by Lori Milner, author, entrepreneur, thought leader and founder of Beyond the Dress
In our technologically driven world, we become more and more dependent on technology for everything. My go-to app for driving is Waze. Even if I know the route, I refer to it to view the quickest way by traffic flow, anything to scrape even those precious 5 minutes off the commute. Now have you ever scrolled ahead on the screen to look and see where its taking you. You then get a screen that looks something like this…with a big Re-centre message.
What struck me is how often during the course of our day, do we try look ahead, plan, forecast to get us there using the quickest ‘route’? And the more we try living in the future, the more it removes us from the present moment and we need a way to ‘re-centre’ and focus again. So here are some tips I have collected through my experience and the experience of others on how to gain control back when we feel overwhelmed.
Morning pages and journaling
Julia Cameron created the concept in her book ‘The Artists Way’ in 1992. Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page...and then do three more pages tomorrow. Writing out these three pages enables you to take your anxiety or whatever thoughts are occupying head space and "trap it on the page" so you can go about your day with a clear and positive mind. Brain-sweep complete, it's time to get on with the day.
Ask yourself ‘How can I appreciate this as a gift?’
I came across this on a podcast by Tim Ferriss. He spoke about a conversation he had with Tony Robbins and asked him this same question ‘What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?’. Very simply, Tony asks himself, ‘How can I appreciate this as a gift?’.
This is to be used when you’re frustrated, or when things happen which you might normally look at as a problem (like missing a flight). It helps reduce the overwhelm and stay focused on the positive of any situation.
So, meditation, or mindfulness practice, it's about, to me, decreasing emotional reactivity so you can proactively create your day and create your life; versus, just reacting aimlessly to what comes your way.
In other words, you're sitting on your couch or the floor watching the sensations in your body, in such a way that you're observing your body and your mind's reaction. So, perhaps over time, rather than flying off the handle and getting angry at someone for a, b, and c infraction … there's that little moment between what they do and your response and you're able to "Oh … I see myself getting tight in the chest. I'm about to get angry. Let me pause. And then give a more rational reaction." Where you actually get the result you want, instead of the conflict that might be very gratifying for a second then creates a whole host of other issues for yourself. And for those people who are wondering where to start … there are many ways to start. But I really think the simplest place is an app called "Headspace” or “Insight Timer”. You can also look for more focused practices around self-compassion and self-forgiveness at www.jackkornfield.com
“Am I rehearsing my best self?”
This quote is from Adam Robinson from the NY Times Bestseller Tribe of Mentors. Adam is an American educator, freelance author, and a US Chess Federation life master.
When I am feeling unfocused, the first question I ask myself is, “Am I rehearsing my best self?” And if the answer is no, I ask myself how can I reset. Each day presents us with 86,400 seconds, which means each day presents us with virtually countless opportunities to reset, recover our balance, and continue rehearsing our best selves. If I realize my focus is off, and certainly when I’m experiencing any negative emotions, I ask myself, “Where should my attention be right now?” Almost always, the answer is “my mission,” which is like a beacon that always beckons. But sometimes I take on too many commitments and when that happens, rather than attempting to do everything badly, I ask myself ‘What activity or commitment can I cut right now that will free up the most time?
Here’s to reclaiming your focus and reducing the overwhelm.
LORI MILNER is the engaging facilitator, thought leader and mentor known for her insightful approach to being a modern corporate woman. Her brainchild, the successful initiative Beyond the Dress, is the embodiment of her passion to empower women. Beyond the Dress has worked with South Africa’s leading corporates and empowered hundreds of women with valuable insight on how to bridge the gap between work and personal life. Clients include Siemens, Massmart, Alexander Forbes, Life Healthcare Group, RMB Private Bank and Unilever to name a few. Lori has co-authored Own Your Space: The Toolkit for the Working Woman in conjunction with Nadia Bilchik, CNN Editorial Producer. Own Your Space provides practical tools and insights gleaned from workshops held around the world and from interviews with some of South Africa’s most accomplished women to provide you with tried-and-tested techniques, tips and advice to help you boost your career, enhance your confidence and truly own your space on every level. Own Your Space is the ultimate ‘toolkit’ to unleash your true power. It’s for the woman who wants to take her career to new heights and who is ready to fulfil her true potential.
Read more articles by Lori...