How to Quit Self-Inflicted Overwhelm

Do you go through each day constantly feeling overwhelmed and you don’t know why?

Overwhelm in your life can be caused by external factors, such as traumatic life experiences that you cannot predict or prevent. However, your overwhelm may be coming from behaviours that are absolutely within your control and by making some simple changes, you have the power to eliminate overwhelm from your life. In this episode, we will break down the five bad habits, that you may be guilty of, that are leaving you in a chronic state of self-inflicted overwhelm and ultimately impact on your ability to think and act rationally.

In this episode:

00:58 – Introduction

02:37 – Overwhelm: Identifying the bad habits

04:24 – One: Stop being a YES person

12:33 – Two: Stop living in chaos

16:35 – Three: Don’t believe everything you tell yourself

23:18 – Four: Holding onto the past

27:52 – Five: Stressing about the future

30:22 – Conclusion

Episode Transcription

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  00:10

Hey, it’s Dr. Marisa Lee Naismith here, and I’m so honoured to be sharing today’s solo round episode with you learn how to increase your levels of focus, productivity, confidence, energy, and feel fulfilled in every area of your life. Because as singers, our whole body is our instrument and our instrument echoes how we feel physically, mentally and emotionally. So don’t wait any longer, take charge and optimise your instrument now. Remember that to sing is more than just learning about how to use the voice. It’s about a voice and beyond. Without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  00:58

Do you experience feelings, such as self doubt, fear, anger, anxiety, guilt, shame, or even regret? Do you feel that you are unable to accomplish the things that you want in life or that you simply lack direction? Have you ever asked yourself why this is so? Why do you feel as though everything in your life has become so difficult and you’re drowning in overwhelm?

Well its time for your to take charge and to optimise your life. In this episode we’re going to look at some of the things that we can do to remove the personal fear that comes from overwhelm everyday in your actions and in your decisions, and you can start by learning to love and trust yourself, be clear on what you want and ask, Does my behaviour fit what I want, or am I paralysed in overwhelm that is keeping me away from those things that truly matter.

See the problem is that, when we are in overwhelm, we can become consumed with negative feelings, which will lead to us having massive over reactions to insignificant situations. You may feel physically ill or fatigued without knowing why. You may have trouble focusing or even completing the simplest of tasks. Some people can withdraw from friends and family. Does any of this sound familiar to you? 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  02:37

Overwhelm in your life can be caused by external things such as traumatic life experiences, and major relationship breakdowns. However some of your overwhelm can be coming from things that are absolutely within your control and you do have the power to take charge. In this episode, we are going to look at self inflicted behaviours that are detrimental and break these down into five bad habits.  It’s important to understand that we all have a choice to either live the life we dream of or to go through life with a handbrake on because we engage in behaviours that cause us to be in a constant state of self inflicted overwhelm. 

The problem is that you may not even realise that you are guilty of some of these behaviours, and that you, yourself are creating overwhelm in your life. So we will unpack why this happening and what is triggering your overwhelm as there are so many unwanted sources of overwhelm that can affect your ability to think and act rationally. Once you get rid of these out of your life, NOT ONLY you and but the people around you will be far better off. So listen up if you need help or you know someone that is always seems to be in a chronic state of overwhelm, tell them to listen too. My hope is that by the end of this episode, you will be able to catch yourself next time you are about to fall into one of these five bad habits.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  04:24

Number 1: Stop being a YES person!

Do you suffer from the inability to say no to  others? And No to distractions, and to every opportunity that comes up even if it’s something that is not aligned with your heart and your goals?  If this is you, it’s time for you to drown in your sorrow of over commitment and the negative thoughts of overwhelm this creates. Please, it is time for you to start saying no more often. 

Let’s start with people pleasers – hands up!!! You might not think this is you but by saying yes to everyone, you are allowing others to take charge of your life. 

So if you find that you are busy all the time, doing all the things that others put on your to do pile, and you have no time left for the things that are important to you, it is time to stop saying yes and stop playing victim. Why do you do this? You must learn to say no and take charge of your future. The more you agree to take on, the more people will think you are a push over and they will keep dumping stuff on you. 

