Overcoming Overwhelm – A Delicate Balancing Act
by jane arie baldwin
“I have all the space I need to express myself fully.”
I’ve been dealing a lot this week with feeling overwhelmed. It’s an old feeling that has waned in familiarity over the last few years. Yet the closer I get to the heart of the story I am writing; the more contracted I can sometimes feel.
A part of me wants to play the victim. I really want to write but I haven’t got the time. How am I supposed to write when there are bills to pay, letters to be written, calls to make, addresses to be changed, and things to buy to become more organized?
Feeling overwhelmed and embodying the victim are old, old MO’s. They are familiar terrain for the women in my family. These feelings and ideas have traveled successfully through my female lineage for many generations. My mom felt it, her mom felt it, her mom’s mom, and I suspect on down the line a few hundred generations.
There is a huge element of unworthiness involved. This feeling of unworthiness, I’m sure, is a huge part of the reason I make copious lists (I have a slight addiction to the new iPhone Reminder app). I’m not saying that’s bad and I’m not saying I’m going to stop making lists. I’m connecting to a feeling that happens when I check things off my list and still can’t feel complete or feel like I had a successful day.
When I’m in this feeling I stop breathing. That slave driver voice of unworthiness comes in and tells me that taking time to breathe and enjoying getting the list done are frivolous distractions to the task at hand.
It’s not about making the lists or not making lists. It’s the feeling that, “I am not enough” and my day does not have a shiny gold star on it unless I have done what I intended to do for that day. Meanwhile, my brain is wrapped all around trying to break this multi-generational cycle of feeling unworthy and NOTHING IS GETTING WRITTEN! Then I feel REALLY unworthy.
Creative writing requires a whole different side of the brain and side of the being than the list making. There is a subtle interplay between me doing the writing and me allowing the story to surface from the depths of my being, my experiences, and my subconscious. This interplay requires finesse. It requires concentration in a way that is not focused on doing something to get it done. The more I focus on the enjoyment of it, whether its writing or completing tasks, the more movement there is – paragraphs get written and to-dos get done. This interplay can also be described as masculine (doing) and feminine (being). Indeed it is a balance, learning to balance the masculine and the feminine within my being.
So it happened that yesterday I went to see sweet Barbara for acupuncture. She picked up quick on my emotional imbalance as I struggled with feeling overwhelmed. Barbara immediately suggested a mantra. She said I had to come up with the words that I needed to hear.
The word space popped into my head. I wanted to feel more space, more expansion. Then the word express came into view. Without hesitation I said, “I have all the space I need to express myself fully.”
A slight change in the temperature of the room was accompanied by a calm that said, “You can do this.” I felt safe. I felt supported. I felt loved…by myself.