Being an emotional overwhelmed entrepreneur can be an uncomfortable norm for many. In this article, I’m going to uncover why you feel you have overwhelming emotions for no reason, and tell you 5 effective tips to help you keep momentum going.
Why are you feeling so overwhelmed?
First, let’s get clear on what overwhelm is.
Overwhelm is a feeling like there’s too much going on and you’re not coping. You know, the never-ending to-do list and knowing there’s just not enough hours in the day.
To clarify, there is an aspect of positive overwhelm, where you’re overwhelmed with joy etc, but for the sake of this article I’m going to refer to our more common association with overwhelm and that’s when emotions overwhelm to the point of not coping.
On top of general feelings of overwhelm, there’s emotional overwhelm. When you’re feeling overwhelmed it can be from a logical “I’m feeling overwhelmed, there’s not enough time” space. But, it can also be feeling overwhelmed emotionally, which often brings on thoughts of “I can’t cope, this is all too much”.
Being overwhelmed with emotions can cause fatigue and exhaustion. It comes from a place of giving more than you can receive and you can’t recharge. Sometimes this leads to anxiety, depression, burnout and can cause you to become emotionally numb as a coping mechanism.
When you’re starting-up or stuck in business, the feelings that you can’t cope can become so overwhelming that they paralyse you.
You know you have all these things you need to do, but the enormity of the situation and the lack of a clear next step forward, means you find you don’t do anything in the day. You’re left feeling like you’re wasting your time and the guilt creeps in.
When you have overwhelming emotions for no reason
You’re not daft, you know life isn’t a straight line, there’s ups and downs. But what do you do when you have overwhelming emotions for no reason?
Well the answer is that emotional overwhelm is rarely, if ever, for no reason. If you’re at the stage where you’re overwhelmed for no reason then I’d suggest it’s more about self-awareness and pushing things down. This kind of goes back to feeling emotionally numb.
When you’ve felt emotional, overwhelmed and stressed for so long, you can learn to cope by pushing things down, packing them away in a corner of your mind and shutting the metaphorical door on them. Yet, those thoughts and feelings don’t go anywhere.
You may be coping on a surface level but just under the surface, the emotion and overwhelm are bubbling away. It’s at that point the smallest thing happens (which can be as little as dropping a teaspoon) and suddenly your feelings overwhelm you for no reason.
Being overwhelmed by emotions
Ok, so you’ve dropped the teaspoon, so to speak, and you’re being overwhelmed by emotions seemingly out of nowhere – but why?
Well, it was explained to me, in therapy, some years back as a very helpful visual.
Imagine your life is a bottle. When you’re born, depending on how you entered the world, your bottle is empty. As you go through life things happen, and as these things happen your bottle gets filled with ‘stuff’. The stuff is the experiences, mainly negative, that you put away at the back of your mind and just store.
Now, I’m not keen to jump into labelling this stuff as trauma (whether we’re talking about Trauma [the BIG stuff] or trauma [the ‘smaller’ stuff]) because sometimes the beliefs and labels we give ourselves don’t come out of traumatic experiences.
Having emotions dismissed, misinterpreting a request, an angry tone of voice received on a bad day – can all contribute to the way we see our place in the world, our self-image and beliefs about ourselves.
This is especially true as children and young adults, believing that an outburst from an adult at us, means that there’s something we’ve done wrong, or that we are wrong. Rather than a more emotionally educated interpretation, that the adult is probably having a bad day and they’re misdirecting their anger at us rather than because of us.
Ok, so back to the bottle.
- your parents tell you off for the first time, you don’t understand what you’ve done and believe something is wrong with you (kids do this a lot!) – This is added to your bottle of ‘stuff’.
- Your parents divorce while you’re a child
- Someone dies
- You get a bad grade at school when you’re ‘the smart one’
- You get bullied by other kids
All of these things start to fill that bottle up. As an adult, you’ll get more big and small stuff added to that bottle.
Everything seems to be going well, you’re coping, until one….small…thing…. is enough to drip the last bit of stuff into that bottle and it starts to overflow.
You find old stuff bubbling up, you start crying for no reason, emotional, overwhelmed, and confused. Why have you got all these overwhelming emotions for no reason?
Well, it’s not for no reason.
It’s because your bottle is full and has started to overflow – you have no more capacity. You can experience this as anxiety, depression, numbing, burnout and exhaustion from holding it all in for so long.
What to do when you’re overwhelmed with emotions?
