A Beautiful Mess: Spring Cleaning For The Soul

A Beautiful Mess: Spring Cleaning For The Soul

Community Love Motivation + Inspiration

Internal chaos manifest itself in many different external forms: an unhealthy diet, insomnia, addictive behaviors, chronic indecision or stagnation. For many of us, it takes shape in the form of messiness. And just like with a fast-food habit or a lack of sleep, the toxins can start to build up.

Just in time for spring cleaning season, let’s talk about a subject I feel I’m a tenured-professor-level expert in: clutter. Internal and external.

The way we compartmentalize our messiness is very telling. Not all of us thrive in a completely sterile environment – on the contrary; most of us feel the most at-home when there’s just a smidge of organized chaos in our lives. Whether it’s a closet filled with knick-knacks or a wallet littered with receipts, we all have our beautiful messes that give us a sense of comfort and ease.

For me personally, it’s my purse. Sure, I probably don’t “need” to carry around half of what I keep in there, but it gives me a sense of preparedness. I’ve tried to clean out my bag again and again, but gradually, my life finds its way back into that black bag. Maybe I like that visual reminder that “I already have everything I need.”

Clutter is one thing – complete disarray is another.

Clutter represents a very specific part of your psyche, the part that knows exactly who she is.
Disarray, in contrast, is a red flag for something deeper you’re not tending to.


Maybe it’s your relationship. Maybe it’s your health. Your apartment is in shambles, laundry everywhere and old mail scattered about the table; maybe you’re afraid to commit to the life you know you want to lead. And just like we detox with sweat or a bowl full o’ greens – when you start to clear away the toxins, you start to have breakthroughs in what formerly seemed like completely unrelated aspects of your life.

Spring cleaning isn’t just about picking up our crap, it’s about picking up the pieces we’ve let fall away. Spring cleaning isn’t just about scrubbing the floors, it’s about shining our souls.

Spring cleaning isn’t just about scrubbing the floors, it’s about shining our souls. Click To Tweet

A couple years back, I learned a lot about the difference between clutter and disarray: I moved into a loft with no closets. Instead of a closet, I got two studio-like clothing racks that literally brought everything out into the open. Even in my teeny-weeny NYC apartment now, there are spaces to stash and store. In the loft? It was all on display. Carrie Bradshaw would be horrified.

But something interesting happened when I moved into my nook-less nook: I got rid of the things that didn’t serve me, and I found places for the things that did.

Not coincidentally, I became a lot more clear about what I really wanted in my life.

 

not gonna lie, i miss this nook-less nook a whole hell of a lot.

 

It’s been almost a year since I said goodbye to that little closet-less loft space and made the leap into a tiny slice of The Big Apple. When we first moved in, friends here would marvel at how much storage space we had – a rarity in this city. But even 11.5 months later, it’s been a challenge to figure out how to use it the most effectively. To me, the space seems superfluous. It feels like an invitation to lose my cool and cling to lies.

Wouldn’t you know it, I still keep my stuff where I can see it.

~

Honestly, my giant black bag is still just as heavy as an eight month old – and because I’m commuting across the city on a train underground, I usually need to wear my backpack to hold my laptop et al (ps, you haven’t experienced clutter ’til you’ve been on the M at 7pm).

But as far as my apartment goes, when I wake up in the morning and come home at the end of the day, my space is filled with just the essentials. Beautifully organized in a way that suits my personality (think vintage catchalls and necklaces hanging on rods like wind chimes). I’m more easily pleased. I’m drawn to spend much more time at home. I can’t get enough of my space because it’s an extension of who I am.

 

a little nook-y nook at WANT HQ, NYC edition

 

If, like me, you keep your day bag more stuffed-up than Mary Poppins…if you have a drawer in your desk filled with eclectic knick-knacks and love notes…it doesn’t mean you’re untidy as much as it means that you’re human.

Allow your own little bit of organized chaos to exist – the chaos that serves you and reminds you of all you are.

The bits of disarray that remind you of all you are not? Do away with what no longer reflects who you are, and keep everything that does.

Make your beautiful mess. Clear the clutter. It’s spring cleaning for your soul.

 


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To The Goddess Unchained.

To The Goddess Unchained.