Like all of us, I receive emails all the time from people asking me to action something, and what I have realised is that usually when someone sends me an email that is urgent, its’ because they are disorganised and have left something to the last minute. So why should I have to pay the price for someone else being a shambles. It’s time to start saying no and put yourself first so you don’t experience the agony of overwhelm. So next time someone asks you to do something that is not aligned with your purpose, just say no thank you. I dare you! 

I heard this from Brendon Burchard, one of my favourite thought leaders. When he receives a request from someone, he replies like this: 

“Thank you very much for thinking of me but unfortunately my plate is already full of other projects and priorities that I agreed to or I planned months ago and a sudden emergency or request of yours unfortunately has been put in line with a bunch of other people who thought of asking me much earlier. If this is something that must happen, please let me know what the actual drop dead/dead line when this must happen is , in which if it doesn’t happen on that exact date, your career or life is at risk. If that is not the true date, that is your preference and I need that real deadline. 

I know this is brazen and takes audacity and I’m not sure I could respond like that, but I suppose the message here, is if you want people to stack more and more on your plates keep saying yes.  I have been that person that was at everybody’s else’s beck and call and it just put me in absolute overwhelm. I was raised to be a people pleaser because in the Italian culture, it is inbred to worry about what others think about you. You don’t want people to think badly about you and you don’t want people saying that you are unkind or a nasty piece of work because you say no. It’s in our culture to live our lives to live to the standard of others and it was hard for me to let go of that mindset, but I couldn’t live my life that way. I felt that people were not being respectful of my time.

What I also found was that when I over committed for other people, I couldn’t deliver with the level of excellence that was required in my teaching with my students, and in my service to others. So it is fair to say that it is selfish to be over committed. Maybe you need to feel guilty about saying yes to everyone all of the time. Tell yourself that you cannot deliver your best work to your students, the very people who are actually paying you for your services, if you are selfishly following your desire to be a people pleaser. This attitude of “I want to take care of everybody”, that very impulse to do this can become a very poor habit that stops you becoming the best version of yourself in the moments of your day. 

When you realise you can’t help everyone, you start to prioritise so you can help the ones that really truly need you. By pleasing everybody, by responding to every email, you are simply living your life being reactive. You are in defence and never in offence and you can’t focus on what matters. You must deliver what you promise to your students, and your loved ones with excellence,. Don’t compromise your energy, your relationships, your work, your heart and you soul. You need to establish strict boundaries in your life. 

I don’t know if this rings true for anyone else that’s in the teaching world. But I found that this was the case for me, especially when I had my large teaching studio. There have been some parents and students that I could tell were going to high maintenance from the first call enquiring about lessons. From that very first conversation, they were demanding discounts, free introductory lessons, a specific day and time even though I said it was unavailable or they pushed for their child to go first on concert day. Look I can go and on and on. But I am sure you get the idea. These people don’t leave you alone and you find yourself investing so much time, energy, attention and you find yourself doing everything you can to please these people. You get to a point that when you see their number come up on your phone, your heart sinks, and you feel overwhelmed as you brace yourself for their next request. You say yes to absolutely everything they demand, but guess what? They will be the first ones to leave your studio. The people that are the most demanding and you say yes to, are always the most disloyal. The ones who come in week after week, month after month and never ask for anything, will be the ones, who will stay with you the longest and be your most loyal clients. 

Demanding people are no longer my priority. I will not allow my own happiness to suffer just to please someone else. For this reason, I have a policy that if a student or their parent causes me to be in a chronic state of overwhelm, even once I’m home with my family, I fire them. I don’t tolerate over bearing, demanding  students or parents anymore. And guess what, they’ll probably go pester another singing teacher. Learning to say know has allowed me to attract only the good to my teaching studio. Learn to say good riddens! You cannot please all of the people all of the time.

Don’t blame everybody else and don’t be a victim of the overwhelm that you have manifested by being a yes person. You must take charge of your own life and stop  

floating around doing everything that everyone asks of you. It’s time for you to focus on your purpose and passion. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  12:33

Number 2: You must stop living in chaos

When you lack clarity, you end up chronically disorganised, distracted, and overwhelmed. Living in chaos, will start to exhaust your brain and you will suffer from decision fatigue. 

