Do seemingly small things, like replying to emails get on top of you in a way that the intensity then spills into your day? Let’s investigate what happens in those moments
when emailing or another task feels a bit too much.
What’s going on with that email?
Facing your inbox may seem straightforward yet people do often struggle with replying to emails.
Some experience it as a sort of spacing out, their ability to act beginning to slow down or shut down. The more they try to focus what or who to email, the less they are able to proceed.
Those with more extraverted tendencies have the opposite experience: of speeding up. They get into a somewhat agitated mode. They’re thinking and trying more and more yet – paradoxically – there’s little actual progress.
Either way, it’s stressful but not unusual that people get stuck, unable to do the thing they’re trying to do. In fact, it’s very likely to happen unless you’ve found a doable for YOU way of responding to a particular block to action.
Why you can’t act when lost
The way I recently tried and failed to take action was with recording an audio exercise for a client to help them integrate their progress.
It seemed easy. I was familiar with the format of the exercise and had done it many times myself. I record things routinely as an added resource so there was no problem on that score either.
Yet, days were passing and I was not able to even begin. Worry crept in. Self-doubt followed. Then, stress about the delay came and grew. I was only able to distract myself from pain, not act, despite all the inner ‘tools’ I’ve developed.
‘Empathy is needed when the blocks to action appear’*. I reached out for that, finally realising I was stuck. I needed emotional support as stressed brains prioritise survival over progress.
The sequence of returning to flow
To make progress with helping the client, I needed a way to restore my flow of action.
I knew, from helping people with intensity, that being ‘in a state’ was not the problem in itself.
Overstimulation will naturally arise whenever somebody is exposed to more stimuli than is ‘digestible’ for their system just then.
In other words, I was experiencing a signal from my nervous system telling me that I was asking myself to do something that I didn’t yet have an effective-for-me-way to do.
Still, I did need to soothe my overstimulated brain first, or else it wouldn’t be available for the creative work of discovering a better how-to I needed.
The kind colleague I asked for help gave me some beautiful empathy which allowed me to then become all ears for any advice she might have on how to produce my recording.
Since she knows me quite well, the suggestion she made worked a treat right away. In fact, it became the standard way I create follow-up recordings for clients. Rather than making them cold, I now record live, with a client taking part on the phone. For me, it makes producing the recordings as easy as it was impossible before.
What this experience has taught me is that human contact is a big flow-enabler for me. But I wouldn’t have been able to discover that, if I’d got stuck in the loop of judging myself for the overstimulation I was in to start with.
There is a sequence to restoring flow and it’s soothing your state first, finding a way through second. It allows the flow of activity to return.
When people get stuck with emailing or other tasks, it has a lot to do with trying and failing to feel better by pushing to achieve. It interferes with the natural sequence in which flow occurs.
Steps to becoming able to email
So how do you become able to act/email as and when you need to?
Please note that this may not be the same as ‘whenever I think I have to’. 🙂
1. The first step is to reduce overstimulation
I have a program which helps people to evolve their individual way of doing this.
Whether you learn this with me or another way, learn this you must. If you don’t stop and de-escalate your emotional state, your brain will not be able to find good solutions no matter how hard you push. In fact, overstimulation escalates the more you try and fail.
Reducing overstimulation is about calming your brain waves. There’re many ways to do that, from empathy to rest, exercise, body work, etc.
Chances are you already have some ways that work for you to calm down. You just need to develop a habit of applying them whenever you need to get unstuck and do what matters.
If you find yourself NOT taking this step, you’re likely too overstimulated already and need a pause from doing and empathy quite urgently.
2. The second step is to find a way of emailing that enables YOUR flow of action
Once your mind is clearer, especially with a buddy to help you think freely, you’ll be able to discover a way to email that works well for you.
I sometimes speak to a recorder and email an audio file to avoid typing. Others prefer to pick up the phone instead. You may be supported by setting a time limit per go or by meditating first.
Whenever you aren’t doing something, find calm first and only then look for YOUR way forward. Here’s to returning to flow, gently and reliably.
*Quote by Dominic Barter, http://cultureofempathy.com/References/Experts/Dominic-Barter.htm