Overwhelm is optional (really!)

Overwhelm is optional—really

If a surfer riding the crest of a wave obsesses about the last six waves or the next six waves, she’s certain to wipe out.

Yet human beings do this all the time when we (yes, me too!) innocently generate overwhelm.

The illusion of overwhelm

Most of us live in the illusion that overwhelm comes from overwhelming circumstances. We think that our jammed mental circuits, tight shoulders, irritability, and confusion are inevitable and natural consequences of the situations we face.

But that’s just not so.

Overwhelm comes to us courtesy of thought, not the world

Overwhelm is the product of overwhelming thought, not overwhelming circumstances.

Consider surfing.

If overwhelm were the natural byproduct of circumstances, every surfer would be utterly and completely freaked out by the ocean all the time.

I mean really, what’s more freaking overwhelming than the ocean and wind?

Successful surfers only focus on one wave at a time

A surfer who succeeds isn’t thinking about yesterday’s waves or tomorrow’s weather. She succeeds and improves to the extent that she pays attention right here, right now, and allows herself to be educated by the experience.

The surfer who stays in the moment learns naturally and organically on multiple levels as she gains experience. If she overanalyzes that experience, she’s going to gum up the works, stop learning, and perform poorly. (In golf this is known as the yips.)

Overwhelm arises from using the small personal mind to do a job it isn’t designed to do

Overwhelm arises when we try to think our way through situations that we are designed to live our way through.

When we live in the moment, life educates us in exactly the ways we require to meet whatever life is serving up. Like babies learning to walk and talk, life invites us to whole body, whole mind, whole spirit learning.

So long as we come back to the wave we are on right now.

Talk back

Play with this. Reflect on your experience. Where do you notice you or someone around you learning and growing organically? And where do you see you or someone else gum up the works by trying too hard or getting hung up on the past or the future? Play with the possibility that you are designed to do life with less mental effort than you may think.

Let me know what you notice in the comments at the bottom of this page, or email me.

Check out The Art of Living

How would it be to really see that you are perfectly designed to do life? If that sounds good, check out The Art of Living. It’s starts November 9, and three of 12 places are already spoken for.

The Secret to Finding Your Own Answers

We’ve often been told to look within for answers, but sometimes the way we look obscures what we are looking for. When we clutter our minds with expectations, pressure, worry, and preconceptions about the answers we think we need, we lose contact with the wisdom that will always deliver exactly what we truly need. The key is to settle down enough to perceive and follow the guidance that is there.

You can settle down even when time is short

I received this comment on YouTube In response to last week’s video, Settling Down Comes Naturally.

This feels so true, Molly. It’s so hard to do when  you have important decisions to make with a time limit, when you feel your options are limited and you’re not liking any of them. Wish there was a button I could press to settle myself down!

This week’s video acknowledges how it can feel hard to settle down in urgent situations, but in fact, urgency does not need to ramp us up. When we see that being ramped up is a function of our thinking about the situation, not the situation itself, we recover the capacity to see clearly and act from a settled down place even when there are only seconds in which to make a life or death decision.

Settling down comes naturally

A key to effective action is to be settled down rather than reactive. The great things is that settling down happens naturally. It begins as soon as we recognize that we have gotten ramped up. When we notice that and stay out of the way, we naturally begin to settle. Just as children forget about their tantrums within minutes, we can allow our moods to pass.

Cultivating fear won’t create safety

In the wake of the election, I see many well-intentioned people fomenting fear as a strategy for making themselves and others safe. A state of chronic fear depletes us mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Fear is not sustainable, and fomenting it won’t make us safe. As we look around us, fear may arise, but let’s not fuel it. We don’t need to feed fear to be safe. We need to be awake, tell the truth, and love each other.

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