When things become overwhelming, it can be easy to hold uneasy emotions inside. It could be dealing with a mistake that happened, the way a colleague talked to you, the stress you see your team under, or expectations that aren’t possible to meet. To talk through these feelings helps you move through the situation and gain some relief.
The way you deal with overwhelm is a habit.
You’ve got a strategy to deal with this state of mind. My strategy use to be recall all the things I’ve got to do, ruminate on them, feel bad, and then do this all over again. This is a major sign a strategy has a problem.
Your strategy for dealing with uneasy feelings is effective if it leads to good feelings not bad ones.
If you’re at all like I was, I did not share things like this hardly ever with anyone. Being honest with myself now, I was afraid I’d be judged and was embarrassed. So to hear “talk things through” would’ve really freaked me out because that was out of my comfort zone. It was only after I got into the habit of sharing did I realize there were creative ways to do this in a way I felt safe.
If you’re tired of the stress that comes from holding things in, this 5-step method helps you find some peace in a way that you can feel safe and at ease. This is a writing exercise so get a pen and piece of paper handy.
This 10-15 minute exercise can get you back lots of time spent constantly worrying.
Step 1: Identify Your Strong Negative Thoughts
Instead of thinking about the negative things anymore, start writing them down on a piece of paper. It may be that you’ve messed up a project, that you may not meet a deadline, you’ve lost contact with your friends, or you feel icky because you stopped exercising. This is a totally safe place – it’s just between you and the piece of paper
Step 2: Pick a Negative Thought to Talk Through
From the list that you made in the step above, pick the one thought that you’d benefit the most from if you were able to relieve it. Make a big circle around it on your list. Then, make a commitment in your heart to move through it – even say to yourself how wonderful it will be to talk this through.
Step 3: Get the Whole Story Out
Give yourself 5-10 minutes to write down all the pertinent details around the situation causing that thought. This can be stream of consciousness writing. Go until you feel you’ve expressed the main areas that you’ve been ruminating on. And check, make sure you’ve written down how it’s making you feel and why.
Step 4: Ask Yourself Powerful Questions
You’re now transitioning into an observer role. In order to get to the root of the situation, it’s key to ask yourself some thought-provoking questions like: What is the positive intention of your bad feeling? How can you meet that intention in a more positive way? What are the lessons you’re learning from this situation? What is the gift or opportunity you can take away from it? How can you take action on this insight?
Challenge yourself. You can answer these questions. Push past saying “I don’t know” and get into the heart of the matter.
Step 5: Find a Home for Your Story
Once you’ve released your story on the paper, you’ve already talked through it in a new way. You as the observer speaking to you as your overwhelmed self. Now that it’s out, decide if you want to hold on to it for learning purposes or maybe you want to rip it all up and let it go. Do what feels right for you.
Let yourself feel the release of this story and the open space it created.
Bonus Step: Going Beyond
When you feel you’ve gotten enough practice with this method, check in with yourself. Are you ready to start sharing some of this story with someone else? For me, I started sharing with my coach in India. For you, it could be a trusted mentor.
The key is to find someone that will help you work towards a solution and can remain neutral to the situation you’re dealing with. It’s important to progress to this step because you’ll gain helpful perspective. Take your time and find the right person for you.
When you use an effective strategy to talk things through, you can reliably gain relief to challenges that arise. You can be creative. Use your notebook as a confidante. Get use to the process of sharing. It’ll become like riding a bike.
Please share in the comments how it felt to take the first step about listing out your negative thoughts. Relieved, curious, critical. This in itself is a beginning to talk things through from another lens. Take advantage!
If you know someone that struggles with with managing uneasy feelings, feel free to pass along this peaceful process to them.