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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How to Overcome Feeling Overwhelmed

 By: Larry Iverson


Overwhelm, why does it happen? What can you do about it? How can you break out of the cycle?

There are four reasons that overwhelm occurs. The first and primary reason is because of lack of knowledge or skill. There are times when you may want to do something and you might have some knowledge on how to do it, but you may not be totally clear on how to make it happen. You think about it, look at it, you study, you apply some of the things you know, but it seems like there's something missing. So you then begin to feel overwhelmed because of a lack of knowledge or a lack of skill.

The second reason is because you're trying something which is too big for you. For instance, I've written multiple books. When you first start thinking about writing a book, it's overwhelming, it's a daunting task. Let's say you want to write a book that's 100,000 words, that's about 300 pages long. The first thing you have to do is to think about how am I going to get through this? It's such a big project, all those chapters, all of those words, hundreds of paragraphs. How do I do that?

Once when author John Steinbeck was giving a lecture, someone asked him, "What is writing a novel like? How do you go about that process?" Steinbeck paused a moment and said, "Well, writing a novel is like painting a barn with a toothbrush."

He said, "When you first start out, it's absolutely overwhelming. You don't even know where to start, but you pick one little corner down low on one side of the building and you start painting. And, you get the first couple of inches done. Then, you paint the next little bit above it, and so on."

Steinbeck chuckled and said, "When you get done, the barn doesn't look too bad, but painting a barn with a toothbrush is a little bit daunting." So is writing a book. That's the second reason why overwhelm happens, because you're working on something which is so large, it seems too big to you.

The third reason that overwhelm occurs is because we don't have a plan. What's your plan? What are you going to do? What is the process you want to have happen? Where do you want to get to? Where are you starting? Where are you going to end? What's the process from here to there? What are you going to do to make that happen?

The plan is absolutely crucial. You got to have a vision. You got to know where you want to go. Do you want more success in your life? Do you want to have better relationships? Do you want to be happier? Do you want to make more money? You've got to have a plan. If you don't have a plan, you will waste a significant amount of time wandering around in unproductive territory.

So overwhelm can occur because you don't have something planned out. Inside of your plan, point number four is you got to break it down into steps, and then take action. It's like writing the book.

When you first start writing a book you make decisions, "Okay, I want to address these 20 topics. These will be my 20 chapters." Then you take chapter one, "I'm going to address this topic here, and I'm going to talk about these 10 things in chapter one." Those would be your 10 subchapter headings. Let's say that each subchapter heading will take about a page. And on each page you're going to have five paragraphs under each subchapter heading. And each paragraph will be three to four sentences long.

So you have 10 subheadings inside of each chapter, so you begin by taking the first one. Under that subhead, you decide what the first paragraph of the five paragraphs under this topic will be. Then, you write that one first paragraph. Hey, you're making progress! You've only got one paragraph out of hundreds you need to write, but you're making progress. You then say, "Okay, what am I going to talk about secondly, thirdly, fourthly?" and pretty soon, you have written one page!.

You break things into steps. No matter what the task is, whether you want to be better at a sport, you want to improve your golf game, your tennis game, you want to be a better swimmer, you want to learn something brand new. Whatever it is, you break it into steps. The biggest task, the most overwhelming task, when broken down into component steps can be tackled. You can do this.

You need to get control over your negative self-talk and focus more positively. Focus on the positive and detach from the negative stuff. Detach from that which overwhelms you. Detach from that which scares you. You just break it into pieces, focus on only one piece at a time, and then take action.

The reasons again why overwhelm happens is 1. because of lack of knowledge or skill, 2. because it's too big, 3. because you don't have a plan or you don't have a vision or goals, and 4. you haven't broken that plan down into its component steps, and then take action on one step.

When you begin to break through those, overwhelm will be in the past for you. If your brain tries to run off down a negative path, don't let it. Use your positive attitude and your positive focus to chunk things down into smaller steps so you can achieve what you want.

Do you want a better lifestyle? Do you want to feel happier? Do you want to have more positive and powerful relationships? They all can be yours. Take steps daily to move you closer and closer to the life you want. You can have whatever you desire. Make today and everyday a great day!

The Best of Success to You.

Dr Larry Iverson is a Clinical Psychologist, author, speaker and coach. He recently released a 20 video series covering how to build an unstoppable success mindset. To get your free set of 20 videos go to Would you like to improve your health, money, happiness, career, relationships? These videos show you exactly how to rapidly eliminate negative patterns, so you feel great and achieve the results you want!

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