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What if overwhelm is optional?

Winning a large contract or speaking engagement is supposed to feel good, right? But in the past, instead of feeling good, I would feel overwhelmed.

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Winning a large contract or speaking engagement is supposed to feel good, right? But in the past, instead of feeling good, I would feel overwhelmed. About all the things I had to do, all the things that could go wrong, and wondering if I was good enough. 

Overwhelm almost always arises whenever something changes in our business or our life, even if the changes are for the better. The feeling of overwhelm just means we’ve reached the threshold of what we’ve handled before, and we’re focusing on potential negative outcomes. Like not getting it all done or getting it all done right

I remember once hiring the most talented person in my industry and feeling completely overwhelmed by the number of questions they asked and the changes they want to make. “I’m not a good leader,” I thought.

The truth is, the more we grow our business, the more decisions we make, and the more overwhelmed we may feel. You might even find yourself justifying your thought, “Of course I’m overwhelmed. Look at how much is on the line and all the things I have to do!” 

Nothing’s gone wrong.
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed when you don’t yet have evidence that you’ll succeed at something new. And here’s the bad news – you won’t have that evidence whenever you’re reaching for a new level of success.

The primitive part of your brain responsible for your survival kicks in and creates a lot of fearful thoughts that make you feel worried or afraid. Your brain does this so that you’ll essentially go back into the cave where it is “safe.” That’s all that’s happening.  Your mind slips into negative thoughts that lead to the feeling of overwhelm so that you will stop changing. 

The good news is that feeling overwhelmed is not inevitable because external circumstances or events do not cause it. Your thoughts cause it. We know this is true because we each have different thoughts about how much change and growth cause overwhelm. Oprah Winfrey and Elon Musk have very high thresholds for how much change they can handle. They simply have different thoughts about what change means. Overwhelm is optional, even if it doesn’t seem that way. 

Here’s the secret: there are only two reasons you feel overwhelmed:  

  1. You´re not aware of what you’re thinking and how those thoughts create the feeling of overwhelm.
  2. You think your thoughts about being overwhelmed are facts. 

It’s always one of these two reasons. This is the best news ever because once you realize your thoughts are creating overwhelm, you can change your focus and choose thoughts that create feelings of confidence and clarity. 

Make confirmation bias work FOR you.

Confirmation bias is your brain’s way of creating shortcuts so it can process all the input coming at it from the world. The brain looks for evidence to support what it believes, and deletes and distorts the rest. In other words, the brain uses the lens of your beliefs to interpret and make sense of the world.

If we believe something will be hard in our business, or there is not enough time, or we don’t have the resources, the feeling of overwhelm will arise. And because the brain will keep serving up evidence to reinforce those beliefs, it may seem inescapable.

But feeling overwhelmed is a choice. A choice we make unconsciously because we don’t realize our thoughts create it. When we use confirmation bias to our advantage, we intentionally choose to believe thoughts that SERVE us.

Beliefs are just thoughts you think are true. When you create beliefs that work in your favor, like, “I always figure things out” and “I’m growing as a person and an entrepreneur,” and even “I love my business,” – then your brain will start looking for evidence to support these beliefs. Overwhelm will be replaced by confidence and clarity. 

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