Body Community Love Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power Work
'When you're a powerful woman, you are a goddess unchained. And everyone will have something to say.' @katiehorwitch Click To Tweet

Dear beautiful woman,

Hi. It’s me. We haven’t met, but I feel like I know you. Scratch that – I know that I know you. And I don’t mean that in a pushy, I’ve-been-there-before-so-now-I-know-you-and-also-everything way. I mean that in the way that we all come from the same source, the same sisterhood, the same #rigged system that’s made us believe false truths throughout the ages that nothing we do will ever be enough.

I know you are struggling right now. With what, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s the job? The relationship status? The family or kids or lack thereof of both? As someone once said, “Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

But what I do know is this: your struggle is inflammed by the perceived expectations of the world around you.

~

To be kind, to be humble, to be gracious – to be boistrous, but not too much. To be soft, to be resilient, to be a leader, but not too much. To be heard, but not absorbed; to be wild, but at the same time tamed. This is the dichotomy of being a woman. Just a woman.

And to be a powerful woman – oh jeez! That is a task of itself, a dance more precise and more stress-sweat inducing than walking through eggshells. One misstep and the craaaaaaaaack of everything delicate below you rings loud in your ear. You must be bold. You must be brave. You must be a mind-reader and truth-teller but always know when and where your place is to say such things.

Success, you must learn, is relative. And success, you must say, is nothing but smoke and mirrors. But success, you must learn, is both the pinnacle of acceptance and the beginnings of lifelong critique. You are not kind enough, or humble enough, or gracious enough – or you’re boistrous, but way too much. No softness, too much resilience, too wild, too heard.

 

Because when you’re a powerful woman, you are a goddess unchained.
And everyone will have something to say.


I believe in you, lady. I believe in your grandness and your solitude, your quietness and your noise. I believe in the way you walk through the world, step by forceful step; the way you trip sometimes but always keep going. There are pebbles lodged in the soles of your shoes and dirt encrusted on the laces, relics from the places you’ve been and the things you have seen. Resist the urge to scrape them off. They belong there, they complete you – shoes were not meant to stay crisp and clean, in my opinion.

You have the answers you’re looking for, deep down. Whether they’ve made their way to the surface yet, TBD. You’re not supposed to wake up one day and know. But anyone who says they do or assumes the opposite is a liar.

Surprise, surprise: the hallmark of being a true adult is knowing that you will never know.

~

And so you, goddess unchained, you are grappling with the knowing and the not knowing and to that I say you’re doing it right. The world wants you to believe it expects you to know but all that is is a desperate plea to fill in the blanks. Blanks that are not yours to fill, blank spaces that aren’t meant to be filled in the first place.

But the last thing I want you to do, sweet friend, is get defensive and stew. How Dare They! How Dare This! The world is not conniving against you, the world just does not know. The world is a child, curious and stubborn. It’s wary of change. It wants to see what sticks. It wants to know what can be cuddled, and how hard, without being smothered. It wants to know what can be crushed, and how hard, without being broken. You don’t have to be the parent or sitter – but rather, the other curious child on the playground who is building sandcastles in the sand instead of eating it.

Nothing you do will ever be enough?
Everything you do is already enough, by the very nature that you’re doing it.


The world is reactive, so you must be proactive.

The world takes cues, so you must make your own.

I don’t want you to look down at the quicksand and say, How Dare They!

What I do want you to do is stand in the middle of the storm and exclaim with pride, How Dare I!

 


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WANTcast 028: On Fixing Others, Food Issues, Forgiveness + Feeling Fly As F**k (No Matter What) with Jessica Murnane of One Part Plant

WANTcast 028: On Fixing Others, Food Issues, Forgiveness + Feeling Fly As F**k (No Matter What) with Jessica Murnane of One Part Plant

Body Community Love the WANTcast Work

If you’ve been following along with WANT for a while, you’re probably already familiar with who I’m about to introduce you to – at the very least just because I talk about her all. the. time.

I'm fly as f*ck no matter what. - @jessicamurnanes Click To Tweet

Today’s guest is Jessica Murnanewellness advocate, podcast host, and creator of the One Part Plant movement. She’s the author of a brand new cookbook, One Part Plant, and the host of two wildly successful podcasts: One Part Podcast and The Cookbook Deal.

After being diagnosed with endometriosis and receiving a pretty crazy ultimatum from her doctors, Jessica decided to try overhauling her diet to see if she could heal herself naturally. Fast forward to today, and Jessica now has zero of those debilitating endometriosis symptoms and follows a full-on plant based diet.

If Jessica looks familiar, it might be because she’s been on WANT before. First in an interview, next on the tenth episode of the WANTcast, and then lots of guest appearances here and there as she’s become a dear friend and a person I feel is truly out there changing the world, on and off-line. In Episode 10, Jessica talked about her brand new cookbook deal, and we casually mentioned her coming back to do a “Part Two” episode…

WELP, little did we know how much could happen in just one year. I won’t ruin it for you, but I’ll just say her newest podcast’s subtitle is “Also, The Weirdest Year Of My Life.” That should say it all. I knew we’d have a lot of ground to cover, but what we ended up talking about most actually wasn’t the year or the cookbook – it was everything else in between. Her candor, humor, and heart are hallmarks of why her OPP peeps adore her so much…and why her cookbook became a #1 New Release on Amazon after only a day. A DAY.

One Part Plant is so much more than a cookbook – it’s a memoir slash self-help guide slash ode to all the reasons eating “one part plant” can enhance your life from the inside out. Think I’m exaggerating? Check it out here and we can start a little OPP cooking club from afar.

There's power in forgiveness. - @jessicamurnanes Click To Tweet

This episode’s title could have been the longest thing ever, because we truly covered so much good ground. In this episode we talk about caring about being “cool” vs just liking what you like, food issues and Jessica’s past with not just what put in her body but how she viewed her body, toxic relationships and the need to “fix” others, her relationship with her husband and what makes a healthy relationship in general (especially when you come from having body/food/fixer issues), the crazy way her new Cookbook Deal podcast panned out, asking for what you need personally, professionally, and financially, her beef with people who say they’re “too old” for things, the barometer to use when you’re deciding whether to say yes or no to a project…oh my goodness, I should probably just stop there so you can listen for yourself.

I’m honored to have her on the WANTcast again and pumped to see what she does next…

…oh, and just for some context: we begin this episode discussing something her husband does for her every year on her birthday: an eight-day lead-up entitled “Murnanukkah.”

WANT JESSICA:

Listen on iTunes | Play in new window | Download | Support the pod by shopping on Amazon via this link

My relationships are at their best when we both feel good about what we're doing. -@jessicamurnanes Click To Tweet

Show Notes:
Website
One Part Plant on Amazon
One Part Podcast
The Cookbook Deal
GOOD: A Wellness Festival (that we’ll both be speaking at – and holding a VIP workshop together!)
Tour dates
Instagram (and here!)
Facebook
Twitter
Terry Walters
Monana episode of Friends
Younger
EDNOS (or OSFED)
Me on One Part Podcast
All photos by Nicole Franzen

Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes (the more reviews, the more Jessica’s message is spread), share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!


Party Of One: Why You Should Embrace The Single State Of Mind

Party Of One: Why You Should Embrace The Single State Of Mind

Community Love

For most of my partnered-up adult life, Valentine’s Day was a bit like prom: lots of hype, tons of expectation, and kind of a let down once it happened. They felt extravagant or forced, like some sort of obligation I was supposed to be totally into but was only kind-of-sort-of invested in. Basically, the exact opposite of what all those cards and Sex & The City episodes told me February 14th should be like.

In contrast, my single-gal Valentine’s Days were a blast and a half. In high school I spent my freshman and sophomore years with red on my lips and hearts drawn on my fingernails (in black polish, but I digress), passing out glittery stickers and love notes to my friends between classes. My freshman year of college, my mom sent a basket of cookies and mini-muffins to my dorm, and later that evening we all went out to dinner at a janky strip-mall sushi place where the lighting was harsh and the laughter was plenty. As relationships came and went, a small part of me felt a little bit bummed that my Valentine’s Days had fallen prey to romantic involvement instead of a fun time with my single friends and family.

But wait…that’s backwards, right?

Shouldn’t the expression of love be about the fun, about the feeling and, most certainly, about doing things your own way?

This lesson, of course, is one I hadn’t learned yet.

~

We give a big heap of power to romantic relationships in our culture. So much power, in fact, that many times it can seem like our romantic relationships shouldn’t just dictate our overall happiness, but dictate our sense of self-worth. “Are you seeing anyone?” has become an oft-used tentpole in the basecamp of banal conversation, and way too often a single gal (or guy, because the urge to matchmake transcends gender) is viewed as ripe to be paired off. Even when we’re in relationships, the question isn’t so much about the whos and whys but the whats and whens. We’re told by pop songs, movies, TV shows, and magazines that being coupled is a means to an end, and there’s always a new end to strive toward.

Being single isn’t about not having a partner – it’s about being your own best teammate. Click To Tweet

We’ve all heard the cliché that “you need to love yourself before you can love others.” But it’s also true that loving yourself should never, ever, ever be about laying the groundwork for someone else to come and swoop in. Being single isn’t about not having a partner – it’s about being your own best teammate. It’s about reclaiming the word “single” and redefining it not as something negative or lacking, but as a state-of-mind you carry with you, whether you’re in a relationship or not. Just like being “taken” doesn’t mean you’re someone else’s property, being single doesn’t mean you’re up for grabs. The difference involves another person, but the common commitment should always involve the one you have to yourself.

Little disclaimer: I know couples who have been together since they were 16. My grandparents, aka living breathing heart-eye emojis, were high school sweethearts (granted, they each got married, then divorced, then found each other again later in life – so technically, they had a big old break in the middle of their romance, but still). There are a good number of couples out there who found their “person” early on in life and have created loving, open, equal partnership that’s lasted them a lifetime. And that’s beautiful.

But for most of us, that’s not the case. We experience a multitude of romantic relationships in our lives – both brief and prolonged – and therefore have a plethora of opportunities to check in and evaluate who we are when we’re going solo. Not all of us take these opportunities, but they are always there.

Without prolonged periods of time to ourselves – whether that be months or years – how can we ever develop that deep sense of self-knowledge that fuels our dreams? How can we hone the craft of fine-tuning our intuition and gut feelings so that no matter who or what comes along, we’re able to stay true to who we are at our core? By casting aside those moments, we’re sending ourselves the subconscious message that who we are alone is not enough.

Being single isn’t a relationship status, it’s a mindset. We each get to choose what that mindset means to us.

Think about it: What kind of stuff does the word “single” bring up for you? Is it along the lines of unlovable, incomplete, alone? Or rather, is it a sense of freedom, bravery, and fearless independence? The way we view our single self is ultimately how we will view our coupled self – in both our highest highs and our lowest lows. What a blessing it is to be able to experience both of these emotional extremes on our own, so that when another person comes along (if we should be open to them coming along, of course), we know for a fact that our love comes from a place of want, not need. We know that we want their love in order to enhance our life… not that we need their love in order to define it.

So, spoiler alert… I’m not single any more. And I haven’t been for a few years now. Bigger spoiler, I’m engaged. I know, I know… what kind of business do I have writing about singledom, then? Well – a lot. Because even though my fiancé most certainly has helped me open more windows and doors and sunroofs to my truest self than I can even express, he is NOT my crutch. Because I had a long (long) time before he came along to solidify my relationship with myself, so everything he has to offer is the best-ever cherry on top. Because honestly, the way I feel right now as my best self (in both my high and my lows) is almost exactly the same as when I was single. It was in that period of time that I committed over and over again to the most important relationship in my life – my relationship with myself.

These last few years have been the first time I’ve actually enjoyed Valentines Days in a long while – and it’s not because I’ve found “my person.” It’s because my Valentine’s Days have morphed back into what they were in the past: a day to celebrate love of all kinds. I wear red lipstick because I want to, I spend time with my friends because I love to, I call my mom and pass out stickers because it makes me happy. Sometimes I go out to a fancy dinner with my fiancé, sometimes we watch Friends reruns in our pajamas at 5 p.m. But no matter what, I make sure to reflect on how wonderful it feels to live my life on my own terms, and how grateful I am for that time I had sans partnership to figure out what those terms actually meant to me without the influence of someone else.

The times we have to ourselves are precious. We have our entire lives to be surrounded by other people in whatever capacity we choose, whether a lasting romance or a fleeting fling. If you’re single or recovering from a broken heart this Valentine’s Day, use this weekend to shower the people you love with love. Use this time to hone your single-gal mindset for the better. Friends and lovers will come and go. It’s a liberating feeling when you realize that the one constant in your life – yourself – is someone you’ve grown to love more than you though was possible. And that that person is not going away no matter what.

being single

On Loneliness.

On Loneliness.

