how to overcome overwhelm

Moving from Doing to Being

how to overcome overwhelmWe live in a culture of overwhelm. At a time when many of us have multiple responsibilities we feel driven, out of control. Technology brings information to our fingertips in overwhelming amounts. We find ourselves multitasking, reacting, doing as much as we can in the least amount of time. The downside is that we lose touch with our natural rhythm, our body wisdom, each other, we become like the proverbial hamster on the wheel. When people ask how we are, “Fine” has been replaced by “Too busy.” We lose our health, we lose our minds, we lose ourselves.

Feeling too busy drives us crazy. Falling ever further behind as our to-do list relentlessly grows is nerve-racking and stressful. Sleep evades us. We become addicted to caffeine, sugar, junk food, junk news, anything to keep us moving, stressing our adrenals and triggering our primitive brain’s fight flight response in the process.

We begin to feel like prisoners of the to-do list, prisoners of our lives and our desires, prisoners of time.  We become addicted to the state of doing.

The brain generates 50,000 thoughts in a day, many of which are related to fear, worry,  anxiety. Our mind or ego needs something to do so it creates stories to keep it busy. These stories are subconscious, originating from our life experiences and the way we made meaning of them. We may have been taught that success is hard work so we look for ways to be busy to create “success.” That definition never included happiness or peace.

What beliefs do you hold about being busy? Can you identify your subconscious belief statements about being busy? Perhaps you were taught that if you weren’t busy you were lazy, that it wasn’t safe to rest, that you were not worthy of having fun. There is a powerful clue to the conditioned response of our reaction to busyness. It is found in our language. The word is “should”. When you find yourself agreeing to do something because you think you should, I invite you to pause and reflect. Whose voice is it that says you “should?”  If you can take a breath and reflect, substituting the words “I choose to” or “ I don’t choose to”, then you begin to live in a way that  adds value to your life that shifts you to a way of being.

Sometimes just a phrase can help: Repeating  “Not busy “ or “Just this”, we are reminded that it is our feelings, thoughts and reactions that make us feel pressured, not the tasks we have to do.

Tuning in to our breath is a simple technique which is always available and profound in its results. As we notice our breathing without trying to alter it we become aware of the inhalation, the exhalation, and the momentary pause that follows the end of the exhalation.  The pause is a well, a resource that is always available to us.  If we can relax and surrender to the restfulness in the pause we can learn to trust that the next breath can arise out of the pause without our grabbing for it.  There is nothing to “do”

Our breath is a powerful metaphor for the choices we can make on how we live our lives- where can the inhalation remind us of the places we are “in-spired “ in our lives? How does the exhalation inform us of that which we are ready to let go of, which no longer serves us? And where can we create natural spaces in our day to refresh, reflect and create anew?

As we slow down and listen to our inner wisdom, we might find it instructive to reflect on Turtle Wisdom.  In Native American teachings, the turtle is the oldest symbol for the planet earth. Turtle invites us to honor the creative source within us, to be grounded, to take pleasure in the simple things in life and to treat ourselves and others with compassion, to slow down and just “be”.

Turtle wisdom reminds us that all we need for all we do is available to us if we approach it in the right manner and time.

1 thought on “Moving from Doing to Being

  1. Rebecca Spivack

    Dear Suzannah, i can certainly relate to this and see myself in some it too. I especially like the metaphor of breath. I can feel you in your writing and it comes through loud and clear. I hope this new site brings you lots of opportunities to expand your practice. It seems that your are surrounded by a really supportive network of friends and colleagues. How wonderful!! Wishing you a happy joyful birthday, filled with love.
    All my best wishes,


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