I was talking at an event in London and my talk was on "Your Wake Up Call".
My opening line was"Overwhelm is a choice".
A girl listening to me who sat in the front row suddenly burst into tears.
I realised right there and then, this issue that had single handedly brought my life to a standstill wasn't just my issue, it was much more widespread than that.
My job isn't to make people cry, but it is to wake people.
Wake them up to the reality that when we feel stressed and overwhelmed, we pretty much cause most of this to ourselves.
Five years ago, I was flying high. I had a 6 figure corporate career, owned my own company, my own beautiful home, I owned other homes, I travelled the world and was able to buy anything I wanted.
I'd spent almost 20 years building this life up. The life that I always wanted. Wasn't it?
So when I woke up one day unable to move, its only then that I realised something was up.
In my head I felt absolutely fine, but my body was telling me "nope, today we don't get up".
I had come across the 21st century issue. Busy. Do. Have.
All created by me. No one else made me do all of this.
So I had no choice but to give it all up, and that meant everything I'd spent my life building.
My earnings stopped as I was self-employed, my relationships suffered and the life literally drained out of me.
Surely I saw or felt this coming right?
The truth is that I probably knew that my life was totally out of alignment. I probably knew I was doing too much. I probably knew that I had to make some changes.
But when you're in the moment of living every day to the absolute max, there's no time for reflection, there's no time for slowing down and there's no time to realise that you can't carry on living this way.
In the West, we reward success. And that success very often looks like one person creating something or building something. Then them getting rewarded financially or with status or power for it.
We get told to "try hard" from an early age. Success comes through hard work right? We have to have our nose to the grindstone every day to even pay our bills.
The issue with doing this alone is we can't always see what is happening when things are starting to unravel.
If I speak to the people closest to me at the time, I can guarantee they would have been able to see what was happening to me.
In other cultures, teams and families are the way they live and work. In China for example the family have a shared bank account that they pay into and draw from.
Westerners seem to have built a culture of competition, comparisons, individuals being rewarded and masculine energy leadership.
The shoulder pad generation (think Margaret Thatcher) was women acting like men, and those women were rewarded for that.
And my own journey was the tail end of that. I could do, be and have anything a man was able to.
Through five years of my own often painful journey since my burnout, I've realised that success means something very different in my life now.
Success is running a business that I love and am super passionate about, it is helping lead other people to lead their own life in a different way, it is having amazing relationships, it is working the hours of choice and doing the things I love like travelling and writing.
The alignment piece of this - or the thing that seems to wrap around all of this is something called feminine energy self leadership.
This is where we acknowledge the actual strengths that an individual brings to the table. Feminine energy strengths such as active listening, empathy and the ability to get multiple things done quickly are all key parts of what we need to recognise and reward.
So what does this look like in reality?
It means having clear boundaries, it means the ability to say no (and yes to the things you actually want to do), it means not being afraid to show your powerful side, it means taking time out for you, it means living your life from a place of passion and purpose.
Looking back, when I was in the worst place with overwhelm, I may not have heard any of this!
I needed someone to grab me by the shoulders and tell me that it didn't have to be this way. I needed someone to tell me that I'd become part of the problem. I actually enjoyed the busy life I'd built, I enjoyed the distractions, I enjoyed the buzz of juggling and I had chosen every single part of it.
Maybe you recognise this in your best friend or your partner? You may also recognise this in yourself?
If this past year has given you more space to know that your life pre-pandemic was a hot mess and you're dreading going back to that life, then maybe this is the perfect aligned time to make that change you're desiring?
The issue with overwhelm is you're already overwhelmed. I totally get it. Adding more to your plate just increases that. You feel like you can't take another thing so why would doing more help?
The beauty of this is you just need to ask yourself 2 questions.
It becomes as simple as that (if you desire it).
Ask yourself these 2 questions daily:
Am in in Alignment today? Are my thoughts, my behaviours and my actions going to help me get the result I desire?
Am I showing up with Intention? When I'm working, am I fully present and when I'm at home, am I showing up there or am I doing all of the things well half of the time? How could I show up with more intention today?
Rather than feeling like driftwood at sea being pulled by the tide, the moon or the direction of the wind you'll find by asking yourself these two questions (you could add them into your phone as a reminder), you'll suddenly feel much more powerful and in control of what matters to you.
You'll have more time as you've said no to more things, which lets you say yes to the things you actually want to do. You've set clear boundaries so that visit to the in laws happens once a month rather than adhoc, you're showing up fully present at work and at home which has improved your relationships and you've aligned your thoughts, feelings and actions to the desires you have in life.
Know that you're not alone if you feel this way. Using these 2 simple questions gives you that power back within your life.
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