When we’re constantly analysing, ruminating, changing our minds, and questioning our decisions, even subconsciously, this chaos will also deplete our energy levels. That’s because we’re on high alert making decisions, trying to anticipate problems and figuring out how to overcome obstacles. Travelling through life without clarity, is like travelling into the unknown. When you are clear on where you’re heading in life, you eliminate overwhelm. Those who have clarity don’t take things on that don’t push the needle forward for them and they are less likely to make wrong decisions. They are precise in every move. You have to be razor clear when you wake up every morning on what is it that you need to do that day to keep accomplishing. To avoid overwhelm you must begin the day with clarity, weaponised and ready. You must be absolutely sure of what your focus needs to be on this day, today! Not three days from now, not four months from now. Today!!  

Ask yourself. Do you go into your week knowing what it is you need to accomplish? By planning each day of the week ahead, in detail, it will help you achieve clarity. For me clarity begins on Sundays. Every Sunday, I fill out my weekly planner which is organised by the days of the week and broken down by the half hour. Firstly, I schedule in my must do’s for that coming week which include my teaching days and hours and I include travel time. Followed by appointments and events that I absolutely cannot miss such as deadlines, business meetings, interviews, and calls. Then I allocate time for on creating content, researching, writing presentations etc. Next I add any hair, beauty, and any other medical appointments into my planner and once I have a clear idea of where I need to be each day for that week, I plan all my workouts for the week. Yes I schedule when I am going to work out and what that physical activity will consist of.  So which days I am going to go to the gym, walk, and I book all my pilates sessions. This is an important part of my week so why wouldn’t I schedule and prioritise this time in my planner. It is me time and it’s the time that helps me recalibrate and if it doesn’t happen, I don’t cope with the stress of my busy days and I end up feeling anxious. Once I have completed my planner, I write down the three key tasks that I absolutely must prioritise in order for me to achieve my personal and professional goals.  By the way, in terms of tasks such as checking emails, I only check and action these twice a day, and never during times that have been allocated for other tasks.

For me when I can visualise my whole week on paper, I realise I have more time than what I thought I did. I find being regimented with my planning, I can cope far better with my weeks and I don’t feel overwhelmed. So take charge of your days and weeks because when you have clarity, you don’t end up in overwhelm. You understand your priorities and you know your real deadlines.  

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  16:35

Number three – Don’t believe everything you tell yourself

We can spend so much time telling ourselves that we’re not good enough, smart enough, talented enough, thin enough, pretty enough. Or we tell ourselves that good things will never happen to us, they only happen to other people because we are not deserving. But Guess what? Just because you think those thoughts, they may not be true. Thoughts are not always the truth, they are the stories we make up in our minds. Some of us are so good at telling ourselves all these untruths , that we become pathological liars and our brains don’t know any different.

Researchers estimate that we think about 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day and that about 80% of those thoughts are negative. Wow! That is a ridiculous amount of negative self-talk. Much of that self-talk comes from overwhelm and overwhelm creates negative self talk. And that self talk will impact on your blood pressure, muscle tension, temperature, breathing rate, heart rate, even how much your hands sweat. Those are some pretty significant physical reactions to our thoughts!

It’s a vicious cycle. It’s a shame really because our negative self-talk affects us in so many powerful ways. If we think something is possible, we’re more likely to make the effort to go for it. However, If we think something is impossible, we don’t even bother trying. If we think we are a good person who deserves to live the best life we can, we will create that life. But, if we think we are undeserving or not capable enough, we will sabotage our own efforts without even realising we’re doing that. So firstly we have to stop taking badly about ourselves to ourselves and stop doubting ourselves to ourselves. 

You must learn to stop and catch yourself out in the moments of the day because this self talk will manifest as negativity and will follow you everywhere including your teaching studios. It will filter into your energy, your routines and your relationships and will drag you down by filling you with self-doubt and resentment. That is not a good thing. I have met some amazing teachers who are incredibly talented, but they can never keep their students and they wonder why they have no work. The problem is that no one wants to be around their bad energy. They are constantly complaining because all they see is the bad in their world and they spread this negativity in every conversation they engage in even with their students. They have a woe is me mentality and they over share their negative self talk. I am sure there are people you know that bemoan life exactly like that.

Remember to beware that self-talk is a reflection of who you want to become in the future. What you say to yourself will manifest. So when you speak negatively about yourself whether it’s to yourself or to others, negativity attracts more negativity so be careful what you wish for. You will attract all those things that you are speaking about. 

