Shut Up the Voice of Overwhelm

02/18/2015 11:50 am ET | Updated Apr 20, 2015
Refat Mamutov via Getty Images

I've aimed to build a business while working about 40 hours a week so I would have time for physical, relational, and spiritual health. But that doesn't mean setting time boundaries is always easy for me. On a daily basis, I have to combat the voices in my head that tell me "You are not working enough," "You are not successful enough," "You are not making enough," etc.....

Do you hear any of those voices? Or if you can't quite hear a voice do you sometimes feel an inexplicable sense of terror at the thought of actually taking time to relax or slow down?

If so, this exercise can lead to freedom for you. (It's a cliff notes version of concepts in "The Worry Free Life.")

  • Draw a line down the center of a piece of paper. Write "The Voice" at the top of the left column and "My Response" at the top of the right.
  • Start to write down all of the voices that you hear in your head in the left column. If they come out in the "I" form, rewrite them in the "you" form. For example: "I need to work all the time" should be translated into "You need to work all the time."
  • Writing these voices in the "You" form exposes them as an outside force negatively influencing you instead of you identifying with these voices as your own inescapable thoughts.
  • In the right column, respond to these voices using this formula:
  • For demands write: "Why should I (fill in demand)?"
  • For statements write: "So what if you think (fill in statement)?"
  • For questions write: "It's none of your business!"
  • If you want to take your counter attack one step further, after your first response, write down truths such as: "I have the ability to choose when I will work." and "I can succeed without working all the time."
I know this sounds funny, but it works! I'm in the midst of taking my time coaching and training business to the next level and releasing a new book with Harvard Business Review. This week, I've heard and fought off these voices of overwhelm in my head:

  • You are a loser.
  • You have to do everything at once.
  • You'll fall behind.
  • If you don't do everything at once that you can think of, you'll fall behind.
  • You're not good enough.
  • You're not working hard enough.
  • It all depends on you.
I recognized these lies and responded to them using the above technique and was able to stay focused and move forward with confidence.



What voices of overwhelm are tormenting you? It's time to tell them to shut up and cast them out with the truth!



About Real Life E®:
Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E® a time coaching and training company that empowers individuals who feel guilty, overwhelmed and frustrated to feel peaceful, confident and accomplished. She is an expert on achieving more success with less stress. Real Life E® also increases employee productivity, satisfaction and work/life balance through training programs.

Harvard Business Review just released her second book How to Invest Your Time Like Money. Elizabeth contributes to blogs like Lifehacker, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and the 99U blog on productivity for creative professionals and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox.