Most leaders are overwhelmed. There are more fires to extinguish than ever and too many strategic decisions to make in an uncertain environment. Many stay in their head or offload the reasons of their overwhelm to their coach. But that keeps the overwhelm alive. There are more effective ways to snap out of feeling overwhelmed.
“I am overwhelmed. I haven’t slept well, because the kids are sick. And there are too many urgent and important things that need my attention right now.”
While my client is checking in like that, his eyes dart from right to left. He is quite obviously not present in the here and now. After 2 minutes of check-in, I have enough to go with. So instead of asking the usual “What do you want to get coaching on today?”, I invite him to start today’s session with a round of EFT tapping.
“Ok, let’s tap”, he says with neither enthusiasm nor resistance.
Releasing the feeling of overwhelm
For the next 3 minutes we tap on acupressure points while recounting all the stressors that he’s mentioned. Afterwards he checks back in smiling: “I feel more tired now.” And I reassure him that yawning is great, because it means you’ve just had an energy shift. And indeed that shift is very noticeable: I see a calmer person in front of my screen, no more wandering eyes. He easily gets to a coaching topic as he has regained the ability to focus and be present in the here and now.
“Let’s focus on asking for help and delegating”, he says. And we go into what’s holding him back from delegating. The coaching goes smoothly as the client has laser sharp access to the fears that have him take on too many tasks that he should not be taking on given his position.
30 minutes later, after we have unpacked a lot and the client has already assigned himself the homework of delegating specific projects and tasks, he shares:
“You know what, I had a splitting headache at the beginning of our session. And it’s just gone. The tapping has shifted my energy entirely. It just takes a bit of time to realise it.”
What’s the learning here?
Overwhelm is an emotional state
Overwhelm is an emotional state. And emotions are energy which is stuck in our body. We can of course talk about all the things that overwhelms us, but this keeps the overwhelm alive. We literally keep feeding ourselves the thoughts which trigger the same physical reaction over and over again – via the release of stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline. To get out of feeling overwhelmed, it is far more effective to work with the body to release trapped energy. It’s such a fast way of calming down our minds that I sometimes wonder why so few leaders know and practice this.
EFT tapping and other embodied practices are tremendously effective in re-establishing balance. As they calm down the physical overwhelm, the mind is free again to be creative and look at challenges from a place of self-awareness and agency.