Overcoming Overwhelm: A Life of Alignment
Following is an excerpt from my forthcoming book Overcoming Overwhelm: Dismantle Your Stress from the Inside Out. It’s available for pre-order at your favorite bookseller—you can find direct links here on my website!
If you don’t have the health you want, the energy you want, the peace of mind you want, the life you want, getting crystal clear about your core values is the first step to creating a road map to get there. Examining your ideas and beliefs and making choices in accordance with your values can help you get out from under your overwhelm and create the life you most want.
If you don’t examine your ideas and beliefs, there are a number of problems that may occur. First, you may end up living life by someone else’s rules, and you won’t choose the things that will lead you to where you really want to be in your life. Second, if there is a discrepancy between your core values and the choices you make on a day-to-day basis, it will have a profound impact on your mood, health, and energy and will add significantly to your overwhelm. This can apply to little things, like getting into bed on time, or big things, like marrying someone who looks good on paper but doesn’t really meet your heart’s desire.
And finally, making choices that are out of sync with your values creates a dissonance that your subconscious picks up on. This dissonance then leads to a sense of discomfort—anxiety, depression, general malaise—that can permeate well beyond any one decision and profoundly impact not only your state of mind, but also all aspects of your health and well-being. The stress of this dissonance, and the ensuing self-critical dialogue, can be so significant that it dwarfs the other stresses that are already overwhelming you day in and day out.
This dissonance can be so uncomfortable, in fact, that your subconscious will drive you to make choices to alleviate the discomfort—choices that make you produce dopamine (a hormone often called the “reward drug” because it mediates pleasure in your brain in the immediate moment), such as overeating, eating sugar, having a drink, shopping, or whatever your vice of choice may be. And even though indulging in one of these activities feels good in the moment, it ultimately pushes you further away from a life of less overwhelm and greater ease.
I’m not saying that making choices in alignment with your values will cure all ill health or will mean you’ll never feel overwhelmed. Nor am I saying that we don’t sometimes need to compromise. But understanding what your values are is the foundation for understanding what you can and can’t let go of, what you can and can’t control, and what you can and can’t do to live a life aligned with what means most to you. The key is to keep your finger on the pulse of your life and to be aware at any given moment of what is indeed important to you.
Yours in Health,