling lately that I’m somehow not as competent or as on top of things as I used to be, but if that comes from a place of deciding to slow down and care for myself then it can’t be that bad. Sometimes I have to convince myself that I’m not being lazy, just less stressed. Hugs to you.
Thanks Kathy! I know what you mean about convincing yourself that you’re not being lazy just taking care of yourself so that you’re less stressed. I have that conversation with myself many times! 😉 xo
Wise, heartfelt words, Min. I can really relate as the old ‘corporate’ me feels like a lost soul to me now, even though technically I was more ‘on top of everything’ than I probably am right now. Looking back, something about that life feels very fake to me, even though I was always just myself, trying to make a go of it all.
As for the overwhelm, the answer for me has always been to adjust my own expectations. I am my own worst enemy when it comes to wanting to achieve things. I insist that I will relax when everything is done, but of course, everything is never done. I’m glad you’re putting the brakes on a little and recognising that you can’t do it all. What is ‘all’ anyway and who said we need it? x
Thank you Bron! I know what you mean about that corporate life feeling fake when you think back on it. I feel the same way. Pretending to be passionate about stuff I was working on when I wasn’t. Being friendly, smiley and staying on the good side of some co-workers / superiors, that were not really my kind of people, because it was important to my success in the job to do so. Pretending that long, boring meetings were productive when in reality they were ridiculous time wasters. I could go on – but you get what I mean! It’s interesting to read that the answer to overwhelm for you is to adjust your expectations. I need to work on that and I need to start with adjusting the frequency of my blog posts and my expectations around that balanced with having a consistent and reliable blogging rhythm. I know I can’t do it all – at least not all at the same time anyway! lol 😉 x
Yes, I am kind of living that reality too. Being able to shift back a few gears has made a tremendous difference to the quality of life of everyone in our family. The biggest step for us was to decide to drop out of the Sydney rat race and make a tree change.
I must confess that I do envy your tree change just a tad. I’ve been wanting to get out of suburbia for quite some time now. The biggest change ever for me so far is leaving that corporate life. I was in that life from the age of 17! xo
I place a lot of unrealistic expectations on myself and get overwhelmed. I know this and I know I need to change it but it is far easier said than done.
It sure is far easier said than done – hence I’m still here setting very high expectations for myself even though that can sometimes be my undoing! If or when I work it out – I’ll share! 😉
Overwhelm is a squishier of dreams. I find my overwhelm in a cycle. As I speed up the overwhelm grows and grows until I explode and hide. Good on you for recognising the problem though. That is the first step that can help you find a resolution.
Yep you explained it well! The key is in setting more realistic expectations on ourselves so that when life throws us busy stuff, the combination of trying to meet both perfectly doesn’t cause us to we implode and then hide away until we are ready to get back to it again. It’s good to want to do well but we need to have some flexibility in there for busier times and be sure that our expectations are actually sustainable! It’s tricky! 😉
Yes, I get overwhelmed. Mostly because there are so many things that ‘need’ to be done, and it frustrates me that they conflict with what I would like to be done!
But as you sai, it’s about adjusting your expectations, and giving yourself a break. Goals are good, but not at the expense of your mental health.
Ahhh yes – the NEED to be done stuff versus the WANT to do stuff. I know what you mean – for example I WANT to travel to different places and take photos to help build up my photography portfolio, I want to sit and write for hours, I want to finish editing all my photo’s from Tasmania, I want to start working on a photography website, I want to do further study. I NEED to do the laundry, clean the house, cook meals, walk the dogs, etc etc etc. Yes – it’s about adjusting our expectations to be sustainable and allowing some flexibility in there for the busier times! x
I’ve been doing a lot of ‘un-becoming’ too since leaving my academic career. Admittedly I’ve had some ‘becoming’ as well due to my new studies and career direction, but I think it was the shedding of habits and attitudes that I didn’t need that were the biggest difference. I can’t say that the process is finished yet though, but I’m much happier with who I am now.
Fantastic to hear you’re much happier with who you are now Glenda after un-becoming and becoming! lol I’ve been un-becoming since I left my corporate career and becoming as I’ve looked inside myself to work out who I truly am and what I want and like to do. There’s also been some photography studies thrown in and ongoing self-education in the blogging world. The process isn’t finished yet for me either. In fact, I think it might be a life-time process! 🙂
Such a great post to read Min. It resonated with my and your wisdom is exactly what I needed to read at this time in my life. Thank you. xx
I’m glad it resonated Bec. See you in just over a week! xo