Overcommitted and Overwhelmed

Feeling overcommitted, and therefore overwhelmed, is a common problem and one I struggle with off and on. Sometimes people are totally incapable of saying no to the requests of others or limiting the number of activities that they schedule into a day. Sometimes it might seem rude to say no because the person asking you to do something has done so much for you in the past. You might see it as a golden opportunity and you are fearful that you might not get the opportunity ever again, so you need to jump on it now. Guilt is often a strong factor as well. Tapping can help you gain clarity about the problem and can bring relief.

Say this problem statement aloud, “I am overcommitted. There are way too many demands on my time.” Rate the intensity on the 0-10 point scale and record your rating.

illustration for karate chop point

Setup (karate chop point) – Even though I am overcommitted and there are way too many demands on my time, I know in my heart that I am a good person, with or without all of these commitments. Even though I am overcommitted, and the stress of too many things to do is getting to me, I choose to remember that I can stop any of them at any time. Even though I am overcommitted, and I don’t know how to limit the demands on my time, I deeply and completely love and accept myself and all of my reasons for getting into this situation.

diagram of the tapping points

Eyebrow…I am overcommitted

Side of Eye…Every minute of my day seems scheduled and full

Under the Eye…There isn’t any time for me

Under the Nose…There isn’t any time for anything unplanned or unexpected

Chin…I have said yes to so many things

Collarbone…But they seemed like a good idea at the time

Under the Arm…Now I don’t know what to do about it all

Top of Head…And I really feel like I need a break

Eyebrow…I don’t want to disappoint others by saying no

Side of Eye…I don’t want to miss out on opportunities

Under the Eye…There really are a lot of things I need to do

Under the Nose…There really are a lot of things I want to do

Chin…I am open to clarity about my need to schedule so many things

Collarbone…I am open to understanding what it would take to make me feel better right now

Under the Arm…So I can move forward to health and happiness

Top of Head…I am looking forward to making choices that are good for me.

Take a deep breath and let it out. Check the intensity of your original problem statement, “I am overcommitted. There are too many demands on my time.” Record your new rating. This is a tapping that often brings up additional thoughts, feelings, or memories. Be sure to write them down and continue tapping with them until your intensity rating is very low.

Want more tapping ideas? Check out Tap It Away: 10 Minutes to Freedom With EFT.


Keeping My Word

In general, keeping my word isn’t a terribly hard thing for me, at least not the way I have interpreted that before.  Tao Te Ching: The Definitive Edition by Jonathan Star verse 8 includes, When speaking, be truthful.  In that sense keeping my word is about telling the truth.  The context surrounding the statement seems to be pointing to more than avoiding lies. It seems to be about being in harmony with truth, not just following a rule.

Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life by Wayne DyerIn Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book, Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao, the translation is Stand by your word.  This seems to call for even more personal integrity and elicits many more questions and poses more pitfalls. It would even be easy to get bogged down in this (and I did) with questions like, “can’t I ever change my mind?” or “does that leave any room for spontaneity?”, or even “everybody lies sometimes.”

After tapping and meditating on this for a while I have come to believe that this statement, like much of the Tao, isn’t about behavior as much as it is about who we are at the core. It doesn’t mean that I can’t ever tell somebody I’m going to do something and then decide that I can’t or don’t want to do it. It means that if I have committed to doing something I then need to speak the truth to the person about why I am no longer going to do it. I’m not going to blame someone or something else, make an excuse, avoid, or simply not follow through.

Not only can tapping be useful for gaining a deeper understanding of a text like this one, it can also be quite valuable in changing the way you feel after having gained the insight. I was flooded with memories of all of the times that I have made excuses, heaped blame, and therefore devalued my own word.  The emotion resulting from all of those memories have been responding well to tapping. In addition, tapping has helped when I’m tempted to lie, distort the truth, or make excuses.

There are many reasons why we choose not to be truthful or not stand by our word.  Are you afraid that you won’t make the sale, get what you want/need, or win the approval of others?  TAP!

It Will Be Difficult

Excuses Be Gone by Wayne Dyer book coverIt will be difficult is one of the excuses identified in Excuses Be Gone, a book by Dr. Wayne Dyer and published by Hay House in 2009. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have personally used this one.  It has also been a favorite for many of my patients over the years.  People (myself included) very often can cite all of the reasons why they want to do a particular thing or why they should make a particular change. If I’m in a good mood, feeling full of energy, and feel that the person is highly motivated (again, including myself), my initial response to the excuse will be “so what?” Why does something being difficult mean that I shouldn’t or couldn’t do it? When I have actually asked that question people have looked at me like I’m crazy.

