Overwhelm is an expected consequence of divorce. I say that because WITHOUT EXCEPTION it’s something I work on with every single one of my clients. It’s also something I had to learn how to overcome when I went through my own divorce. What I’m going to share with you today is EXACTLY what I share with my clients as we pick through the pieces of what makes up their overwhelm. The result? They ALWAYS feel calmer and more in control of their situation. You will too, if you follow these 4 steps.
Step 1: Get really clear and specific about what you’re feeling overwhelmed by. It’s not unusual for this step to be difficult. Many of the people I work with have a general idea of what’s going on with them, but to be specific can take some digging. Be willing to dig! What you find during your excavation process might be thoughts, tasks, beliefs, or even more feelings.
What’s surprising to most people is that simply by getting clear about what’s going on they can start to alleviate some of their overwhelm. In fact, one of my clients recently told me at the end of our session that simply by specifically identifying all that was contributing to his sense of overwhelm, he was already beginning to feel a sense of relief.
Step 2: Put each of these things into one of 3 buckets. Anything that’s contributing to your sense of overwhelm can be placed into one of 3 categories:
- I am the only one who can do anything about it
- I can delegate it
- I can drop it
What’s interesting to me is how often people will incorrectly categorize the things that are contributing to their sense of overwhelm into the first category. They decide that they are the only one who can do anything about it. What my clients and I usually find when we work through Step 2 together is they have been assuming incorrectly that they are the only one who can do anything about every single one of the things contributing to their overwhelm. To be fair, this assumption is partially true; you do need to decide what to do about each item. However, most people make this assumption because it’s either what they’ve always done or because they don’t feel comfortable asking for help. The truth is that even if you truly are the only one who can do anything about any particular item, you can almost always find someone who can help.
Look at all the items in each of the buckets. Ideally, the list in each category will be shorter than the list you identified in Step 1. If you’ve got one bucket holding all of the items from Step 1, take a deep breath and go through your items one more time. See if you can move any of the items to another bucket.
Step 3: Prioritize. Prioritizing is vital to overcoming overwhelm. The highest priority items are those you identified as needing to be dropped. Place a #1 next to the items in the “I can drop it” bucket.
Next look are your “I can delegate it” bucket and identify which item will take you the least amount of effort and provide you the most relief. Place a #2 next to this item. Identify the next item which will take you the least amount of effort and provide you the most relief. Place a #3 next to this item. Continue this process with all the items in your “I can delegate it” bucket.
Finally, move on to your “I am the only one who can do anything about it” bucket. Figure out which of these items will take you the least amount of effort and provide you the greatest sense of accomplishment. Place an A next to this item. Figure out which of the remaining items will take you the least amount of effort and provide you the greatest sense of accomplishment. Place a B next to this item. Continue this process for each of the items remaining.
Step 4: JDI This is where the Nike spirit comes into action. It’s time to Just Do It.
Start with all the #1′s and drop every single one of those things contributing to your overwhelm. Take a deep breath and notice how much easier you feel now that you know you no longer need to worry about any of them.
Next, take care of #2. Do what needs to be done to delegate this item to the appropriate person. When you’ve completed this delegation, take a deep breath and notice that you’re feeling more in control.
Next, take care of A. Remember this should be the easiest thing that only you can take care of. Go ahead and just get it done! When you do, I hope you’ll take at least a few moments to bask in a sense of accomplishment and increased ease because there are even fewer things in your “I am the only one who can do anything about it” bucket.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
Step 1: Get really clear and specific about what you’re feeling overwhelmed by. Be sure and list everything. If something comes up after you’ve started one of the other steps, loop back here to Step 1 and continue back through all 4 steps.
Step 2: Put each of these things into one of 3 buckets. The 3 buckets are “I am the only one who can do anything about it”, “I can delegate it” and “I can drop it”.
Step 3: Prioritize. Remember that everything in the “I can drop it” bucket gets a #1. The items in the “I can delegate it” and the “I am the only one who can do anything about it” buckets get prioritized by asking yourself, “Which of these items will be easiest to get done and provide me with the greatest sense of relief?”. Everything in the “I can delegate bucket get a number starting with #2. Everything in the “I am the only one who can do anything about it” bucket gets a letter starting with A.
Step 4: JDI. Start with all the #1′s and drop them. Let them all go. Then go back and forth between the numbers and letters to get things done. For example, if you have 3 items in your “I can delegate it” bucket and 5 items in your “I am the only one who can do anything about it” bucket, you’d tackle the items in this order: #2, A, #3, B, #4, C, D, E.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and persona life coach. I help people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice.