Clearing the Path out of Overwhelm

photo of blonde woman with young girl on her lap and older child next to her while working on laptop

The word I have been hearing most recently from clients is overwhelmed. It’s almost as if we can deal with life’s big stressors but it’s the constant little stressors, mixed with small tasks that swirl around in our minds, that make us feel we are going mad. Some clients tell me, “I know I need to leave my job, but I have no time to apply for a new job.” Or they say, “I’m a teacher and I am home for the summer but now I am overwhelmed with bills and unfinished house projects.” Or a client says, “I got a promotion but I don’t understand my new job.” It could be just a general overwhelmed feeling at work or an overwhelmed feeling planning the kids’ summer schedules: little kids, kids home from college, you name it, everyone describes it as being overwhelmed.

So what can we do? I help clients with a simple exercise where we draw a plate and write down all the things that are on it; then I hand my clients an eraser and ask them what needs to come off. If they can’t take anything off the plate, we talk about how to validate all that is on their plate and how we can best organize the information. The goal is to turn feeling like a wet soggy plate into beautiful china and make sure there is enough space on the plate to see the pretty pattern. I had a book sitting on the table called, Lagom by Niki Brantmark and everyone comments on it. The subtitle says, “Not too little, not too much … living a balanced, happy life.” They sigh and say, “that is what I need! I need to declutter, but I don’t want to be a minimalist or throw everything out.”

As my clients sigh, I acknowledge (and am even a fan of) decluttering their offices and even their homes to be more productive. Letting go of what no longer serves us to make room for what does is actually a big part of my coaching practice. When clients ask me what they can do to get a new job, I jokingly tell them to perform some “Swedish death cleaning” at their current job and trust that as they are dusting off old files, new job ideas will come. I tell my entrepreneur clients that when I need a new client, I just clean my office, and when I am just about finished the phone rings or I get an email from someone that says, “I saw your ad.” I believe that an organized space often propels the law of physics, slows us down, quiets the mind, and invites happiness to find us.

As we let go of the things we don’t use, spend less time with toxic people that don’t cheer us on, and even let go of negative thoughts that clutter our minds, we find our energy increasing and our intuition strengthening. I had one client tell me that as soon as they dropped a big pile of clothing off at goodwill, they got an idea for a new side hustle. Another said she cleared her contacts and deleted people for a month that she no longer spoke to and in doing so connected with two or three people for lunch that she aspired to be more like; she took one of them to lunch who gave her some great ideas on what types of jobs to apply for that would increase her salary. Another client said that as soon as he cleaned his garage and basement, he thought about the underlying causes of hanging on to so much stuff from his past and paid attention to why he had so many attachments to physical stuff. By letting himself “grieve,” giving away a bike he bought in high school (he is 37), he felt a surge of confidence at work and realized that letting go of his past wasn’t just giving him a clean car; it was heading him toward a promotion.

Think about the physical and mental things that feel as if they are blocking your path and imagine what would happen if you designed a life where you had not too much and not too little, and could spend your time just being the you that you were designed to be. What small step can you take today toward creating that life?

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