Recently, I was giving a keynote address at a conference talking about the topic of overwhelm. This is one of our favorite discussion points with our audiences because it tends to stir up a bit of controversy–-and the fact that emotion arises when it comes up means we are getting to the good stuff.

I have frequently said, and will continue to say, that overwhelm is not actually real. It is a feeling. And the truth is, you are not your feelings and your feelings are not facts.

I said something similar to this statement in that conference when an audience member flew off the handle in response. I have never been heckled or seen such a public display of anger, but there it was right in front of me. It was honestly quite a shock and the attendee never even gave me a chance to explain what this really means before her angry outburst.

The fact is, we are ridiculously in charge of our own lives. That means we have the opportunity to react to every situation and choose the emotion we want to feel based on the stories we tell ourselves. Our subconscious mind tends to want to make us a victim—it is just how we are made. But victims live in a constant state of feeling overwhelmed or that the world is out to get them.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live that way. If it is a choice to feel or not feel overwhelmed, I choose to not feel overwhelmed every single time.

How do we do that?

The first step is to literally zoom out from the situation you are in that is causing the feeling of overwhelm. Typically, feelings like overwhelm are caused by some sort of underlying fear. So, what are you actually afraid of that might be the root of that emotion?

You will never correct what you are unwilling to confront.

Once you can name that fear, you can start thinking about ways to overcome it. We can decrease our concerns by getting clarity around them and the associated uncertainty present. Can you think of one thing you can do to reduce that concern? There is always one thing!

By doing that one thing, you will reduce your stress and your brain will then be able to move on to the next thing you could do. If you are stuck, you can share your uncertainties with a trusted confidante to find their perspective; that helps you to get outside of the story you are telling yourself that has you overwhelmed.

Ultimately, you will find yourself converting your concern to confidence. That situation that had you overwhelmed will transform into a valuable experience that helps you grow into an even better version of yourself.

Overwhelm is not real. It is time to reclaim your story and your emotion so it no longer has a stronghold over your life.

Are you struggling with fighting your overwhelm and victimhood? Contact [email protected] and let’s set up a call to see how we can help through one of our executive coaching programs or offerings.