There seems to be an unspoken maxim that states that one should never try to do something if it will be difficult. Sometimes it is difficult to imagine, but the opposite might also be true OR, it could actually be easy.  Without a crystal ball it is pretty hard to tell. I might know that something was difficult for me last time or that it was difficult for someone else, but I can never know for sure that something will be difficult this time. It may not be very helpful to jump to that assumption.

If we apply Dr. Dyer’s paradigm for managing the excuse it might include asking

Q – Is it true? Will it be difficult?

A – Probably not.

Q – Where did the excuse come from?

A – I allowed it

Q – What is the payoff?  How does this excuse help me?

A – I( get to avoid risks and stay the same.

Q – What would my life look like if I couldn’t use this excuse?

A – I’d be able to really be myself

Q – Can I create a rational reason to change?

A – Yes

My paradigm for addressing the excuse is similar but also includes tapping (not a surprise I’m sure.)

Q – Where did this excuse come from?

A – Start tapping (tap through the points, changing to the next one whenever it diagram of the tapping pointsfeels right) and let your thoughts flow freely while you try to answer this question. This might include becoming aware of what you are feeling, when you have used this excuse before, and how it feels when you use it.  Get as specific as you can about the excuse, the purpose of the excuse, and the desired outcome of the excuse.

Q – Was there a time that this excuse helped or protected me?

A – The answer is probably yes. Now keep tapping and get specific, remembering the instances in which the excuse was somehow beneficial to you. Try not to get caught up in self-judgment or blame. View the events as if they were a movie or as if you are seeing it happening in the distance and keep tapping.

Q – What am I afraid would happen if I drop this excuse?

A – You will get better results if you can suspend self-judgment about having used this excuse before.  As you found out with the previous step, you developed this excuse for a reason.  Now continue tapping and take a look at the fear or anxiety that entices you to keep using the excuse and perhaps re-evaluate its usefulness to you.

Q – What would be the benefit of eliminating this excuse?

A – Start Tapping.  All things have pros and cons. Now is the time to look at the positive side of eliminating the excuse.  Your results will be best if you can get very specific and get a clear vision of what things might be like on the other side of the fence if you eliminate the excuse.  Remember, the grass is supposed to be woman jumping over the fencegreener on the other side so focus your energy on all of the good things awaiting you if you jump over the fence without the excuse.

If you decide to keep the excuse, please do so without self-blame or regret. You now understand your own motivations and decisions. If you decide to let go of the excuse, congratulations. Now you know that what you are contemplating may actually be easy.  You have also gained awareness of your own ability to do things that are difficult.

Seeing Red

Fist hitting red objectEveryone knows the feeling of anger.  Who hasn’t experienced “seeing red” at least a few times in their life?  What else do you know about anger?  Try this quiz and see how you do.

 

 

1. True or False – Anger is a good warning signal letting you know that you need to take some sort of action.

2. True or False – Anger can be important to the survival of the species.

3. True or False – Anger is the same thing is disapproval.

4. True or False – Ladies don’t get angry.

5. True or False – You must release or discharge anger.

(Answers are at the bottom of the page.)

All of us experience anger and that is ok.  What we do, or don’t do, with anger may be the problem.  Anger can be expressed in five basic ways: suppression, open aggression, passive aggression, assertiveness, and dropping it.

Suppression involves holding anger inside in an unhealthy way.  Someone engaging in suppression may try to “put on a good front” or pretend to feel no angry man yelling in ragetension.  Open aggression is taking a stand for personal worth, needs, and/or convictions at someone else’s expense. Open aggression may involve explosiveness, rage, intimidation, blame, bickering, criticism, or sarcasm.

While the name sounds better, passive aggression also occurs at the expense of someone else. It may be quieter and it also causes less personal vulnerability for the angry person.  Assertive anger preserves one’s personal worth, needs, and convictions while considering the needs and feelings of others.  In my opinion this is a true art form.

Finally, dropping your anger is also a possibility. It is possible to accept one’s inability to completely control circumstances and to recognize personal limits. You may realize that the anger is misplaced, ineffective, or out of proportion.

Changing your pattern of angry thoughts, feelings, and behaviors is not easy. Anger often involves so many automatic responses that just unraveling the real issue can be tough.

two goats head butting each otherUnmanaged anger can be an incredibly destructive force.  R. Brayton Bowen, as president of the Howland Group, estimated that there are as many as 18,000 workplace assaults each week.  According to a Yale University study, the main factor in employee rage is a real or imagined slight by a supervisor or manager. Perceived lack of productivity by co-workers, tight deadlines, and heavy workloads were also identified. The study suggested that this underground chronic anger that is present in the workplace affects one-fourth of the working population. Businesses who address workplace stress and teach employees anger management skills find that the company’s bottom line improves based on increased productivity, decreased absenteeism, and reduced medical costs.

