Do you ever feel overwhelmed and anxious? Don’t be ashamed to admit it, I know I am at times. The world around us can be maddening. And loud. Every day there are chores, responsibilities and a seemingly endless onslaught of bad news and images on our TVs and phones. We race from home to work, to appointment, to school, to our kid’s school, back to work, don’t forget the grocery store, and then home again where laundry, bills and dogs to be walked await us before we fall into an exhausted haze that we convince ourselves is a restful sleep. Does any of this sound familiar? Maybe we don’t all experience these things every day, but many of us truly know the feeling of being overwhelmed; like there are not enough hours in the day or energy in the emotional tank to handle what life throws at us. What are we to do then? What choices and options can we embrace to aid in feeling less overwhelmed in our lives? My Hopefuls, the one I recommend today is actually found within each and every one of us; and it is the ability to quiet the noise and listen to your ‘inside voice’; also known as believing in yourself.
That might sound a bit fantastical and maybe even unattainable, because most of our lives we are conditioned to listen to the ‘outside voices’; the voices of those around us who we try to please and aspire to be like. We read books, watch podcasts and scroll past memes all designed to motivate us to work harder, dig deeper and the golden prize is just around the corner. Don’t get me wrong, I love inspiration. I love giving it and I love being on the receiving end, but all of the encouragement in the world will bounce right off if I am not prepared to accept it, and that starts with having a solid foundation of self-love and belief in myself.
Somewhere along the way we have lost the ability to communicate with ourselves. I don’t mean the rambling pep talks we give to the mirror getting dressed for our day. No, I’m talking about sincere times of reflection where we shut out the chaos and really listen to our heart. Parent’s use the term ‘inside voice’ to describe a level of volume for their children that is acceptable and pleasing within an enclosed environment. I suggest that each of us have an emotional inside voice that, if listened to, will bring us self-acceptance and a pleasing outcome. How does this help to reduce stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed? Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Learn To Say No. If your inside voice says that you do not have the time or energy (or maybe even the finances) to participate in an event, fund-raiser, get-together, project meeting, volunteering, etc; learn to bow out gracefully, without excuses. You do not have to agree to do or attend everything asked of you. Yes, it can be flattering, or maybe you feel obligated, or worse, selfishly believe it wouldn’t be the ‘same’ without you, however you owe it to yourself to space out your activities and set aside some down time for relaxing and refreshing. The world will continue to spin if you are not on the axis, I promise.
Learn To Say Yes. Saying yes can be a wonderful mood lifter. Say yes to that outfit or new pair of hiking boots that you have been looking at and even saving for. Say yes to the movie marathon on a cold, wintry day with comfort food, throw pillows and your favorite blanket. Or say yes to your often discussed plan to go visit an old friend or a new city, even if it means going alone. Giving yourself permission to follow your heart’s plan occasionally will reduce stress, lower anxiety and give you a fresh new outlook on life. I do not wish for anyone to act irresponsible with money, hurtful to others, or be careless, but it’s ok to allow for fun and joy in our lives.
Learn To Say I Will. Oftentimes we need to not only listen to our inside voice, we need to speak life and truth to ourselves; out loud. It may sound silly to you, but I suggest going back to the mirror for this exercise. Everyone has their own unique set of ‘wills’, but stand in front of your reflection and proclaim them. “I will be brave.” “I will stand up for myself.” “I will follow that dream.” “I will say I’m sorry”. “I will forgive.” “I will ask for that raise.” “I will try again.” “I will be honest about my feelings.” The list is endless and encompasses anything in your life/love/world that is important to you. Taking the step to make these commitments out loud will propel you in that direction with determination. Test me on this.
My Hopefuls, I understand that feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious and even depressed are real issues that many of us deal with in our daily lives. Faith and the love of others can go a long way in helping, and my ideas are just some additional strategies. I am not suggesting they are a quick fix or magic pill, but I do believe in the power of YOU. You are stronger than you know. You have been equipped with wisdom and insight into what motivates, inspires and makes you happy. Your responsibility is to LISTEN to your inner voice and then BELIEVE in yourself. Stop looking to others for validation and approval. Don’t judge your failures, or successes, by another’s. The world’s outside voices will drown you in the noise if you allow it. So don’t!
Take a few minutes today to shut out the chaos and truly listen to what your inside voice is telling you. I promise it will change your outlook.
And always remember to:
Hope With Abandon