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What do you do when you are completely overwhelmed at work?
How do you stop this from affecting your ability to do your job and deliver at your best? Especially when you have deadlines with important people waiting on you.
Sandra (a former client of mine) had a very busy day ahead with meetings booked in. And although the first meeting overran by an hour, she felt slightly ok coming out of the meeting.
As she replayed the meeting’s discussion over in her mind. She thought about the many tasks she had to action straight away and felt strong and ready to tackle them.
But when she returned to her desk and saw the humongous amount of email queries she had,
Her heart began to beat fast…
At that very moment, she felt like she didn’t know what to do and felt teary-eyed.
Sandra felt like her world was on the verge of crumbling. That was her immediate reaction.
How could she stop herself feeling like this because it drains and slows her down, affecting her ability to do her job every time it happens?
If you can relate… You’ve probably asked yourself the same question.
How do you stop yourself from suddenly feeling overwhelmed like this?
That’s what I aim to answer in today’s email.
You see Sandra got caught in three common traps that drove her to feel overwhelmed.
The first trap was ironically caused by one of her best coping strategies.
You see, at the back of her mind, Sandra was worrying about what would be waiting for her before getting back to her desk. Her coping strategy was to always pre-empt things going wrong before embarking on most situations. This way she could catch problems before they happened.
So, I asked her a question a normally ask in similar situations…
“Have you ever tried preempting things going well?”
And she replied…
“If I'm being honest, I've never really thought about it that way.”
Bringing this back to you…
In those moments when the worst-case scenario flashes before your mind. Where you envision losing your Job, you envision losing your relationship or you envision losing your home…
Do you ever try preempting things going well?
What’s my point?
Your brain can’t magically motivate you with positive visions If you never train it to consider the possibility of things going well. This is a strong foundation that forces your brain to default to the overwhelming negative possibilities all the time. It becomes a powerful negative trigger.
Moving on to the second trap…
As Sandra looked at the realms and realms of emails in her mailbox, she started feeling sorry for herself.
“It is not fair to expect her to carry such a heavy workload and still have to do all this admin work.” She thought.
But the more she thought about this, the more overwhelmed she got.
Now, why would I call this a trap?
The reality about life is that we will always come across situations that are not fair. We’ll always come across situations where people put too many expectations on us. We’ll come across situations where people take advantage of us.
If you only look at these situations as being unfair you will struggle to stop yourself from feeling overwhelmed.
Because that mindset forces your brain into an emotional alarm. Meaning that power is taken away from your frontal lobe, thereby sapping away your ability to problem-solve. And how can you function effectively at work if you can’t problems solve properly?
The better approach would be to look at the situation, acknowledge that it feels painful and unfair. Remind yourself that this is normal to life and then plan out a strategy to help you work through the situation in order to achieve the best outcome possible.
The third trap comes off the second trap…
And this trap occurs when you start to beat yourself up for feeling overwhelmed. And then proceed to criticize yourself up for beating yourself up.
In Sandra’s situation, she felt pathetic that she was feeling sorry for herself. And this just made her way worse.
If you can relate, here’s a question…
Imagine a friend of yours, who was in the same scenario, was feeling overwhelmed?
Would you tell them that they are just being a big baby?
No, you definitely wouldn't. Because that would be like kicking a wounded horse.
Instead, you would probably say, it's natural to feel overwhelmed. This is just your body responding to a lot of work.
Saying that would make your friend feel supported. It would help her feel calm and less overwhelmed.
In a similar way, it’s a good thing to say to yourself…
It is normal to feel overwhelmed. It's just a feeling it doesn't mean I can't do the work or that I won't do the work. I don’t need to fight it or have feelings of guilt for feeling it.
When you think like this, you’d be amazed at how easily that overwhelmed feeling slips away.
That would be great, wouldn’t it?
I hope you can see how tackling these three overwhelming traps as I have described above can help you become more resilient at work… This is the key to stopping that drowning feeling when you feel overloaded.
That’s it for today…
Hope you have a wonderful day
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