In journaling/writing/ thank you/more please/ try this at home

writing through the tough stuff

I belong to a FB solo-business group, and today one of my colleagues posed a question to the crew around how to deal with overwhelm during personal challenges. Since I know that a lot of us deal with the same stuff, I thought I’d share her question, and my response.

(i’ve re-phrased what she originally posted for anonymity.)

Q: I’m dealing with some serious challenges in life that are impacting my business. I know it’s all good in the long run, but it’s also scary, and I’m having trouble moving ahead because of it. At the same time, I really need to get to work, but the personal stuff is distracting and getting in the way. Any tips on how to stop being so overwhelmed? 

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that I suggest writing through it. 

A: I find that venting on paper: letting go all the fear, the stuckness, and the challenges helps put it in some perspective, and creates space to move forward/think creatively/be with what comes up. Sometimes, just being mindful of the moment helps us discern the difference between what our mind is making up about what’s happening, and what’s really happening right in front of us.

Now, I didn’t go into more detail in my response to her, but since it’s my blog, I’ll blab if I want to:

If you’re not sure where to start this vent-fest, start there: “I have no idea where to begin…” sometimes, just saying what’s so opens the floodgates.

If you need a little more help beyond that, here’s a 3 step exercise I recommend.I call it the ACT method because it centers around attention, challenges, and my version of a gratitude practice: thank you, more please.

You don’t have to take a long time with this: 5 – 10 minutes should be enough to get the big stuff out. (You can always go longer, of course, but I find that a lot of people prefer working within a set amount of time, and 5 – 10 minutes is a great place to start.) 

Attention: Start with getting the things on paper that need your attention, or are getting your attention. This can be as straight-forward as your to-do list, or it can include reminders about the TV shows you DVRed that you want to watch; stuff you have to get done today or this week; a reminder to make that doctors appointment. It can also list things like the annoying dog barking in the neighbor’s yard, or the itch you can’t reach on your shoulder blades.

Challenges: Jot down the stuff that is hard for you right now. (Note the “right now” part of this. Do your best not to project too far into the future. Try to stick to this day, or this week at the most.) Vent and kvetch and throw down all the stuff that stinks and/or that feels like a hard hill to climb in your life right now. Maybe it’s the argument you had with your sister; the juggle of your crazy-busy life; maybe you’re overwhelmed with what’s going on in politics. Don’t judge it; if it’s challenging to you, get it on the page.

Thank You/More Please: Take some time to notice the things that are going right in your world, and the things you want to see more of. This can be as simple as: the hubster made the coffee this morning; I’m meeting with one of my favorite clients today; the sun is shining and I’m going for a walk at lunchtime, or something like: my family and friends are all healthy; I have a wonderful place to live; I just put a deposit down on our vacation house in the mountains. (Like this one? You can read more about it here.)

Getting stuff on paper and out of your head is a great way to stop spinning the wheels and really see what’s happening. And that’s incredibly freeing and helpful in picking the best next-right-action.

Let me know if you use this, and how it works. (And feel free to ask a question yourself. I’m full of ideas/support.) 🙂

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