One particularly hectic day/week at work I was feeling the pressure and my emotions were fraying.
My colleague noted my frenetic state and copped the list in response. You know the list. When you start rattling off *everything* that needs to be done and it becomes more overwhelming the longer you talk.
Psychologists would call it “catastrophising”. Making everything dire and disastrous in our minds. Speaking a “worst case scenario” narrative using negative and defeatist language. We do it for sympathy. We do it to try and make sense of why we feel so out of control.
But my colleague totally pulled me up with his response. He waited until I got to the end of my list and said “yeah, but you love all those things!”
You love all those things.
He was right. I did. I do! Everything on that list was part of a job I love, for a cause I believe in, for people I care for, using my skills and passions, for the joy and benefit of others.
Something shifted for me in that moment. I didn’t get any less busy – but my posture to the busyness changed. The heightened emotion was deducted from the equation which freed some brain and heart space to more effectively apply myself to the tasks at hand.
I love all those things! I love what I do and what I do it for.
That was a few years ago now and I can honestly say I haven’t been overwhelmed by my workload since. That’s not to say I haven’t had patches of being crazy busy. But each time I feel the pressure building and the tension rising, I hear that statement again – “but you love those things!”
The brain is a powerful muscle. Our thoughts and internal dialogue are significant in determining our emotional well-being, stamina and capacity.
Give it a try. Next time you feel that familiar rise in tension remind yourself “I love these things!” Sometimes you’ll need to dig deep to find the love – to move beyond the task itself to its bigger purpose. But once you find it, you might just find the space to take a deeper breath and power on more effectively.