Feeling Overwhelmed? Let A Few Spinning Plates Drop.

As I sit here contemplating all that I might possibly write, my body tenses as the horrible cycle of self doubt and overthinking begins:

"What should this post even be about?"
"Make it interesting...yet real...and authentic...but don't overwrite..."
"How in depth should I go? And isn't it spelled indepth?"
"Am I in a light mood? Serious? Witty? Investigative?"
"Do we have enough lunch meat?"
"Did I ever feed the dog this morning?"


My life.

It's a constant swirl of endlessly spinning plates.

I know I'm no better or worse than anyone in this regard. We're all spinning... each in our own, unique ways.

But the paralysis I feel sometimes...when there's just so much going on and I find it hard to breathe or decide what to tackle next or face the fact I'm going to have to let someone down (sometimes that person is me)...well.

If you know what I'm talking about, then you know it can sometimes feel completely overwhelming.

Photo: Matt Fine

Photo: Matt Fine

But it's really only in the midst of this temporary paralysis, as tears pour from my eyes and I sigh with exhaustion, that my deep breathing finally -- and thankfully -- comes.

It is often then, when I give myself permission to stop holding my breath, that I have the perspective to see how long I've been holding it.

*  *  *

We all work so hard to get through our days...comparing ourselves and judging ourselves and woulda-coulda-shoulding all over everything.

I don't have to tell you how hard it is sometimes. You get it. You live it. You know this stuff all too well.

And here's the God-honest truth.

No one has it all figured out.

There is no such thing as
a finish line.
an end.

Each of these things are subjective, transient, fluid notions that we convince ourselves we're working toward.

But how can we ever really stay "on track" or "keep pace" with variable, flexible, subjective targets?

I sure can't. Trust me, I've tried.

Think of all your spinning plates.

Now, you can drive your body and mind to the brink by trying to keep them all going, ragged from physical exertion and mental depletion, running and worrying about keeping them aloft.

But guess what? Some plates are going to drop, because you are only human. You have limits.

Plus, there's gravity.

And, I really think too often we fear the shatter over the matter, you know? We worry more about the fallout than the actual issue at hand.

"How bad am I gonna look if I [don't make this deadline...write a crappy blog post...have to deliver painful news that will inevitably hurt someone...]?"

We push and push and push to keep up appearances, when the healthier thing might be to do the very thing we fear: admit our vulnerability.

There's nothing wrong with naming your fear and letting the plate drop in full view of everyone. There's no true harm in saying,

"I am not able to make the deadline."


"I just published the shittiest, most disorganized, overwritten blog post in the history of ChicagoNow."


"I know this is going to hurt you, and I feel terrible for delivering this news, but I think it's best we part ways."


"I don't know how to navigate this."


"I'm feeling lost. Can you please help me?"

We often convince ourselves that by spinning plates, we're doing something useful. It sure feels that way sometimes, doesn't it?

But it's not useful.

What's useful is letting a few plates drop.

And that takes courage.

Thing is, when you're an exhausted spin doctor, that courage won't come easy. You'll be too distracted. Too tired. Too focused on the spin to stop and think.

So start small. Build up your courage and your reserves.

Start by simply noticing your plates.

Ask yourself which ones you might pass over, and which ones truly need your attention.

Let yourself be clear on the very shards you fear.

Because in fact, not every plate will shatter when it falls.

Just breathe.

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    Christine Wolf

    I tend to cover life's ups and downs. I don't shy away from the tougher, more emotional stories. While I'm always willing to voice an opinion, it sometimes contradicts my innate desire to please everyone at all times. Such is this crazy life, I suppose. Ultimately, I search for meaning in the human experience, and openly share how I (try to) keep my head above water. Thanks so much for dropping by. I really appreciate hearing your thoughts.

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