Let's face it, life can sometimes throw us curveballs.
Ok, let's substitute 'sometimes' for 'often'.
It can leave us feeling utterly bewildered, baffled about what to do next - or maybe bereft that things haven't worked out as we'd hoped.
And when we find ourselves at the mercy of circumstances, it can be really hard to know what to do for the best.
In today's podcast, I'll walk you three choices we have in every situation. Take a listen here.
Take the past couple of years, for example - a pandemic, global unrest, economic turmoil and, if you live in the UK, Brexit and political pandemonium to contend with, too.
Not a brilliant backdrop for building a business - or living a low-stress life. To our poor, already overloaded brains this has been major. Traumatic (literally). It's sent our stress-levels soaring, our collective anxiety skyrocketing, and for many of us our radar firmly tuned to 'Whatever is going to happen next?'.
It hasn't been easy. And it's left many people feeling paralysed - unable to make clear decisions about their choices, worried about getting it wrong, and left in a kind of limbo land of doubt and indecision.
The trouble is, psychologically speaking, when we feel like we're in limbo and feel powerless over our situation, we lose our sense of control. And unfortunately, that does nothing to calm the stress and trauma - in fact it adds to it.
The more stress and trauma we have in the equation - the harder it becomes to make logical, rational decisions - and the harder it becomes to find our way forward when the metaphorical sh*t hits the fan (again).
Is feeling overwhelmed a symptom of anxiety?
In a word, yes! Feelings of overwhelm or stuckness happen when our fight, flight or freeze response kicks in, thanks to too much on our mental plate, cutting off the rational thought processes and intuitive 'gut feelings' that guide us to a decision.
We don't have to feel anxious to feel stuck - but the two usually go hand in hand - and feeling overwhelmed can be an early telltale sign that stress levels are rising beyond a helpful level.
So how do you stop feeling like you're stuck?
Once our fight, flight primitive response has started to kick in it can be difficult to step out of the situation and get perspective - because unfortunately it also tends to drive us to worry and obsess about the problems we're experiencing.
To stop feeling like you're stuck you need to reduce your anxiety levels and establish a sense of control - here are 10 tips to help you reduce anxiety in the moment you can use for a quick fix on the go (although longer-term, you might want to consider other ways to reduce your stress and reclaim control - or consider working with an overwhelm and anxiety expert like me) .
But it can also be empowering and helpful to know that if you strip it back to basics, in every situation, we have 3 choices. Two of them will help you move forward with clarity, confidence and reduced anxiety.
The 3 choices of overwhelm
3 choices? But only 2 of them will help? That's right. The first choice, when were feeling anxious, indecisive and stuck, is to do nothing. It may not feel like a choice - we may feel as though doing anything else is risky and difficult. And this is because when we're feeling stuck and our brain is in anxiety mode, it likes to tell us that everything we do (other than staying stuck) has the potential for disaster.
You know those narratives - 'What if..?' and 'I can't, because...' - they are the voice of our primitive, emotional mind, persuading us to stay stuck. And boy, can they be persuasive!
Recognising that, though, can be the first step to realising that we DO have a choice - to listen to them and stay stuck and stressed, or to choose a better path.
So the obvious other choice is to decide to take action and do something different.
That need not drastic - it need not be much at all - and it doesn't even need to be action that solves the whole problem! Often, a small, simple action that gets the ball rolling and opens doors is enough to help us regain a sense of control, reduce anxiety and start to get our groove back.
What if there is no obvious action that can be taken? Or what if doing nothing genuinely does seem to be the only realistic option - at least for now (often this can be the case with tricky relationships, business and career choices).
Well - believe it or not you still have a choice, albeit an emotional rather than physical one. You can either continue to allow the situation to cause you stress and worry... or you can decide to opt out of stress through the power of acceptance.
Now this isn't always easy, and we often worry that by doing nothing, or 'just lying down and taking it' we're being weak.
On the contrary. A mind that can choose to accept difficult or challenging circumstances, or cope with difficult people and allow the emotional load to bounce off - a mind that makes a decision to not let those struggles weigh them down - that's a mind which has enormous strength and power.
Because a mind that can choose to accept, carry on and keep living day by day whatever happens - that's a mind that's free. And a mind that's free has the power to create whatever it chooses - when the time is right.
So next time you're feeling stressed, overwhelmed or stuck, try asking: "Does this need to weigh me down?".
You might just find you really, really like the answer 💛
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