Sep 29, 2022 | Your Business, Your Self
3 Practices When Feeling Overwhelmed as an Empath
I don’t know about you, but I cannot believe today is the last day of the month! Has September flown by for anyone else? 🤷♀️
Perhaps it’s due to the fact that I’m getting married two weeks from tomorrow 🎉💕 or the massive undertaking of relaunching the Unbounded Potential™ brand next month…
…but I’ve been feeling overwhelmed.
So, today I thought I’d share a bit of the behind the scenes of what I do when I’m feeling under water in case you can relate.
Many years ago, I was on a call with my coach and was feeling incredibly overwhelmed. Honestly, I just really wanted to be a cry baby about it and was looking for someone to validate how justified I was to feel this way. (Anyone else have a PENCHANT for taking on multiple massive projects simultaneously?) 🙋♀️
Anyways, he didn’t take the bait.
And not only did he not take the bait, but he both infuriated and enlightened me with his reply.
“Overwhelm is a choice, Cat, ” he responded. “It’s a feeling. And you get to feel your feelings without being owned by them.”
I know, it sounds oversimplified. And gosh, was it the opposite of what I wanted to hear at that moment…
But this reminder has helped me incredibly over the years.
Because for all the empaths in the room, I’m sure you can relate when I say that we feel our feelings STRONGLY. So much so, that oftentimes, we get swept up by them or we can relate to them as fact.
When in reality, our feelings are temporary. They are not the truth of who we are or our reality. And most importantly, we’re not only solely responsible for them but we are also responsible for changing them and not allowing them to define us.
Personally speaking, I allowed my feelings to define my life for years. I also allowed myself to be victimized by them. On that day, when my coach didn’t take the bait, it changed the trajectory of how I’ve related to overwhelm ever since.
Now, I’m going to be honest with you. I’m still human and have my moments of overwhelm and feeling completely powerless about it. The difference is that these days, I take that feeling to heart as a signal that I need to offer myself some loving kindness and compassion.
If today’s post is resonating, then I’m super excited to share the following 3 practices to help you do just that:
Venting as a tool
Our feelings are meant to be emoted and expressed. It’s honestly one of the qualities that I most appreciate in children. I don’t know about you, but the children in my life are such great teachers for me. They have tantrums, cry big tears, get loud and stomp their feet, pout in the corner, and then the next minute they’re laughing and wanting to play.
In adulthood, I think this is what venting is for! But we need to be responsible for it. I still have my moments of spewing on my partner, making it about him or his fault. I’m incredibly overwhelmed and likely need to share and communicate with him all that I’m stressed about.
And this is some yoda-esque relationship advice here, so listen up. When we are responsible for our overwhelm and we can communicate to our partners, “Hey babe, I’m just feeling incredibly overwhelmed right now and need to vent, OK?” That’s the perfect signaling for our partners and loved ones to be able to listen empathetically and provide the reassurance and care that we need rather than jumping in to fix our stress bubble and overwhelm because they’re feeling like they did something wrong.
Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, practice sharing with a trusted partner, “I’m feeling incredibly overwhelmed right now and need to vent. Do you have some space and time for me to share?”
And if you’re a kinesthetic learner, practice journaling the response to “What am I feeling overwhelmed about in this moment?”
Having a healthy sense of humor about overwhelm
Will you laugh with me for a moment about this? I’m tying the knot with my partner of seven years in two weeks. I’m unveiling the biggest relaunch of the Unbounded Potential™ brand since our inception in 2014 (with a lot of changes and new product suite offerings) in one month, a process that’s been underway for seven months. Oh, and I have a thriving business to run, AMAZING clients to support AND my hubbie-to-be and I are in the process of selling our home.
I could have taken on any one of these projects at one time, but me? Oh you know, I decided it was the best decision to say yes to all of them simultaneously. Pretty funny, right?
Geesh! Honestly, I’m laughing at myself as I type this because the truth of the matter is I thrive under pressure. I also typically create in fits and bursts. Just like the weather, I tend to have seasons in my business, seasons of reflection and seasons of big energy and bringing ideas to life. This is just that season for me. When I remind myself that business and life does not always feel this way, it helps embrace the season that I’m in.
Consider asking yourself, “What’s this season of business and life teaching you”
Leveraging overwhelm as a signal
Here’s the thing, when I feel overwhelmed, it’s typically a sign of a growth edge. As someone who enjoys the state of feeling in self-control, I now recognize when I’m feeling overwhelmed it’s because I’m in CREATION-MODE. Overwhelm is a sign that I’m doing something new and different, therefore outside of my comfort zone. Yay! Naturally, I would feel a sense of discomfort and dis-ease by stepping outside the realm of what is known, familiar and cozy-comfortable.
This last piece is super important, so listen up. When we allow overwhelm to take over, it can literally manifest itself as dis-ease aka disease in our bodies. I know, for me, I used to get countless sinus infections. One year, I was sent home from work for three weeks with bronchitis, when I was working full-time and getting my MBA simultaneously in the Dominican Republic.
These days, I literally remind myself that feeling overwhelmed is a GOOD thing. “I’m uncomfortable, woohoo. I must be creating epic new things!” It’s not to say, I don’t take it easier on myself or prioritize extra self-care, I absolutely do. I just don’t let overwhelm outsmart me anymore.
Consider asking yourself, “What is my overwhelm signaling for me here?”
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Catherine is a Master Certified Coach and bestselling author of Belonging: Overcome Your Inner Critic and Reclaim Your Joy.
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Empathy for Change with Amy J. Wilson
I am so delighted and thrilled to have my esteemed friend, Amy J. Wilson here with us today. Amy is a change leader, community builder, movement maker, and an empathy advocate. She is the author of Empathy for Change: How to Build a More Understanding World, a guide to create positive, compassionate change where we work, live, and play. All of this guides our conversation as we cover the different types of empathy and why they are important, dismantling current power structures and rebuilding them with empathy at the core, prioritizing rest, and so much more. Being empathetic does not mean you lack power, and this episode is going to tell you why – enjoy!
Visit this episode’s show notes page here.