Stop, Look, Listen
Ever felt like your life is about weaving a fabric and events seem to keep unraveling what you just made? To me, that’s the definition of being overwhelmed. The chaos of too much to do in too little time can get us in a frenzy of reacting, rather than being in control.
What to do first is the decision we’re after. Sometimes we decide. Then we decide again.
Later hindsight tells what the decisions should have been. Why is hindsight better?
At times of chaos, we’re off balance. We get stuck in our heads. Our heads and our experience try to interrupt, but they’re more noise in the middle of too much. When the situation is over, hindsight brings all three together to look at what we did. Decisions are clearer when we calmly bring all of ourselves to them.
Getting Unstuck: Clear Thoughts During Chaos
One way to bring calm to chaos is simply getting out of where we’re stuck. I learned this from No Enemies Within, a book by Dawna Markova. (It’s unfortunately out of print. Still if you can find a copy I highly recommend it.)
- Put the problem, issue, or overwhelming pile of work out of your mind.
- Get in touch with where you are on the planet. Think about who you are, the geographic location you’re in, the people in your life.
- If you can move to a place where you can see things not made by people, such as trees and sky, go there. This step is optional, but it adds immeasurably if you can make it happen.
- Check in with all of your senses in a deliberate way. Take a few minutes to record mentally what each sense is picking up. Go through them one by one exhausting the possible options to fill in each blank.
- Right now, I can see _____. (the window I’m looking out, the sky, the lake, the harbor, the empty docks, the lights, the trees, the water moving . . .)
- At this moment, I feel _____. (my feet on the floor, my jeans on my legs, the softness of my sweater, the hair on my face . . . )
- I can hear _____ . (the cars on the road below, I can hear the blower on the a/c, I can hear, the noise of the chair as I shift my weight . . . )
- I can taste or almost taste _____. (the coffee I’m drinking, I can almost taste the lake air . . . )
- I smell _____. (the flowers on the table, the coffee . . . )
Be sure to consider and explore each of your senses until you’ve really gotten fully back into yourself.
Getting in touch with who we are, where we are, what we’re physically doing gets us back in balance. Stress lifts. Anxiety is relieved by perspective. Noise becomes information or fades away. We’re no longer stuck in one angular view. Empirical data centers us in the universe and in ourselves. We bring a sense of ourselves to sorting chaos . . . head, heart, and purpose focused together.
How do you still yourself so that you can move forward?