Wow this is something that I had to learn the hard way. As a young girl growing up, all I got from my family was that I was not good enough, smart enough, that I was useless and lazy, so talking badly about myself came easy. I didn’t know any better and it took a number of traumatic experiences coupled with therapy for me to realise my true self- worth. I had to learn to turn my negative self talk into positive self talk. One example is that when my husband and I lost everything, including our family home about 12 years ago, I realised that negative self talk was not going to serve me in that moment in time. It was not going to help us get out of one of the most difficult situations we had ever faced. This realisation triggered something in me that completely turned my thought process around and instead of thinking “I am not deserving”, I started to tell myself that “I am better than this”. 

It’s such a shame that it took loss, including the loss of loved ones for me to realise that I was deserving of a better life and my new positive self-talk completely changed my life around. I know that I am capable of anything and everything I put my mind to. My mind is so powerful and nothing is unachievable. If I don’t know how to achieve something, I know I can go and learn how to do it.

The lesson here is that it is hard to accomplish good things in your life with a negative mindset. So your job is to be on the watch for negative self-talk. When you catch yourself saying something negative about yourself, teach yourself that it’s not just not true, but it’s not ok to do this. Listen to what you are telling yourself and how that talks makes you feel.  I still catch myself out every now and then, even if it’s in jest, when I speak to others. 

Shift your focus on positive pieces of self-talk so you can prove your negative self-talk wrong. Say something kind to yourself and about yourself and see how life changing this can be. We are the person we talk to most throughout the day, so it is important to not let that voice play in the background like a bad radio station. That inner dialogue must be kind and we must learn to treat ourselves better in life. Those thoughts inform what you believe to be true and will directly influence your levels of overwhelm in a positive way.  So stop speaking toy ourself in a way that you would never speak to anyone else. It’s time for you to treat yourself as your best friend, not your worst enemy! 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  23:18

Number 4: Hanging on to the Past

Do you cling to your past?  That is the stories that can keep you trapped in a way that you cannot seem to move forward. Sometimes these can be situations that have occurred in our lives and we carry that version of the story of our past through life and we never release it, whether the narrative is true or not. 

So in my case, I created a story when I was a child based on the awful relationship I had with my mother. This severely affected my decision making in all my significant relationships as an adult. I looked at life through my childhood lens and it stopped me from having meaningful, loving relationships until I made the conscious decision to change the narrative of my story. We are all unreliable narrators and we tell a story through a lens that can be somewhat distorted and these are usually faulty narratives. There is always a broader version of the story that people haven’t explored and sometimes we need an editor to help us revise the story we have told ourselves. This can be a councillor, a life coach, a friend, a family member or a professional health worker who can help you move forward and get to the next chapter. I grew up in a family where talking about feelings was not the norm and I wasn’t allowed to feel any kind of upset, hurt and I was not able to stand up for myself. I raised by mum to live in fear. My mother made me fear everything. If we went to the beach, I wasn’t allowed to swim in the deep, because she told me that a shark would come attack me or I could possibly drown. I wasn’t allowed to have a bike because my mum told me that I would fall off and break a bone. I wasn’t allowed to go and play with other kids in the street because she told me that it was unsafe and someone would kidnap me. I had a terribly lonely and sad childhood and I remember being five years old staring into my wardrobe trying to figure out how I could pack all my clothes into a suitcase and run away from home. That picture is still firmly implanted in my brain, but the narrative has changed. In order to have the amazing life that I deserved, I had to tell myself that the only way my mum knew how to keep me safe and protected was to put fear in me. My parents were post war migrants who moved to a new country, where they couldn’t speak the language and there were the victims of racial sledging. I know now my mum was just trying to protect me from feeling the pain that her and my dad felt as they moved to new a country they were till trying to navigate. Still it’s been hard for me to grow up experiencing fear in difficult situations where I was uncomfortable or confrontational. It is the only way I knew how to react and at times, it can still be my default emotion when I am in overwhelm. There were times when I thought fear was not just are part of my narrative, but also in my DNA. To this day, I still won’t swim in water where my feet can’t touch the bottom and I am still fearful of the deep to this day. 