Anger doesn’t just impact employees and employers. School-aged children often have not learned effective anger management skills.  A school in Staffordshire has implemented a program designed to prevent the aggressive behaviors commonly recognized in the school system with good results.

Intimate relationships can trigger aggressive responses if anger is not tended to appropriately. Domestic violence, rape, verbal assault, sarcasm, and arguing all stem from anger.  Most people agree that this type of angry behavior is ineffective at best and, at worst destructive.

So what can you do?  First, recognize the source of the anger. When boiled down, it will probably relate to one of these:

  • Interruption of plans or goals
  • Implications of non-compliance
  • Concern about injury
  • Expectations
  • History repeating itself
  • Overload
  • Personal peeves
  • Embarrassment

You see, none of those is really about the other person. They are all about you and how you feel.

Second, take appropriate action, not to make the other person suffer, but to solve the real problem. This may involve more communication, more planning, less mind-reading, and better self-care.

Anger management classes can be extremely effective. Invest some time and effort and sign up for one. Do you work in a pressure-cooker environment? Ask your boss to bring in a consultant to help the entire team deal with anger more effectively.  It would be a win-win situation.  Is your child displaying problems with anger? Take a look at the anger-management role model you may be providing and make the appropriate changes.

(Answers: TTFFF)

What Do You Believe You Are Capable Of?

Jump Ship by Josh Shipp book coverYou may have already read my book review of Jump Ship by Josh Shipp. As I mentioned in that review, the book offers much more than guidance for changing careers. There are many gems hidden in the pages that have potential for profound life-changing “ah ha” moments.  One of them is this question, “What do you believe you are capable of?”

Those 8 words stopped me in my tracks. I re-read them several times.  What do I believe I am capable of? It sounds like a lot of ego, but I have always believed I was capable of great things. There has always been a burning desire to do something big, something that mattered, something remarkable. I honestly don’t know where that came from. I don’t remember being told that I could do something important. Actually, I remember being told from a variety of sources that I wasn’t anything special.  There were those warnings that “pride goeth before a fall”, that I was acting “too big for my britches”, and many other quaint but powerful statements that suggest that “I am not all that.”

I heard them. Believe me, I definitely heard them. And there were times that I didn’t attempt something because I also, on some level, believed them.  Little things, like not being one of the senior superlatives in high school also caused me to question and doubt.  There were many comments and experiences to help balance some of this out. I received many accolades for being smart. My musical spark that never goes outtalent was almost always praised. And boy could I water ski for such a little kid. So while there were individual ups and downs in my confidence level at certain points in my life, that tiny little spark never went out.

It was that tiny spark that has allowed me to continue pushing through the tough times and continue striving for something better. So what do I believe I am capable of? I’m still not sure. Words like “anything” and “almost anything” come to mind but are quickly silenced by the doubts of other people that still ring in my ears. So, I chose to revise the question to “what do I want to be capable of?” That seemed like an easier place to start. In the context of Jump Ship I want to be capable of making a living as an author.

Next in the Jump Ship process is the internal review process. OK, so I want it – but do I BELIEVE IT? That is TBD. After writing and publishing the last two books I have discovered just how much is really involved in becoming an author. It isn’t as simple as just writing some pages of text and voila, you are an author.  My third book has been sitting in the wings, almost complete for more than two years. On my white board over my desk I have written “Authors Must Write” in big bold letters to remind me what I must do to accomplish this.

So my expanded  set of questions includes, “Am I capable of coming up with the ideas, capable of editing, capable of promoting, able to tolerate rejection, and all of the other things that go along with it?”  So far I’ve found that I am certainly better prepared for some of these tasks than others, and I enjoy doing some of these tasks much more than I enjoy others.

I do believe Josh Shipp’s premise that you have to BELIEVE in order to really ACHIEVE your dreams.  So what about you?  What do you believe you are capable of?

The Art of Extreme Self-Care

The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a time by Cheryl Richardson book cover photoThe Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time by Cheryl Richardson is aesthetically pleasing and full of insight.

This is a wonderful book and I have recommended it to many of my clients, friends, and family.  I have read a lot of self-help books.  This is definitely one of the best. I felt like I actually had a “to do” plan at the end of each chapter and I kept post-it notes nearby to flag section that I wanted to go back and re-read because the book was much too beautiful to mark or damage the pages.