Community Love Motivation + Inspiration

Lonely hits at the most unexpected times – in line at the bank, driving your car out of your garage into the sunshine of a Sunday morning. Propped up on your elbow on a half-made bed, listening to new music at 2 a.m. It comes when it’s quiet and you are not, or maybe when everything around you is vibrant and you tiptoe in, or when you look in your refrigerator and realize you need to buy something other than condiments and wine. Lonely is a disconnect, a conscious choice or a unexpected wave.

Lonely hits you when you look in the mirror and don’t recognize yourself like you used to. You’re a real live adult – when did that happen? Your hair does this wavy thing it never did before. There is something different in your eyes; what is it? Oh that’s it – it’s clarity, it’s vision, they are the eyes strained from holding themselves so wide open. It’s the look of time passed and dreams in flux and the realization that everything you want is not necessarily everything you need. It’s the body that’s changed shape by the day, week, year, decade, and the idea that even our own selves are not a constant.

Lonely is not a relationship status; lonely isn’t crowded or alone. Lonely is the aching for wide-open exchange, and no matter how many friends you have or how great your love life is or how perfect your job is, lonely is the confusion that sets in when you wonder, when you hold back, or when the external becomes a guise or overcompensation.

We can feel more lonely surrounded by others than when we’re in a room alone. The blocked energy and the questions, they suffocate and they hurt. Usually when we’re feeling lonely, we’re asking questions or holding back. Or holding out, really, because so much of our loneliness is based in the responses we’re hoping to get outside of ourselves.

And the tricky part is that lonely cannot be solved by being social, by going out, or by striking up a conversation. Lonely is vague. Lonely is living hazily, living in parentheticals and footnotes and swift asides and question marks lined up like window decorations. Lonely is what happens when you question the way you give. Lonely is love with nowhere to go.

Lonely is what happens when you ache to uplift; lonely is the first guest to arrive and the lingering last guest to leave. Lonely is the self-aware, the uncharacteristically quiet, the first two layers unpeeled instead of the whole dissected onion. Lonely is the song you try to sing; it’s wishing to sing and not getting the chance. It’s all of the trying and wishing, really. It’s missing your friend because you both evolved in different ways and just don’t relate any more, or it’s getting a solution instead of a shoulder. Lonely is that necklace that you wore so well, that’s now neglected because you just can’t get the tangles out – it’s the change that comes with time and the transience of life in general.

Healing from loneliness is…well, it’s tough. It requires immense courage, unabashed honesty, and a strong cocktail of selflessness and trust.

The opposite of loneliness isn’t just togetherness. It’s connection.

It’s care.

It’s love.

The opposite of loneliness isn’t just togetherness. It’s connection. Click To Tweet

We’re fighting loneliness when we ask the teller at the bank, with genuine interest, “How is your day going?” We’re fighting loneliness when we are feeling disconnected from our family or friends or significant other but tell them we love them anyway, without caring about the response or aching for reciprocity. We’re fighting loneliness when we take a lunch break and bring our coworker coffee just the way she likes it. We fight loneliness with little acts throughout the day of thoughtfulness and intimate authenticity.

When I start to feel lonely, different, sequestered in my own personal black hole, I have trained myself to become just a tad bit more expressive. Because that is the answer to a much bigger question than how to fight the temporary feeling of lonely: the question of what my soul really, truly wants and desires.

The one common thread between all of us is that we want to feel loved. So to battle my own loneliness, I shift gears and do what I can to make someone else feel loved. It makes me feel like my heart is in use; because lonely is my heart feeling stagnant. This is my way of courageously and effectively going about my quest for fulfillment, wholeness and connection on a soul level.

So go ahead, give your love somewhere to go. No alternate agenda or quest for reciprocity. Just a simple moment of care and connection; a fleeting one, even. Delete your footnotes and erase your parentheses. Show your care, own the person who is so uniquely you. Let it fill your heart as you fill the hearts of others. Trust it will. Heal your loneliness by reminding someone “You’re not alone. We’re connected. Let’s do this together.”




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a version of this was originally published in 2015 and has been edited throughout

From Zilla to Chill-a: What To Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed (…By The Good Things)

From Zilla to Chill-a: What To Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed (…By The Good Things)

Body Community Love Tips + Tools Work

Sometimes it can seem as if the world is out to get us; that when it rains it pours and when it’s sunny it’s blinding. General consensus was that 2016 was the former – and if you’re anything like me, the last month or so has been the latter.

