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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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« How to Let Stuff Go & Make Space for Great Experiences | What Are Today's Interesting Finds? - v14 »

Reduce Your Overwhelm & Increase Zen With One Powerful Method

It’s spring. This is often a very happy, joy-filled time of year. The temperature is warming, nature is re-growing, and sunlight abounds. Yet even with these signs of hope and renewal, life can still feel overwhelming.  Why is that? Do we take on too much? Do “situations” that we have little to no control over knock us down? Do we having trouble seeing the path forward?

Whatever the reasons are for your overwhelm, I’m going to offer up one powerful method to help you reduce it and bring back some calm. Before my secret is shared, I offer you a short story.

You many already know this about me, but I love getting together with my family and friends. There’s nothing that makes me happier than sharing stories, time, meals and laughter. With Passover around the corner, my husband Steve and I have been preparing to host a seder in our home, as we do most years. The group will be larger than normal. I admit that I’ve been stressing out about how we’re going to accommodate everyone. Thoughts like, “Will we have enough seats or space?” and “What if we don’t have enough food?” have occupied my mind.

Finally, though, we figured out the space and food challenges. As I was just settling in and focusing on the other aspects of getting ready, we ran into a major glitch. Our fairly new boiler, which provides our home with heat and hot water, stopped working. Without giving you the details of the saga, the upshot is that we now have a huge home project that needs to happen the same week we’re preparing for our 35 guests to come over. We’ll probably do a quick fix solution to get our heat and hot water back. Then after the gathering, we’ll make the major repair needed (as in getting an above ground oil tank) to permanently fix the problem.

What does this mean? Aside from a huge, unanticipated expense, it also means that the house won’t be in the shape I’d hoped it would be. There might be piles of dirt outside from digging. There could be pipes running on the ground in places they normally aren’t. It might mean that things will be much more chaotic leading up to the event than I had hoped. Then it hit me. There was nothing I could do to change any of those things. In fact, I could be worrying about things that might be non-issues. I certainly wasn’t thinking about what was most important. So what did I do? I tapped into something I already knew, but needed to remind myself of again.


The powerful method to reduce overwhelm and increase zen is to let go!


We have no control over certain things like when the boiler or oil tank decides to break. So I’m focusing on the things that are in my control (like my attitude or how many pounds of brisket I’ll be cooking, or matzoh balls I’ll be making,) and let go of the perfectionist, worry-ladened thoughts. Instead, I choose to remain calm and embrace the joy I’ll experience when our family and friends come to our home. Letting go feels so much better than holding on to worry and stress. Letting go opens the door for experiencing, as my Mom used to refer to as, “the good stuff.”

What helps you reduce overwhelm? Is there anything you’d like to let go of? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Come join the conversation!





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Reader Comments (10)

Ugh... I'm sorry that this happened at the special time of year. I think it is okay to admit disappointment because it helps us then let it go and move on. It poured at my older daughter's high school graduation. I had reservations for dinner at a restaurant on the beach and it just wasn't at all what I had hoped. However, attitude matters. I could have spent the evening depressed by the weather, which would have ensured sustained misery. I tried to focus on the fact that the family was safely together, celebrating a wonderful achievement. If the hostess can let it go, the guests definitely will.

April 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

It helps me to focus on what really matters, as you did. Your guests aren't coming to see your house or your property; they're coming to see you and celebrate Passover with you.

April 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

An excellent example of what we can and can not control. I agree it's best just to let go. I find that the more detailed the task is, the more likely I can manage it. The broader the task is, the more likely I can't control it.

April 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

@Seana- I'm sorry that the weather changed the dinner graduation plans. It's wonderful, though, that you recognized that you had a choice in the attitude you chose to have. And how lucky for your guests. Your point about how as "hostess" your attitude really has an effect (positive or negative) on your guests. You set the tone...and it sounds like you had a great tone at that.

@Janet- Thank you for the additional reminder that our guests are coming to celebrate and enjoy being together. The fact that things will be slightly out of place, won't matter. Our temporary fix is in and we'll do the permanent solution after this week. Now I can focus on getting ready for the arrival of our friends and family...which as you said, is "what really matters."

@Sabrina- Interesting distinction you make about the type of task and how certain ones are easier or harder to control. As I learned here, it was the expectations that I had to let go of.

April 3, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I, just like you did, try to let go of what I don't have control over (and what is less likely to happen) and focus on what I can control (and what is more likely to happen). Our thoughts matter. As I like to say, "Worrying is like praying for something you don't want."

April 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHazel Thornton

@Hazel- I LOVE your quote and how true that can be. It's preferable to focus on the positive and not dwell on the things that might not happen.

April 3, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

The ability to let go is powerful and is a skill to cultivate. It's hard for those of us (and I count myself as one) to let go of the details - after all, that's what we're really good at seeing. I'm working on cultivating this skill and encourage my clients to do so also. Interesting that this is also in the serenity prayer that is taught at AA meetings. It goes like this: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I send lots of sympathy your way for your boiler. I'm sorry you have to deal with this at this special time with friends and family. But I agree with Janet. It will be a marvelous gathering, I'm sure!

April 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

@Diane- It's beautiful what you've said about "cultivating" the letting go skill. You're so right that for some of us (including me) it's not so easy to let go. There are the physical things with emotional attachments, but there are also ideas or expectations that I hold on to. So like you, I practice, practice, practice exercising my letting go muscle. Thank you for your words of support about the boiler woes. As of this afternoon, we have the temporary fix in place, so all is good at the moment...heat and hot water are back. My attention is now back to being excited that family and friends will be here soon.

April 3, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Letting go is a wonderful way to make us find joy in the moment too. When we let things proceed as it does on its own, we find what's really important rises to the surface. A moment like this is when real joy comes into the space.

April 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

@Ellen- Yet another benefit of letting you pointed out, it can increase the joy factor. When we aren't fighting to control what we're unable to, we let go of a lot of angst and stress. So by letting go, it is easier to be present-focused and thereby more able to appreciate the moments and allow more joy to come forth.

April 4, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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