To read all of Janne’s offerings on Elephant, going way back: here.
I’ve been living in a state of chosen overwhelm for as long as I remember.
My world is fast, my business is loud, and I am evolving as a woman constantly. I have chosen consciously and unconsciously to pack my days, hours, and life to the brim for many years.
As my healer, Prem said, “You’ve lived more life at 30 then some people will live their entire life. Slow down.”
Sometimes I’ve played the victim of this, “But my life is just busy. I’m building my business. This is temporary.”
Every emotion that we create has a payoff—even the icky ones.
Overwhelm, when created, causes shut down. And then from shut down, we do nothing, burn out, and become completely unavailable to all things in our life.
Tornado, Tasmanian devil, and then…collapse.
Crashed adrenals, heightened mood swings, caffeine.
My boyfriend said the most beautiful words to me when I was in a state of complete overwhelm on the way to Los Angeles for my book launch.
He said, “You operate in overwhelm all day long. And you look to end your overwhelm by controlling everything around you. What you need to create is peace and calm inside of you. The world will always be overwhelming—your work is to find silence, grounding, and calm internally.”
Some words hover over us with an undefinable presence and weight saying, “Pay attention. Are you listening? This is for you.”
The words slowly and precisely landed in a way that I heard them, felt them, and understood them.
Throughout the drive to Los Angeles, I had been barking at my boyfriend saying, “Drive slower. Stay in one lane. Follow that car farther way.”
I bark things at him in the house, “Listen to your voice note with headphones. Move quieter in the space.”
My business has been overflowing, and I’ve been stretching to make space for a new relationship—with my lack of space in my life, I spun into overwhelm.
I sought to control my environment and all variables around me to diminish the heightened overwhelm in my body.
But this is backward.
The world will always be mad—there’s an orange Cheeto in the White House, and people are panic-buying toilet paper because of an inflated flu by the media.
Madness will always exist.
Busy will always exist.
Living in overwhelm is a choice—and it’s mine.
I landed a week later in a small cabin in Washington that was full of the silence and wood, a fireplace, pigeons cooing—all of the things that externally can provide calm for me.
I didn’t want to leave the cabin.
I woke up and made a strong, black coffee, had a hot tub surrounded by pine trees in a quiet that escapes us. I jumped in a glacier lake and then retired in front of the fire, wrapped in a towel breathing in the calm and medicine of the woods.
“I don’t want to leave,” a little voice said.
The part of me that’s been living in overwhelm as my normal for 15 years could happily stay here.
Then the external environment that I control is calm, and I feel calm.
But the key to healing overwhelm is to not be surrounded by loons calling and stars twinkling and to find that peace and calm within ourselves.
A friend of mine said that one of her teachers said, “Westerners think that they need to be in a quiet peaceful place to meditate. They get irritated to be interrupted. But if you come to India, I’ll send you to sit under a bridge full of chaos and see how you do.”
So my choice is not to retire to the woods (except when desired to write and be connected to the medicine of nature which I believe we also need). My choice is to get so grounded and calm that a tornado can whip around me—and I do not shake, or tremble.
The world will always be loud; I desire to create a connection with peace so deeply inside of myself that not even an earthquake spins me out.