Cheryl’s insightful observations and direct questions stimulated several pages of notes for my tapping journal. It looks like I have a lot of work ahead of me, but instead of dread like I often experience while reading this type of book, I am actually excited to do the work.

It has been a while since I read it the first time but have picked it up again.  I am as excited about it now as I was the first time.

Isshin, Mushin, and Zanshin

Image of tree inside glass ballI’m a planner.  In fact, my standard mode of operation has always been to try to anticipate every possible complication or contingency and plan for it.  I’m the classic “if he does this, then I’ll do this” kind of girl.  Since beginning to study the principles of martial arts I’ve been intrigued by the possibility of letting go of such rigid thinking. In theory it sounds like a great idea. In terms of fighting or martial arts it even makes some sense to me.  I had the opportunity to test this a while back in my real life.

The best part of this story for me is….I didn’t pre-plan it. It wasn’t one of those times when I said, “hey I think I’ll see how these principles would work here.”  I was scheduled for a meeting with a lot of different professional people.  In the past these meetings have always felt quite adversarial. I’ve always gone into the meeting wearing my very best power suit and armed to the teeth with copies of the current applicable legal statues, braced for a fight. Typically I would have spent the night before rehearsing in my mind everything that I thought I should say and appropriate responses for any and all objections.

I woke up on the morning of the meeting and had actually forgotten that the meeting was scheduled. I put on a rather feminine (aka “girlie”) dress and went to work. There was only a slight moment of panic when I realized I was deviating from my plan. On the way to the meeting several things happened that weren’t in my game plan, including a change of meeting location and awful traffic. During that drive I reflected briefly on what my desired outcome was and set my intention to reach that goal.

When I arrived in the room I spent a few minutes listening to the mood of the other individuals that had arrived. I paid some attention to the energy that each was giving off. Normally I would have just assumed them all to be hostile. What I found was that most of the people in the room had the same objective that I did. I made a mental note. I also chose to position myself nearest the person who was most likely to be my major opponent. Again, this was in sharp contrast to anything I might have done before.

When my adversary attacked (verbally) I countered. I relied on my previous experience and training to allow me to respond, not some pre-orchestrated response. This worked so well I was amazed. Each time there was a new objection or a diversion I focused again primarily on my objective. I was able to adapt and continue working toward what I believed was the inevitable goal.

The meeting actually went well and my objectives were met. In the past I would have turned tail and literally run away. Instead I stayed and connected with the individuals that were present and made sure that there wouldn’t be any stray items to deal with later.

While all of this was happening I certainly wasn’t thinking of Isshin, Mushin, and Zanshin. It wasn’t until I was driving back to my office that it occurred to me that my meeting is some ways paralleled these principles. I was very excited. While I have studied martial arts principles in the dojo, I was excited to experience the principles in the rest of my world.

Tao Te Ching, Holy Bible, and Abraham Lincoln

Book cover of Tao Te Ching: The Definitive Edition by Lao Tzu from amazon.comI have been reading Tao Te Ching: The Definitive Edition by Lao Tzu, translated by Jonathan Star for quite a while now.  Sounds like light lunch time reading, doesn’t it?  In the introduction I was struck with the similarity between the Tao Te Ching and the Holy Bible.  Please hear me out.  The first similarity was the difficulty in preserving a knowledge base that was primarily oral.  Both the Tao Te Ching and the stories of the Holy Bible were oral traditions that were written down at a later time.  There are many similar challenges including the writer’s own biases when hearing and re-telling a story, the political and cultural influences of the time, language translation issues, and poor memory. Have you ever played telephone? By the time you get even 2-3 people deep into the retelling of a message it can often be significantly altered, not just in the details, but in the real message of the story.

The second similarity that struck me was the question of whether picture of open Biblethe story or phrase was intended to be literal or illustrative. This quandary is often evident in Bible stories and there is considerable discord between the factions that believe that everything is literal and those who believe it is a figurative lesson meant to inspire or teach.

A third similarity was that reading the verses of the Tao Te Ching elicits more questions that the answers provided. That has often been my experience when reading from the Bible. I can easily generate long lists of “but what about…?” from either book.

You may be wondering where Abraham Lincoln fits in all of this. Abraham Lincoln statueAs I was thinking about writing this post I recalled an event many years ago when my older son, then about 3 or 4, was almost inconsolable when he asked me about the man whose face was on the penny. I told him about Abraham Lincoln, and he asked me where he was. I explained that he had been killed many years ago.  My son began crying. When asked why he was crying he stated, “because I’ll never get to know him.” That is also the truth of the Tao Te Ching and the Holy Bible.  We will never really know.

