Do you ever get overwhelmed? Yeah, me too.  I’m not talking about being buried underneath piles of things to do or a list of intentions to hold as much as I’m talking about the THOUGHTS and FEELINGS we have about all those things. To me, that is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to feeling overwhelmed.

And it goes something like this:

What the hell am I doing? You don’t know what you’re doing…
Yes, you do! Hold the faith, don’t lose focus.
When did Milo get his rabies shot last…isn’t he due? That dog needs much more love than we give him…
Is my kid too confident? Shouldn’t he be more humble? Am I humble enough?
 I don’t know what I’m doing..I’m totally messing him up.
No one knows what they’re doing. He’s your first child, cut yourself some slack.
Our educational system needs major reform…I need to get more involved…
I really like that chocolate brown skirt in the Sundance catalog…
But really don’t you have enough long skirts?
There is too much stuff in the world! Too much stuff in our house! We’ve got to purge…
And I haven’t spoken to her in a while…I should really reach out to her. But I don’t want to. Why is that?
Are we out of paper towels again?
You’re fine. Go for a run. Sit on the beach. Write.
I don’t have time.
I have too much time.
Sigh.

Welcome to my brain on any given day. So this is what I mean by overwhelmed – the constant churning of thoughts and emotions that can conspire to knock you out of whack and keep you off center, unplugged and spinning like a top.

I’m a runner. So naturally, my first instinct is to run. Let me tell you from experience, you can run, but you can’t hide from Overwhelm. It will be the dog that hunts you down like you’re wearing Milk Bone underwear. So scratch that strategy. It’ll just make you sweaty.

Give this one a try instead – trust me, it’s much more fun.

Imagine that you are Queen of your Castle, Mistress of your Domain. You oversee a large kingdom with lots of townspeople who demand your attention. You’re a very busy woman, with loads of important stuff to do, so naturally making yourself available to the townspeople 24/7 is not a realistic option. So you decide to “hold court” on certain days, during certain times. Rather than travel out of your kingdom hither and yon, you stay put – you sit in your throne and ask that all interested parties form a single file line outside the door. When you are ready, you receive your first visitor. You hear their complaint, idea, saga, and then respond accordingly. Then you have them ushered out.

It goes something like this:

Oh, Anger, it’s you again…what say you now? Yeah, that still bugging you? I can imagine it is…sounds like you’re going through a pretty rough patch, there. Yeah, that’s right…more room out than in, I always say. Feel better? Ah, good! Well,off you go!

Worry! Long time no see! What is it this time? Oh, I see…yes, well that is concerning, isn’t it? I’d be a mite bit anxious about that myself. What do you plan to do about that? What is it you need from me? Oh, well that’s not too difficult. I can certainly honor that request… Good to see you, again, too!

Ah, Creative Spirit – you’re looking a little ragged today! Stop much? You seem to be frothing at the mouth a bit, why don’t you try swallowing. How I do love your enthusiasm, it’s charming, really, but I can see how it takes a toll on you. What do you think you need most at this moment? Ah, wise choice! I highly agree! Off you go to it then!

You there! Speak up now, what’s that? Oh Hurt…I don’t believe we’ve ever met, but it’s a pleasure. I’m sorry, you’re going to have to speak louder, I’m having trouble hearing you. That’s better. Oh, I see. Well, now. That is quite a story! I don’t blame you one bit…I’d feel the same way, I suspect. Now, now,there here’s a tissue. It’ll all work itself out, you’ll see…Next!

And so it goes. You receive “visitors” in this fashion until you either get bored or you get to the end of the line. Because here’s the thing – all these thoughts and feelings? They often just want to feel heard and acknowledged. Like the irate customer that calls a technology support line, they simply require being heard and validated as true. Dismissing, dodging, denying, debating… it will just prolong the battle.

Try holding court like the benevolent and wise Queen you are. Wear a crown if it suits you. Set a timer if need be, but take care to create and hold order. Insist on a single-file line.

It’s your domain. It’s your castle. These are your townspeople. They just might have something valuable to offer.