It’s really easy to talk about being overwhelmed when you’re overwhelmed by hard things – but it’s harder to talk about overwhelm when all things are GOOD. Mainly because, well, our inner critic tells us there’s nothing to be overwhelmed about. Overwhelm, it says, is about NEGATIVITY. And there’s nothing negative happening here. Snap out of it.

I’m no stranger to enrolling myself into Camp Overwhelm, usually unknowingly. And many times, it happens when the most opportunities are at my feet. I end up feeling anxious, self-sabotage, and the cycle repeats. Or I just have a breakdown. Either or. (Insert half-smile emoji here.)

I’m getting better at it. The things that used to overwhelm me no longer do. I remind myself I’ve done this before, I’ll do it again, and this is just another one for the list. But as a self-proclaimed go-getter, I sometimes back myself into a corner of so much good I don’t know what to do with it. My mind instantly starts up with the negative self-talk. Jeez Katie. First world problems. You’re overwhelmed because you’ve got so much opportunity. Be grateful, why don’t you?? The voice gets louder and louder and I sink into shame from feeling like my overwhelm means I’m not appreciative or happy. Which, of course, makes me a whole lot less happy.

Part of the reason we get overwhelmed when too many good things happen is that we try to give everything our full attention all at once. Think of it like an overcharged phone or camera battery circa 1990something: just like if you’d leave your device plugged in for too long it would overheat, when we live life in a constant state of bouncing from one high-high to the next, we burn out.

But the bigger problem, and reason why a plethora of positivity can swiftly turn negative – is because negativity is the language we’re using all too often on a day to day basis. It’s so easy to creep into negative talk in positive moments – so easy, in fact, that you might not realize you’ve gotten into the habit of it until good things come your way. It’s the language we use, the way that we bond, the tool we break out when we feel alone or scared or hurt or unsure or even just ambivalent. We can’t expect to truly understand and accept the good moments if we haven’t been practicing the language.

We can't expect to truly accept the good moments if we haven't been practicing the language. Click To Tweet

When left unchecked, our first response to Goodness-Overwhelm can be to complain or retreat into self-sabotagey behaviors to subconsciously “balance things out”  (kind of like how we hold ourselves back when we think we’re only allowed to have one “thing” we’re good at…). You might even feel selfish or guilty about being overwhelmed in the first place. If I can’t handle the good, am I even WORTHY of it?

I always used to wonder why soonlyweds got so -zilla’d out over wedding planning, and now I understand why: when so much good comes your way, you sometimes don’t know where to start. When you’re faced with an impending new beginning – whether it be a marriage or move or career opportunity – the giddy anticipation combined with the things you need to (nay, WANT to) do can bring out the best and most grateful person in you…or the most anxious and insecure. Moreover, if you haven’t been actively keeping your language in check, internally and externally, the good can feel foreign. You’re going from one extreme to the other – and are in unfamiliar territory without even knowing it.

I’m not going to get into the multitudes of ways you can manage your negative self-talk – that’s what this site is for. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed, especially if the things making you overwhelmed are GOOD things, here are six simple strategies – three internal, three external – to help you proactively persevere through whatever whirlwind you’re facing:


• INTERNAL: SEPARATE THE EMOTION FROM THE SITUATION. 
The same rules apply when you’re dealing with overwhelm for positive reasons and negative or tedious reasons – because whether it’s a plethora of happy or aggravating things to focus your attention on, it’s still producing the same reaction. The difference is that when you’re overwhelmed with negative stuff, you’re more likely to force yourself to go a positive, proactive place. When you’re overwhelmed with positive stuff, it’s easier to pile on the guilt or negativity. Overwhelm isn’t a positive or negative thing – it’s just an emotional reaction to a situation at hand.

• INTERNAL: GET HONEST. Sometimes, overwhelm comes from the sheer amount of things occurring all at once…but sometimes, it goes a lot deeper. If you’ve got a lot on your plate, it’s time to skip to the next step. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed because you don’t think you deserve goodness or are afraid you’ll be disappointed, it’s time to recognize that. Are you overwhelmed because of the quantity of good things themselves – or because you don’t think you deserve them? Or do you secretly think it’s all too good to be true, and you might lose whatever has come your way? My friend Jen likes to say that “You can’t kill a good thing” – meaning that if something comes your way that is good, it’s yours for the keeping. Still skeptical? Read up on how to tackle Ghost Worries.

