I want this – so why am I overwhelmed?
Winning a large contract and hiring new staff is supposed to feel good, right? But in the past, I would feel overwhelmed instead. Overwhelmed with all the things I had to do, all the things that could go wrong, and wondering if I could do it all right.
It’s common to feel this way as business owners, especially when we grow. Even when we’re making changes we want to make, like hiring staff, finding ways to solve problems, or creating new products for our market. Because we’re creating a NEW future, we’re stretching beyond where we’ve been before. We’re asking our brain to create new neural pathways without concrete evidence that it’ll work.
But overwhelm is optional and it slows us down. See it for what it really is: the primitive part of our brain trying to keep us “safe” by telling us the new path is dangerous. Treat it like a mirage – ignore it and keep on going in the direction of your goals.
I remember once hiring the most talented person in my industry and feeling completely overwhelmed by the number of great questions they asked and all the ideas they had about how to grow my business. I thought, “What if they find out I’m not as good a leader as they think I am?” I felt inadequate.
The truth is, they were doing exactly what I wanted them to do! My brain was creating interference in the form of overwhelm because the situation was pulling me forward to a new level of growth. I was “crossing the chasm” from the old version of me, the entrepreneur who could wing it, to the CEO of a multi-million dollar company. It felt uncomfortable.
I learned that whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’m simultaneously imagining negative outcomes. Like not getting it all done, or getting it all done right, or looking foolish. None of these thoughts have ever once helped me reach a goal.
Nothing’s gone wrong.
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed when you don’t have evidence that you’ll succeed – and you won’t have that evidence whenever you’re reaching for a new level of success.
The part of your brain responsible for your survival kicks in and creates a lot of fearful thoughts that make you feel worried or afraid so that you’ll essentially go back into the cave where it is “safe.” That’s all that’s happening. Your mind slips into negative thoughts that lead to the feeling of overwhelm so that you will stop changing.
The good news is that feeling overwhelmed is not inevitable because external circumstances or events do not cause it. Your thoughts cause it. We know this is true because we each have different thoughts about how much change and growth cause overwhelm. Oprah Winfrey and Elon Musk have very high thresholds for how much change they can handle. They simply have different thoughts about what change means. Overwhelm is optional, even if it doesn’t seem that way.
Here’s the secret: there are only two reasons you feel overwhelmed:
- You´re not aware of what you’re thinking and how those thoughts create the feeling of overwhelm.
- You think your thoughts about being overwhelmed are facts.
It’s always one of these two reasons. This means once you realize your thoughts are creating overwhelm, you can change your focus and choose thoughts that create feelings of confidence and clarity.
Make confirmation bias work FOR you.
Confirmation bias is your brain’s way of creating shortcuts so it can process all the input coming at it from the world. The brain looks for evidence to support what it believes, and deletes and distorts the rest. In other words, the brain uses the lens of your beliefs to interpret and make sense of the world.
If we believe something will be hard in our business, or there is not enough time, or we don’t have the resources, the feeling of overwhelm will arise. And because the brain will keep serving up evidence to reinforce those beliefs, it may seem inescapable.
But feeling overwhelmed is a choice. A choice we make unconsciously because we don’t realize our thoughts create it. When we use confirmation bias to our advantage, we intentionally choose to believe thoughts that SERVE us.
Beliefs are just thoughts you think are true. When you create beliefs that work in your favor, like, “I always figure things out” and “I’m growing as a person and an entrepreneur,” and even “I love my business,” – then your brain will start looking for evidence to support these beliefs. Overwhelm will be replaced by confidence and clarity.