Monday, November 1, 2010

How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed: Part 1

 Many of us scrape through life drained and exhausted. We can barely manage our to-do lists, no less find time for creativity or following passions. One way to free up some energy and end that overwhelmed feeling is to clear up your “tolerations.” Tolerations are those things you put up with—things that can be so subtle that you don’t even notice them any more. I usually ask new clients to make a list of the top 10 things they’re tolerating right off the bat, and typically, after they give it some thought, the list spills off the page. Once you start noticing the little things you’re putting up with, you’ll probably notice all sorts of other things, too.

A sticky computer key might be a toleration for you, or a cluttered desk, or a friend who keeps “forgetting” not to call you at work. Maybe it’s the tea that your favorite café serves too hot every time you order it, or your own messy hair in need of a trim, or the neighbor’s dog that does his business on your lawn, or your mother’s habit of interrupting you mid-sentence. Maybe it’s the client who always pays late, or the crooked picture on the wall, or the un-filed papers, or the science projects in the fridge.

The thing about tolerations is that they add up. The cumulative effect of those 10 little things you tolerate is huge. Each item alone might not seem like much, but add all 10 together and you have a life-zapping monster capable of completely enervating you. In fact, one of the reasons vacations tend to be so restorative is that when you go away, you finally escape your tolerations, at least for a time.

Thomas Leonard, the founder of Coach U, points out that the rearing process for most kids involves developing patience, waiting your turn, thinking of others and not just yourself, and so forth. Kids are taught to compromise and be 'flexible.' While these attitudes and behaviors may promote interpersonal harmony, at the same time, they set the pattern of ignoring what bothers you.

Also, we ignore many things because we don’t think we can handle the consequences of doing something about them, or they seem too time-consuming. We fear telling Mom to stop interrupting because we don’t want to deal with her hurt feelings and going ballistic; we don’t file the papers because it doesn’t seem a priority, and so on. In the end, though, we pay a high price for letting things slide, in some cases, to the point of losing zest for life. This is no exaggeration!

Try writing down your top 10 tolerations right now. Take your time. When you finish, choose one item on the list to take care of today. And then, go do it. Finish it or fix it so you can scratch it off your list. Choose another for tomorrow and so on, until you get your list as trimmed down as you can. Some things may take longer than a day to complete, but if you start by vanquishing an easy one today, it will energize you to tackle the bigger ones later.

Good luck! Let me know how it goes!

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1 comment:

Stela James said...

Many many thanks to you for this great share.

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