As seekers of truth and wisdom we can make best guesses, sit in meditation, engage in prayer, and evaluate the cumulative knowledge of others, but we will never really know. For me it does feel sad.  So much has been lost.

Beyond the wisdom of the texts, what can I learn from this?

  • Don’t assume that others will remember my stories accurately
  • If it is important, I should write it down
  • It is my responsibility to share the stories of my “tribe”, culture, and my life. No one else can really do it.
  • If I want to know the stories and beliefs of my ancestors, I need to ask while they are still here and able to share them with me. I wait at my own peril.

Did anyone bring the marshmallows?

glowing campfireI tend to be an optimist, but sometimes I have a hard time seeing the silver lining right away.  Thursday morning started as any other day. I got up and showered, fed the dogs, made my breakfast, packed my lunch for work, then went into the laundry room to check the dogs’ water bowl.  I know many people walk through their mornings in a haze, but I literally walked into the haze during my morning. The room was filling with smoke.  In less that a minute the smoke detectors started blaring and smoke started filling the house.

Skipping to the end of the story – everyone is fine and the house is intact.  But a lot happened between the smoke and now.

Our boiler malfunctioned (another long story) and was burning a hole through the floor beneath it.  If this had happened after we had left for work we wold likely have lost everything.  I made it to work, although smelled like smoke) and Scott stayed home, assessed the damage, and went to work on the repairs.

At work I alternated between anxiety and gratitude that this happened while I was at home.  Fast forward to Friday – no hot water and the house smells like a campfire.  I decided I had a picture of marshmallows toasting to make s'moreschoice.  I could either focus on how inconvenient it was to not be able to take a hot shower and how smokey my house smelled or I could close my eyes and imagine cooking marshmallows for s’mores over the campfire.  I chose the latter.

kitchen sink with running waterSaturday – still no hot water.  My natural optimism was returning and by Saturday afternoon I could finally wash dishes again.  Wash dishes? I have never looked forward to washing dishes in my entire life.  Perhaps that is optimism taken too far.

Looking at everything that happened from this vantage point revealed a few lessons.

  1. I really am an optimist.  However, just because I am an optimist doesn’t mean I don’t feel unhappy or frustrated sometimes. Being an optimist just means that it is my default viewpoint.  Both tapping and conscious choice restored my balance.
  2. Looking for the blessings in your life is important. Unless you look for them you might miss out.  It would have been easy for me to focus on the inconveniences of the day but I know it would not have been a good thing for me or anyone else.
  3. I can tolerate more than I sometimes think I can.  I don’t usually like surprises or anything that disrupts my daily routine.  This event was a disruption but I actually bounced back rather quickly.

I hope I don’t have a fire again.  I hope you don’t either.  But if we do, think about marshmallows.

Confront Your Naked Identity

Large rope implying presence of a docked shipDoes that statement scare you a little bit? It did me. I noticed that statement in Jump Ship, a book by Josh Shipp.  I’ve mentioned this book in a few different posts.  What the author was speaking about was getting real with yourself about who you are. He considers this an essential task for becoming successful in life. The question one must ask is “who am I?” The answer needs to be honest.

The question isn’t very difficult, but the naked answer sure is. When you first consider the question you may have some ready-made answers like “I’m a mom”, “I’m short”, “I’m Caucasian”, or “I’m a doctor.” I would argue that these are just the roles you play. Other people come up with answers that include what other people have said about them like “strong-willed”, “efficient”,  “lazy”, or “beautiful.” That may not be who you really are either.

To help with confronting your naked identity Shipp offers these questions:

  1. What makes you unique?
  2. What do you love?
  3. What are you good at?
  4. What do you believe?

I’d like to offer a few more:

  1. What do you dislike?
  2. What are you most afraid of?
  3. What makes you cry?
  4. What makes you laugh?
  5. What are you afraid to let other people know about you?
  6. What brings you the most pleasure?

You might be wondering why this is so important. Consider this. Suppose that I want to make chocolate cupcakes. I have my ingredients all lined up to make them. Unfortunately the canister labeled sugar actually contains salt. What will happen to the cupcakes? You can be sure that I’ll be unhappy with the end product. In life the same thing can happen. If we do not see ourselves with accuracy – confronting that naked identity – it can be difficult, if not impossible, to get the end result we desire.  We must know what “ingredients” we bring to the table.

So, if you dare, confront your naked identity and get “cooking”!