Getting Prolific, Day 18: Vocalizing Creative Frustration

How helpful is for you to announce to yourself that you’re overwhelmed?

The word overwhelm originates in the fifteenth century.

The etymology of the term translates to mean, to submerge completely.

It was originally used by sailors and fisherman to describe a seafaring vessel that was washed over by a large wave.

Wow, isn’t that just how life feels sometimes? Like the swell is crashing over your head and dragging you under the water to the depths of the seabed?

And the worst part is, the feeling happens in the most mundane of circumstances. It’s one thing to feel overwhelmed if you’re, say, starting a new relationship or making a career transition or adopting an incontinent three legged puppy who likes to pee on your velvet couch.

But sometimes the anxiety comes when you’re doing the simplest, dumbest task. Like changing the smoke detector, sending an email to a client, or putting together a new piece of office furniture.

Why is this so goddamn hard for me?

Feelings of rage drive you into madness. You mash your forehead against the keyboard, pound your fists on the table and moan like a drain.

It’s funny, that kind of overwhelm is more insidious than getting knocked overboard by a wave. It sneaks in through the side door.

I spent most of my life feeling this way whenever I had to manually fix any kind of electronic equipment. My skin would flush, sweat soaked my back, and my heart would race.

It wasn’t a full blown panic attack, but there was enough of anxiety make me realize that it was time for a healthier relationship with my own competence.

One built on a foundation of trust and belief.

Because here’s the thing about announcing to yourself that you’re overwhelmed. It’s another way of saying that you don’t believe you possess the inner and outer resources to move forward.

Not that you shouldn’t vocalize your feelings of frustration. But there’s a fine line between emotional honesty, and talking yourself out of doing a task you’ve put off for five weeks, simply because you’re overwhelmed.

Or at least telling yourself a story that you are.

The cognitive behavioral approach to this emotional predicament goes like this.

Understand it, have compassion for it, and then replace it with a kinder, healthier response.

Instead of dismissing your chances of executing something simple, affirm them. Try not saying you’re overwhelmed and see if that makes you feel differently.

And rather than instantly doubting that you’re equal to the challenge in front of you, trust your inner resources are available to you.

In fact, delete the phrase from your vocabulary, I can’t even function right now.

Yes you can. Try employing a short ritual that intentionally supports your ability to trust yourself. Like doing a short breathing exercise or incant a mantra to yourself can help improve confidence.

That personally helped me quite a bit with my own struggles feeling overwhelmed, and there’s no reason not to try.

Look, feeling overwhelmed can create a burdening sense of disconcertedness. Nobody is saying your feelings are normal, real and valid.

But don’t let them put you at a deficit before you even begin.

Negative momentum is the worst. It makes you feel like there really is a wave crashing over your head and dragging you under.

How helpful is for you to announce to yourself that you’re overwhelmed?

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Author. Speaker. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. CEO/Founder of Pioneer of Personal Creativity Management (PCM). I also wear a nametag 24/7.