• INTERNAL: GET GRATEFUL. Oh jeez, you’re probably thinking. Another article on the internet telling me to be grateful for all the things I have. Hear me out for a sec. When I say “grateful,” I don’t mean flipping a switch to the warm and fuzzies. We cannot wait for gratitude to come. We must actively wedge the language of gratitude into our consciousness. And that doesn’t always feel warm and fuzzy. Gratitude starts by stepping outside your emotions and pragmatically recognizing the good things in our lives, which are all around you. Self-sabotage comes in when the positive things in our lives simply become tasks to check off a to-do list or burdens we feel we need to carry – basically, when we lose touch with how wonderful these individual instances actually are. Practice seeing wonderful things, even if it feels forced or contrived or doesn’t feel all that wonderful in the moment. Learning a new language isn’t about conversing right away – it’s about repeating single words over and over until they become second nature.

Gratitude starts by stepping outside your emotions + recognizing the good things all around you. Click To Tweet

• EXTERNAL: PRIORITIZE. After you’ve gotten real, gotten honest with yourself, and made gratitude a priority, get to prioritizing. Often times when we’re feeling overwhelmed, we’ll make decisions based on short-term relief instead of long-term success. Look at your day or week and compile a list of top to-dos. What is most important? What is most urgent? The things that are both important and urgent go at the top – they’re the things that matter most. What’s purely urgent (and not important) is usually reactionary and stress-inducing – skip them for now. We usually place so much importance on urgency we forget what is truly top-of-the-list material. Depending on your day, choose 3-5 top priority items, then draw a line and list the rest of your to-dos below that. Resist the urge to cross the line yourself (see below) until all the both-important-and-urgent items are taken care of.

Most importantly, do not be afraid to say no to as much as you need to. This might seem easy when your to-do list is filled with awesome things – but for some reason, we tend to over-extend ourselves OUT of that state of happy bliss way too often. When we’re overwhelmed and can’t see straight, we forget that the ability to say “no” and move forward, or just let certain things happen – not being a walking “yes” or people pleaser 24/7 – is the true sign of a leader who has things under control. And ps, who is able to enjoy the good things as they come her way.

• EXTERNAL: PICK YOUR PARTNERS. If you’ve ever read any sort of self-helpy article about busy-ness or overwhelm, you’ve probably learned by now to ask for help when you’ve got a lot to do. And it’s been repeated over and over again because it’s true: you simply cannot tackle every single thing in your life alone. Delegating tasks to others works. Loosening the reins of control over those things you don’t need to have a firm grasp upon (but need to get done) helps save your sanity and also forms a sense of camaraderie. A few suggestions: enlist those closest to you, visit TaskRabbit.com, and delegate at work so that you’re not leaving the office screaming every day.

But another important yet unexpected tip is to pick your celebration partners. Know who in your life you can call to talk you down from an anxious ledge and celebrate with you. Overwhelm is simply imbalance within a single individual. Help isn’t just needed when you’re in crisis mode – it’s needed when you’re celebrating, too. Whether it’s a friend or your significant other, know who you can turn to for support, laughter, high-fives, or pep talks when you feel your cup is about to runneth over. 

Help isn't just needed when you're in crisis mode - it's needed when you're celebrating, too. Click To Tweet

• EXTERNAL: TAKE YOUR TIME TO POWER THROUGH. All the positivity, planning, perspective, prioritizing, and partnering are nothing if there are not proactive steps made in a forward direction. Like the Nike ads say, just do it. But do it consciously. Treat the moment with the respect it deserves, not as a task you need to check off a list but a meaningful moment that is one of a kind. Take what I call “mental pictures” as you go, stopping to notice and note the details of when and where and how you are in the moment. Then take another step. Then another. Then another. It’s a tricky feat to balance savoring the moment and actually getting things done, but when achieved, it’s a surefire way to kick overwhelm to the curb.

When we’re overwhelmed, it can sometimes seem like the world is pitted against us, preventing us from accomplishing anything or feeling like we’re being the person we know we want to be. But you’ll find that once you start to show the world you’ve got things handled, once you start going, you start to realize that the sunshine is yours for the keeping.


WANT YOURSELF:
Have you ever had so many good things happen at once that you ended up feeling overwhelmed and anxious? How did you keep yourself in check and shift yourself out of a negative mindset? I’d LOVE to hear in the comments below…