Rethinking Overwhelm

I was listening to the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast with Amy Porterfield and she recently had a guest named Ed Mylett, who has written a book called The Power of One More. I had never heard of Mr. Mylett but his book quickly went onto my to-read list. In the interview, he through out a new way to think about the feeling of overwhelm that I had never heard before but it really resonated with me. This post is dedicated to that idea.

The question that was posed specifically relates to overwhelm and goals. Why is it that we feel overwhelmed when we try to achieve a goal we have set for ourselves? Mylett says, “When you feel overwhelm, what’s happening is, the results you’re trying to process are higher than your identity level.” The feeling of overwhelm (and feelings of fear, anxiety, a scarcity mindset, imposter syndrome) are directly related to your identity, or what you feel you deserve in life.

“Your identity is the thoughts, concepts, and beliefs you hold to be most true about you,” says Mylett. “It is like a thermostat sitting on the wall of your life. It sets the temperature. So, let’s just take financial success. You’re a 75-degree-er in your own worth and now you’ve got all the tools and the skills you’ve been learning…and it feels overwhelming! It’s you trying to turn on the air conditioner of your life, and cooling it back down to what you believe you deserve. You’re not overwhelmed. You’re creating that emotion because you’re starting to exceed your identity.”

I have realized recently that I have a fear of success. It seems crazy to me that I would be afraid of succeeding when I know that I really want to succeed, but Mylett’s metaphor of the air conditioner makes so much sense to me. When I am pushing myself to take my life to the next level, that’s when I quit. That’s when I find excuses, or fall into depression, or self-sabotage in a myriad of ways, because I don’t believe that I deserve all the things I want.

Mylett continues, “And so, there’s two parts to success. You’ve got to learn the tools and tactics of success and you’ve got to learn to increase your identity simultaneously because you will never long-term exceed your internal identity. You will eventually turn the air conditioner on and cool it right back down. It will seem coincidental, too. ‘My car broke down. This account fell through. I had to loan someone some money.’ It’s not coincidental, it’s the air conditioner of your unconscious mind cooling your life back down.”

So how do we overcome this obstacle? Mylett gives a few ways, but my favorite is this. He tells the story of meeting self-help guru Wayne Dyer years ago when Dr. Dyer was writing the book The Power of Intention, and Dr. Dyer gives him some advice. He said, “Never link your confidence to your ability to do something, because you’ll be chasing that all your life. It’s a tail you’ll never catch. Link your confidence to your intentions.”

If you intend to succeed, and you create space in your life and in your identity for that success, you will create the success you are looking for. You may not be confident in your skills at this moment, but you can be confident in your intention, and that intention can open your identity to bigger and bigger possibilities. That space can give you some room to breathe, to let go of the feeling of overwhelm, and allow you to step into your intentions, into your new identity, and into the success you deserve.

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