Overwhelmed? Help is on the Way!

HandAlthough you vowed that this year would be different and charged into 2016 with the best of intentions to take control of your life, you’re right back where you were before the holidays. Overwhelmed. Overworked. Overscheduled. Most days you dread going to work because you just don’t see yourself making any progress. If one more perky person smiles and says “It is what it is,” you’re going to scream.

The feeling of overwhelm is a common state of mind that looks like it’s coming completely from our circumstances. To make matters worse, conventional wisdom reinforces the misunderstanding about the source of our emotions. The “experts” say overwhelm is the result of relationship problems, career demands, financial difficulties, life transitions, and so on.

When it looks like you’re drowning beneath a huge wave of conflicting priorities and unrealistic expectations, it’s hard to make decisions and move forward. You’re stuck. The more you think about how much you have to do, the less you get done. It’s a vicious circle. Here’s how to stop the madness:

First, realize that your feelings are coming from your thinking 100% of the time. No person or circumstance can ever make you feel anything. Sometimes you see it and sometimes you don’t. But it’s always true; it’s just how the human mind works. When you’re telling friends about your best vacation ever, I’ll guarantee you’re not feeling stressed and overwhelmed, no matter how many emails are in your inbox. Being open to this possibility will pave the way for insights, the fresh thinking that spontaneously emerges when our minds are free and clear.

Second, have faith in your innate wisdom and potential for insights. You’ve been having new thinking and seeing different perspectives and alternatives your entire life. The capability has always been there, but the more you know the less you’re open to seeing something new. Then you’re stuck with what you have, so to speak, and it makes sense try to find a new time management tool, get better at multi-tasking, and when all else fails, complain about the inefficiencies of senior management. You churn and grind away, clogging up your mental pipeline and stopping the natural flow of thought.

Just like a 3-year old in the time out chair, your mind will automatically settle down when you stop focusing on external circumstances as the source of your frustration. From a state of focus and mental clarity, you’ll be able to make decisions and move forward. Your wisdom and common sense will guide you in the right direction.

So the next time you want to scream like a toddler, put yourself in the time out chair and see what happens.

If you want to hear more on this topic, join me in my Supermind -sponsored webinar on February 29th. http://threeprinciplessupermind.com/Events/cheryl-bond-04.886/

Happy Friday!

    30524810_s Why is it that the work and relationships that plagued you all week look so different on Friday afternoon?  The issues and challenges haven’t changed, but somehow you don’t get so riled up about it on Friday.  You’re in a great mood, looking forward to a weekend with your family, maybe doing some gardening or camping.

     Sometimes you notice that Friday afternoons are incredibly productive.  You make decisions and cross tasks off your to-do list.  You don’t get caught in loops of overthinking.  You make the phone calls you’ve been putting off all week and they go far better than you expected.  You feel energized and confident.  During the weekend, thoughts about the week ahead or the past week drift through your consciousness, but you don’t dwell on them.  It’s easy to let them go and get back to the present moment.

     Now fast forward to Sunday night.  The Friday afternoon feeling is long gone.  You’re feeling anxious and pre-occupied.  You might even have trouble sleeping.  Nothing has changed from Friday afternoon to Sunday night in terms of your workload or the people you need to influence and manage.  Yet your mood shifted.  Back to reality – or so you think.

     Here’s another scenario.  It’s Friday afternoon, and you’re tired and frustrated.  In your mind, the week didn’t go well and you didn’t accomplish all you set out to do.  You have a conversation with your boss that turns into an argument.  What happened to Happy Friday?  You stew about it all weekend long.  You try to put it out of your mind but you keep replaying the tape and beating yourself up for how you handled it.

Confusing?  Sound familiar?  Welcome to the Human Race!

   The only way to make sense of these ups and downs is to realize that your mind is always creating your experience of life in the moment through thought from the inside-out.  Regardless of the circumstances, the only thing you are ever feeling is the feedback of your thinking.  Thoughts are always flowing through your mind — sometimes you pay attention to them and sometimes you don’t.  

     You didn’t do anything different or magical that productive Friday afternoon – that’s how the mind works in its natural clear and present state.  OK, so what happened on the other Friday, when it got ugly with your boss?  You were tired and in a low mood, you felt like a failure, and it looked like your circumstances, boss included, were to blame.  From that state of mind, of course it didn’t go well.  And I’m willing to bet that a little voice in the back of your mind was trying to tell you to back off, but you didn’t listen.

     So what’s the takeaway?  Life is always an inside-out experience — the day of the week has nothing to do with your state of mind.  It’s another misunderstanding that we’ve adopted as truth.  What is true is that the human mind is designed for success – it will always give us what we need in the moment.  Wisdom and common sense are built in to every one of us.    

The Truth About Expectations

ExpectationsIt seems everyone is talking about expectations lately.  In the June issue of Oprah’s magazine, Brene Brown counsels us to “reality-check our expectations because they can lead to low self-esteem.” Cheryl Sandberg tells women to lean in to the leadership table and “dismantle the internal barriers holding us back today.”  A number of executive coaches weigh in on LinkedIn to the question:  What do you think holds you back from more happiness and success in your career?  Of course, expectations are a topic in the ensuing dialog.

 There is only one thing to understand about expectations – they are all made from the same stuff — thought.  Our expectations for ourselves and others’ expectations for us are only as real and as powerful as we make them.  We put energy into them or we don’t.  We pay attention to them or we ignore them.  We see them for what they are or we don’t.  With understanding, we see them for what they are more quickly.

 I recently heard that some languages don’t have a word for “should,” usually a key component in any expectation.  The internal version — I should weigh this much, I should make x amount of money, I should have been promoted by now, I should be treated one way or another.  And the external version – you should, they should, mothers should, children should.

 Having a discussion about the content of expectations is not the answer.  It’s not what you think, it’s the realization that you think.  It’s becoming more conscious of the fact that:

We create our experience of life through our thinking. 

We live in the perceptions and feelings that we create.  

We have an unlimited potential for new thought.

       So the only thing that keeps us stuck is the misunderstanding that we have no other options.  When we realize we have free will to recognize, consider, and let go of any expectations (thought) that are not helpful, we see the unlimited potential that is always available to us.  

 

 

Simple Insight — Lasting Impact

doorMore than a decade ago, I was part of a team that taught the 3 Principles to hundreds of people at a large defense and security company.  We called it State of Mind (SOM) training because it made sense to people that at any given time, their SOM was either helping them or getting in the way.  It followed that learning more about SOM would be beneficial.  A particularly skeptical senior leader asked “Why do such intelligent and hard-working people make so many (expletive deleted) mistakes?!”  Even he could see that people who were anxious, agitated, and fearful would make costly mistakes.

 Although the understanding had been taught as Health Realization in the mental health community for a while, business was the new frontier.  It was a significant challenge to point people towards an awareness that transcended intellect and encouraged reflection in a culture where being smart and working hard were seen as the path to success.  They wanted new “tools” to add to their competency toolbox and tips and techniques to follow like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  Looking back, there are certainly things we should have done differently, lessons learned that have improved our ability to teach today.  However, imperfect as it may have been, many people had insights that changed their lives.

 Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to some of the people we trained way back when, and I was struck by how much of a difference one extremely simple insight made in people lives.  Here’s what they heard:

 When I’m not in a good state of mind, I need to step back and give myself a chance to clear my head, to get some new thinking.

 I know, I know, it’s far from perfect.  It sounds like something to do.  It’s making value judgments about thinking, maybe getting people thinking about their thinking.  It made me smile when people got nervous explaining what they heard and what stayed with them through the years.  They’d say, “I know this isn’t right. But this is what made sense to me.”  What really made me smile was what they said after that:

 –   As a working Mom with a husband who traveled a lot, it helped me notice when I was being impatient with my son getting ready for school.  I was able to see that it was my thinking, not what he was doing, that was frustrating me.  I saw a choice between starting our day on a good note or not.

–   I had faith in my resilience in the face of some pretty extreme business events, including our building being wiped out in a flood.  I knew I had a choice to get focused in the moment and do what needed to be done rather than get caught up and overwhelmed.

–   I gave myself permission to work on one task at a time.  I stopped multi-tasking and over thinking everything.  I’m productive and confident. 

–   It takes a lot less energy to get a better result.  I was always a hard worker and got it done, but my clarity of thinking is so much better I can get those same results with a whole lot less energy.

People also admitted that they could still go down a rat hole of thinking and feeling that wasn’t helpful.  But they didn’t get stuck there. Life got a little easier.

I remember taking time in the early days to set the stage for insight-based learning, asking the class to trust our different approach.  We promised that if they hung in there with us, they would see something new for themselves that would stick with them.   They did.