When you’re feeling overwhelmed with emotions, it’s important to take a step back and take care of yourself. Here’s my 5 easy tips to keep momentum:
1. Identify where you feel the overwhelm
Spend some time writing down all the things that are overwhelming you. Quite often getting things out of your head and onto paper can help relieve the feeling of overwhelm.
Look through your list and identify where you feel the most overwhelmed and prioritise that.
2. Make it more manageable
Take the big task, or chunk of work you need to do, and break it down into smaller options. I find working backwards can be easier than working forwards.
- In other words – look at the task you need to complete and think to yourself “if task Z was complete, then I would have had to have done task Y. In order to do Y, I need to do X. Before X I need to look at W, and so on”
- By working backwards, your mind is assuming it’s already done – this can take the pressure off your mind trying to work out how to get from A to Z, and allows the steps or solutions to appear more easily.
3. Ask for help
It can be so easy to keep plodding along, blinkers on and forgetting that there are people, resources and opportunities out there to help you. Overwhelm doesn’t need to be your default state if you learn to ask for help or delegate.
Looking at your list from before – where are you most stuck?
Do you need help with personal stuff, house stuff, or work stuff?
If it’s personal stuff – then managing your time more efficiently may help if you’re the only one that can do a task. Time blocking can be a great way to focus your mind on doing one thing and doing it well.
House stuff – is there anyone else in the house you can delegate to? Yes, they may not do it as perfectly as you’d like, but they can learn to do it and you can learn to let go 😉 )
Work stuff – being an entrepreneur can be a very lonely journey. When you’re overwhelmed with the amount you need to do then maybe it’s time to delegate.
Freelancers, or a virtual assistant, can help you manage the more day-to-day repetitive tasks, freeing you up to be doing the things you love.
Be aware that sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know.
That’s to say, that sometimes it’s getting tangled with all the tech that stops you. Maybe it’s not knowing what the next steps are and confusion overwhelms and paralyses you?
Maybe it’s a core belief or mindset block that leaves you feeling that you’re not worth your prices, can’t earn ‘that much’, or a fraud.
One thing that shines through all the conversations I have with my clients, is that being an entrepreneur is the biggest self development journey you’ll ever go on. You are your business, so if you haven’t got your head in the right place it’s going to hold you back.
There’s a reason you’ll hear a lot about self care in the online business world, and that leads back to what I just mentioned. You ARE your business.
If you’re not looking after yourself and prioritising your emotional, physical, mental and energetic needs then your business will reflect that. You can avoid being overwhelmed with emotions by allowing yourself time to rest and recharge, which will help you feel more emotionally resilient.
What lights you up? brings a smile to your face? fills you with joy?
These things are the antithesis of overwhelm in the context that we’re talking about here – so let joy in.
Be child like, have wonder, and freedom.
Walk through a forest, wiggle your toes in the sand and splash through the sea. Paint because you want to move the colour around the canvas… not to create anything.
Express yourself in ways that lift you up. Do something that’s just for joy, nothing else.
5. Celebrate your wins
Being able to appreciate your successes, no matter how small, is an important practice to develop as an entrepreneur.
It’s all too easy to achieve a goal, tick it off the list and move on to the next thing – in a never ending journey of to-dos.
There will always be more to do, create or be, but if you don’t stop to acknowledge and celebrate your achievements you’re going to feel like you’re on a hamster wheel.
This hamster wheel feeling, wipes you of enthusiasm and joy, and is a wonderful breeding ground for being reactively emotional, overwhelmed and burning out.
If you have a big goal you want to achieve, set yourself a prize that you’ll get yourself when you achieve it.
Make that first goal small enough to achieve, but big enough that it’s worth the effort.
You may need to train your mind to start celebrating your successes – but it’s a habit that will set you up for continued fulfilment in your work.
The emotional overwhelmed entrepreneur – enlightened
So you see, if you are an emotional, overwhelmed entrepreneur, you now know that this doesn’t have to be your norm. Being able to identify the source of the overwhelm is a great first step.
Finding the right people to help you through the overwhelm and on to find a sense of clarity and peace, will open you up to so many possibilities.
I’m here if you’re a start-up looking to set up your service-based business, or you’re stuck spinning your wheels and looking to get some traction.
I help you ‘empty your bottle’ using hypnotherapy, so you can feel calmer and more peaceful. Coach you through finding your next best steps to create alignment with your business. Clearly guide you through the tech hurdles, empowering you to create with confidence. Supporting you through the wobbles and celebrating your success.
When you’re ready to be supported and guided to find your way forward just send me a message by clicking the link below