For accessibility and ease, you can listen to this post narrated by Mike:
I’m really an easily overwhelmed person.
By my nature, I’m easily stressed and overwhelmed. I always have been.
I’m sensitive. I sense more. And there’s an infinite onslaught of information, to-do lists, and other people’s demands coming at me all day long. So I tend to be pretty overwhelmed.
Years ago, I used to let that overwhelm stop me from doing the things I wanted to do in the world.
I’d tell myself that I was “too sensitive” for certain projects or ways of being in the world. Or I’d couch it in more “empowering” language and tell myself that this was necessary “self-care.” That this is what self-love looks like.
Don’t get me wrong—self-care is absolutely critical. But it’s always been a great excuse to avoid what I’ve been overwhelmed by in my life.
I’ve had to learn that subtle distinction between pushing and hustling because we don’t feel good enough, and being pulled toward a vision even when we’re scared. Because it’s really easy to deceive ourselves about which side we’re on.
And don’t mistake me—when I take big action these days, you can pretty much always assume I’m completely overwhelmed. Every time we start a new work project or launch a new program, or even when I wake up and just look at my to-do list.
The overwhelm never lessens. But the paralysis inhibiting me from taking action on it does.
We visionaries are sensitives. It comes with the territory. That curse that sends us into intense emotional overwhelm is the same blessing that allows us to read between the lines, to hear what someone’s not saying, and to see patterns where others cannot.
That sensitivity is our genius. It’s our magic. And it’s also what makes us constantly overwhelmed.
In my experience, the greatest gift we can give ourselves is accepting that. That it’s not wrong or bad or fucked up. And we don’t have to change it at all. In fact, we can’t change it. No matter how much we try. No matter how much we avoid what we’re afraid of as an act of “self-care.” We very well might still be overwhelmed the next time.
Once we can accept that, then we can work with it. Because it’s not that we need to be less overwhelmed with life. We just need to get really practiced at moving forward anyway and getting support along the way.
Mastery always takes practice. To master anything is to continuously devote ourselves to it time and time again, even—and especially—when it’s hard.
Muscles that are unused begin to deteriorate. And the more often we tell ourselves that we’re “too overwhelmed” to go after our dreams, the less toned those “building our dreams” muscles are going to be.
And we don’t have to start building those muscles by lifting the heaviest weights from the start. In fact, if anything, that’s the fastest way to debilitate ourselves.
But we all do that, don’t we? We’re all-or-nothing people. We tend to want to make the big, bold gestures immediately. We don’t just start running around the block; we push ourselves for three miles. And we don’t start with a beta program; we go for the big, splashy launch. And we don’t test out our new ideas in a few blog posts; we immediately start writing an entire book.
And we usually make it a little while lifting those giant weights. Until we burn out after a few weeks or months. And convince ourselves again that we’re just “too overwhelmed” and “too sensitive” to really do this.
After years of berating myself for being “too overwhelmed” all the time, I finally started practicing. In small, tiny ways. Keeping the stakes so low that my overwhelm hardly registered them. Like writing a blog post on a new topic. If it bombed, oh well. I’d just write a new one tomorrow and scrap that idea.
But, if it felt good, then maybe I’d talk about it on the Friday Faire live. If it bombed there, still not a big deal. But the stakes were just a tad bit higher, since that’s weekly instead of daily.
And, if it still felt good, then maybe it’d show up in conversations with people who knew the work at the Mastermind level. And then newer people at the Circle level. And then maybe I’d end up creating some more formal writing about it—like a guest post. Or maybe I’d even create an offering.
The whole time, I was just building my muscle. So subtly. Working with my overwhelm. Knowing that I’d burn myself out if I went for the biggest weights in the room. So I slowly, incrementally built my way up.
And it’s not just business I get overwhelmed about. Oh, I get overwhelmed about everything. Like cleaning the house. Or fitting plans into our schedule. Or getting to read all the books on my list.
There’s no shortage of things for me to be overwhelmed about. But the principle’s the same in every situation. I just choose something maybe a tiny bit outside my comfort zone. That I’m only a little overwhelmed by. Increasing even just 1% each day.
It’s one goddamn percent. I can do that. That feels doable. And I’ll be over 37x ahead of where I am today in a year from now. 37x! Off tiny, incremental growth.
I know myself, and overwhelm has always been a constant in my life—as it has for many visionaries I know. But this kind of subtle exposure therapy allows us to pretty easily do what we want while honoring that overwhelm.
I’ve pushed myself way out there and lasted a few good months, even. Only to be an emotional wreck who’s actually more overwhelmed going forward. Because I’m subtly sending myself that message that if I can’t build my dreams in a day (or a few months), then I must be “too sensitive.”
It doesn’t need to be all-or-nothing. It doesn’t need to be “push ourselves or check out and take a self-care day.” It can be subtle little acts of devotion. That aren’t all that exciting or glamorous.
Like writing every day. Or telling one person your dreams every day. Or doing five pushups. Or reaching out to one hero. Or filming one video.
The key to working with overwhelm is always consistency. Practice.
It’s far more powerful to do something small 1,000 times than to do something giant once.
Being sensitive isn’t your handicap. It’s your superpower. And all you need is practice taking tiny steps to share that sensitivity with the world.
Questions for Reflection:
*Answer in a journal, in the comments right here, or take it over to the Sacred Branding® Facebook group where we can support one another:
Are you easily overwhelmed?
— Do you get overwhelmed a lot? Do you feel like you’re “too sensitive” to do certain activities to share your vision? Have you tried to take big action on your vision, only to feel burnt out and like a failure?
— Have you ever started a new project or routine and given up on it within a few weeks or months because you were overwhelmed? Do you put a lot of pressure on yourself and how others might react to this new endeavor?
— What if, as a visionary, you’re sensitive, and overwhelm is a part of that sensitivity? What if you don’t have to “overcome it” so much as just work with it? What if you chose to take one tiny step continuously every day for the next year—and that’s how you’ll share your vision with the world?