When it all piles up: Confessions, breathing, and space-taking

Just a few moments ago, I realized that my inbox is creeping up toward 1,000 messages (again). Unsorted. Many unread. I recognize that I’ve unsubscribed myself from a number of blogs and newsletters to try and stop this behavior (confession: I’ve added others). I wanted to get in the habit of reading my emails, responding as needed, then filing or deleting.

This is only about 1/3 of the tabs... not to mention the links I've already sent myself via email.
This is only about 1/3 of the tabs… not to mention the links I’ve already sent myself via email.

Best laid plans.I don’t recall when I had it down to 25-ish in my inbox. But, it’s ballooned back up, and I wonder what I want to do about it. I think about going through all of it, sorting and deciding, and reading…. wondering where the time to do that will come. I think about most mornings, when I get up, see my emails, and click on “read,” simply so I don’t see the looming red dot by my Email app. And yet, it just exacerbates the problem.

While we’re at it, can we also talk about how out of control my tabs in my phone’s browser are? I started an email to myself listing some of the URLs, because I have amazing friends who post really interesting things, and, confession: I don’t always take the time out of my FB scrolling to read the article in depth. So I push it out to my web browser for later reading that never comes.

And, to keep the ball rolling, there are also the amazing blogs I used to follow and stopped around the time that Google Reader left us (RIP Google Reader). And I really want to start reading (and commenting) on blogs again. But, there’s a part of me that feels I need to read from when I stopped (in June/July) through now. (And, I’m still looking for a RSS feed that works for me.)

enter really deep breath here

Confession: I see how all of doing, list making, piling on all the shoulds and that must-dos makes me anxious.

Confession: I see how I hold tightly to the expectations I have for myself of what MUST be done and what makes me “good person.” (As though somehow, all of this – and the ability to complete it all – is tied to my self-worth.)

Confession: I’ve run myself ragged in my life playing by these rules and by these expectations. And the anxiety keeps me in a place of shame, guilt, and feeling tired all of the time. (All that anxiety revs up our body’s flight-or-fight responses and keeps one on high alert.)

another deep breath

Reality: I only have so many hours in a day. Amidst that, I have to ask myself what is humanly possible? (Confession: I often have to reframe it to say what would I tell a friend if s/he saw my own list of to dos and what would I say.)

Reality: I needn’t do it all, right now. I needn’t be perfect. I needn’t be everywhere. I am able to engage and withdraw as I need to – because there are a lot of other reality factors I need to consider.

Reality: Whether I post, comment, read… none of that is tied to my self-worth as a human being.

Confession: I sometimes have a hard time believing that last reality for myself.

deep breath… let it out…

Today, I will accept where I am.
I will allow myself to have a growing inbox and a huge list of blog posts to read and multiple browser tabs open of things that caught my interest.
I will allow myself curiosity and not berate myself for unfinishedness.
I will breathe into the places that scream for space.
I will breathe into the parts of myself that continually play the “must-should-DO-IT” tape.
I will allow reality and heart guide me.

What is your go-to response when you’re feeling overwhelmed?

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8 thoughts on “When it all piles up: Confessions, breathing, and space-taking

  1. *hugs* I really like your affirmations. Deep breaths and looking to how I can break things down into smaller doable pieces are a couple of the ways I deal with feeling overwhelmed.

  2. I take a deep breath and audit – starting again fresh where I am. I don’t have a blog feed solution, which is why I haven’t posted one, but I have made the regular reads into bookmarks, so I just go and visit them instead of having email reminders, which then wind up getting lost in the shuffle.

    I do try to prioritize emails I know I have to get back to by starring them. Lately, a rule (I sometimes apply and sometimes don’t, but it’s helpful when I do) I use is to go into email and go straight to “flagged” and nail down 3-5 of those, so I can then look at other email and feel I have gotten something done…

    But as you point out so eloquently – it is not just the whats/hows it’s the whys/pressure on ourselves to be perfect in this way, just like in every other way.

    • Oh, I love this reminder that it’s always possible to start fresh again. (As much as I have heard it… and fully believe it… I tend to forget it.)

      I love the email thoughts. It’s interesting to think about how I dealt with things slightly differently when I wasn’t on a smart phone, and the ways that’s changed my email habits.

      It has been an interesting journey to recognize the fact that’s the overwhelm is as much about how I’m viewing it (and what I believe it’s telling me about myself) as it is about the list and expectations themselves.

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