The Secret to Overcoming Overwhelm

Updated: May 19, 2020

Have you ever felt lost? Completely overwhelmed? It may be hard to believe this in our Instagram-filtered world but you are not alone. In fact, it’s often the people who post the prettiest pictures that are struggling the most. Why? Because they have the most to lose if anyone finds out that life is less than picture perfect. Or so they think.

I was that Instagram filtered person.

On the outside I had to look perfect (or as close as I ever could get to looking perfect) and it was so important that no one could see me sweat. But inside? Inside I was screaming.

I was living from vacation to vacation, and even they were few and far between. What I was really seeking was relief from my pressure cooker life. I said yes to everyone and everything because God forbid I let anyone down.

I honestly thought that was what life was supposed to be. It never occurred to me to slow down because everywhere I went I heard things like “I just don’t know how you do it all.” I had people tell me I was amazing. And who doesn’t want to hear all of that?

The problem is we don’t throw life preservers to people drowning in busy and obligation, we high five them and push them further out into the ocean.

Be a superwoman. Do it all. It all sounds good until that becomes your life and all you want is just a little relief. But now you’ve painted this perfect picture and you feel like you could never tell the truth. You believe you can’t say no when people ask you for help.

When you stay super busy you burn yourself out.

But there’s a benefit to it as well. When you keep dancing and running you don’t take the time to stop and take stock of your life to fix what needs fixing.

Perfect life balance is a myth but a balanced life is possible.

There are Seasons

What does that mean? In different seasons different things will take priority. But over time, every area of your life has to reach the priority list. If you are so focused on your children that you neglect your marriage, that’s a problem. If you are so focused on your marriage and family that you neglect your health, that’s a problem. If you are so busy that you don’t have time for true, authentic relationships, that’s a problem.

If you wait until everything hits the fan to start taking care of yourself, it will be too late to do much good.

Full disclosure: I did not learn this lesson for a long, long time. Oh, I read it in books. I heard it on podcasts. I learned it at conferences. But everyday life kept getting in the way.

Self-neglect was big business for me. I invested heavily in ignoring my own needs. If perfecting the art of not taking care of yourself was a marketable thing I could have written a book and made millions.

I ended up burning myself out and got really, really sick. My stomach was wracked with pain and I couldn’t eat anything. It’s like my body had enough. It took getting to the very end of myself to finally change how I was doing life. And even then it took some time to get out of my suck-it-up-and-keep-going mentality.

So, what did I do? What’s my big secret?