So I am guilty of holding onto the past way too long. I have had to learn that the past is gone, and we can’t do anything about the past, we can’t change it. We can choose to hold onto it and hurt ourselves or we can let it go. It really hurts to have built up feelings of regret, anger or resentment about those experiences from the past. We do have the power to let these feelings go and I have done it and it feels incredible. It is so liberating! It’s like taking the shackles off. It’s the greatest sense of peace you will ever have. The only time you need to look back to the past is to see how far you have come. The past can be a powerful took for reflection and to release overwhelm.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  27:52

Number 5: Stressing about the future

You can’t predict the future, so it’s no point being overwhelmed about something that hasn’t happened or really may never happen. You absolutely can’t and COVD-19 has proven that to us all. When you in overwhelm about the future, you imagine the worst possible outcome in any situation and convince yourself of its inevitability– usually without any real facts to back it up. 

A good example of this would be that you begin to imagine that you are going to be laid off from your job, even when there is no concrete evidence that supports your prediction. Even though the worst-case scenario rarely ever happens, you act like it’s just a matter of time and you let it dominate your thoughts and actions, causing you to live in overwhelm in your workplace.

There are so many things that will happen to us in our lifetime that are completely out of our control. Who could have predicted all the craziness that happened in 2020 and still continues to dominate news headlines to this day. No one had a clue this was all going to happen. The truth is we never know what the future holds so no point stressing about the things that may never happen and cause you to feel overwhelm. Focus on what is going on in your life right now. You can prepare for the future, but don’t be in overwhelm about it. Focus on becoming your best self in the present moment so you will be equipped to take on whatever challenges are going to be thrown at you in the future. Be prepared by building yourself up for these challenges. Be sure that no matter what, you cherish the present moment because you are never going to get it back. 

Tomorrow is not guaranteed for any of us – and history shows that worst-case scenarios seldom come to pass.. If you are always stressing about the future, you will be to ransom by 

This overwhelm. You are never going to give yourself the opportunity to experience the joys of the here and now if don’t shift your focus to the present.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  30:22

It is time right now to stop creating overwhelm and to start attracting so much more positivity in your life. I promise you that you aren’t going to know yourself. When you stop indulging in one or all of these bad habits that don’t serve you, you will create a mindset that will support you and hold you in good stead as you move towards your purpose and your passion.

I want you to reflect on each of the five bad habits in this episode and ask yourself which one of these do you need to quit right now. Go and look at yourself in the mirror and be honest and identify which of these are you guilty of? Which of these affect you the most? And once you are aware of these things, start the journey of letting go of these bad habits so you can start pursuing your own personal greatness without negativity holding you back. 

Making changes to these bad habits will support your life in a positive way. 

When you experience positivity, you will achieve greatness  and you will feel more relaxed so you are more alert and centred. You will be more present and focused and your daily outcomes will  improve. So every morning before you start the day, set the intention to alleviate overwhelm. You can choose to eliminate these habits and stop those self-inflicted feelings of right now, for once and forever! It’s time to take back control of your life.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  32:11

Hey, I hope you enjoyed this episode have a voice and beyond. Now is an important time for all of us to spread positivity and empowerment in our singing voice community. It’s time for you to invest in your own self care, personal growth and education. use every day as an opportunity to learn and to grow so you can show up for your students. Feeling energised, empowered, and ready to deliver your best. Be the best role model and mentor you can possibly be and watch your students thrive as you do. Thank you so much for listening to this episode. If you enjoyed it, please make sure to share it with a friend or a colleague who you think will be inspired by this. Copy and paste the link and share it with the people you think will enjoy listening to this show. Please share it on social media and use the hashtag a voice and beyond. If you would like to help me please rate and review this podcast and cheer me on by clicking the subscribe button on Apple podcasts right now. I would love to know what it is you enjoyed the most about this episode? And what was the biggest takeaway for you? I promise you there are many episodes to follow as I’m committed to bringing you more inspiration and conversations just like this one. I’d like to finish up with my final thoughts. Remember that to sing is more than just learning how to use the voice as singers. Our whole body is the instrument and our bodies echo what we feel physically mentally and emotionally. So singing is not just about the voice. It’s about a voice and beyond. Please take care of yourself and I look forward to your company next time.