Feeling Overwhelmed? Do These Three Things and Change Your Day

I woke up this morning feeling overwhelmed. I dreaded asking my home device Alexa for the daily news while ritually making my tea; I avoided exercise on the elliptical because that’s when I watch CNN. The minefield of politics and an increasingly pervasive ‘us vs. them mentality’ is dangerous and unnerving. The world is topsy-turvy and it’s making me queasy. It feels like just about everything is out of my control.

I’m not the only one feeling this way so I thought I’d better address my own fears and share some related tips with you.

First, I needed to ask and answer a question: Is is true that darkness is conquering light? Is it true that the powerlessness I’m feeling is a reflection of other ‘dark’ forces being in charge?

The answer is a resounding No. There have been countless times in history where darkness wrestled with light. Our instincts, the reptilian parts of our brain that seek out the quickest path to an answer, keep us in the us vs. them paradigm. But the truth is that no one person or movement is in charge.  We are all in charge. I am in charge. You are in charge.

Change is the new black—it’s a style that is on trend and not going anywhere so we better learn to wear it well.

These tips will allow you to address your fears by leaning into the challenge. it’s time to take that control back. It’s time to accept a measure of responsibility for people, issues and other factors that are in your sphere. Here are three things you can do today:

Bring Consciousness to Your Biases. On the day of the presidential election, I was so confident in my (and the pollsters’) belief of the outcome that I had that I had stopped listening. I tuned in to channels that supported my views. I had a bias partially formed by my tuning into specific channels and labeling people with other opinions as less influential than those groups I associate with. It was a painful lesson. I gravitated towards viewpoints that mimicked or complemented my own because it kept me feeling less aggravated, for sure, and also allowed me to feel in control. Do you have an understanding of the unconscious biases you have?  Watch this  short video to learn more. Then connect with others to build bridges of understanding. Rabbi Susan Leider shared a useful resource with me recently. It’s an online organization whose mission it is to provide a structure for “engaging in friendly yet meaningful conversation with those with whom we may not agree”. Check out Living Room Conversations  and take control by learn more about revitalizing civil discourse.

Make a Human Velcro Factor (HVF) Investment. Velcro works because it has two sides: the rough side is the hook; its softer counterpart is the loop. Alone they have no power but together they bind in incredibly powerful ways. Humans have two sides too: typically a tough exterior and a more vulnerable interior. Too few of us share both parts. And that’s a shame because being vulnerable can be your superpower. I call it the Human Velcro Factor (HVF). It’s common for people to retrench and become isolated when feeling overwhelmed. I recently met a woman whose every view was pretty much abhorrent to me. Rather than dismiss her, I allowed myself to be vulnerable enough to really listen to her point of view and share my fears with her (rather than stating my point of view as truth). She was able to connect with me in a way that opened her thinking. The good news is that it caused her to reflect on her own point of view. The bad news was that she wanted to talk all night! Today can you engage with someone with a different point of view, and in a way that humanizes you both? Light always conquers darkness. Be the light.

Pay it Forward. The 2007 movie of the same name asks the viewer a question: “What if the world is just a big disappointment? Unless you take the things that you don’t like about this world and you flip them upside down and you start that today.” There is so much that feels wrong with the world right now that, if flipped around, can give us clarity about what to do next. What is one small thing you can do today that brings a smile to someone else? Visit an elderly neighbor, give a stressed out employee, as Chip Conley says, a full-body listen. Think about a time someone did a small and awesome thing for you and pay it forward. Be the light.

This is your invitation. Listen. Deeply listen for an understanding of diverse perspectives and for what is calling you. Unearth your own story and see how that HVF investment helps you connect with others and inspire them along the way. And please, pay it forward. The world needs you to be in charge.

For more about Waxman’s work and her upcoming event, click on her byline (above).



you may also like

Recipes We