I am a recovering “Hyper-Achiever.”
Shirzad Chamine, author of Positive Intelligence, defines “the Hyper-Achiever” this way: Highly focused on external success, leading to unsustainable workaholic tendencies and loss of touch with deeper emotional and relationship needs.”
Hyper-Achievers tend to “shun feelings” and may “feel empty and depressed inside, but don’t linger there.” They “don’t like dwelling in feelings for too long” as they are a distraction from achieving goals.
I’ve observed that there is an emotion that surfaces repeatedly for Hyper-Achievers: Overwhelm. Sure, folks like us tend to bounce out of overwhelm by plunging into the nearest achievable goal we can find. The paradox is that this reflexive, unconscious, default tendency to achieve for the sake of achieving often leads to a return to overwhelm. And, overwhelm results in NOT achieving goals.
Our very belief that dwelling in our feelings distracts us from our goals creates a powerful emotion that distracts us from our goals!
Here are a few tips to help you break the achievement-overwhelm cycle and bring some peace and joy into your life. Disclaimer: If you are a Hyper-Achiever, the following is some tough love.
Did you just cringe at the words “peace and joy?” Be honest with yourself. Are “peace and joy” something to be found over the achievement rainbow? How’s that journey going?
Ready to try a different path?
First, the next time you start feeling overwhelmed, don’t try to achieve anything. Take 15 minutes (I know there is so much you could be getting done!) and notice what it’s like to feel overwhelmed. Simply notice. Notice your breath, how your body feels, what you see, hear, smell. Notice your thoughts and let them go. Just be with the overwhelmed feeling without trying to do anything to fix it. Notice how you feel after 15 minutes. If you’re feeling a bit more peaceful, that’s ok!! Purposeful, as opposed to knee-jerk, goal achievement that doesn’t end in overwhelm is much more likely from this space.
Next, connect to what’s important to you. What’s the bigger-picture reason you are running around trying to get all of these things done anyway? Write it down. Say what you write down out loud. Imagine you’ve achieved that. Notice how that feels.
Now, start writing down your “to-do’s.” Organize these tasks into categories that make sense to you. Be sure to include a “delegate” and “ask for help” category. Don’t let that feeling that you should be able to “do it all” stop you.
Finally, what on your list is most connected to achieving your bigger picture purpose? Begin there. Set aside a chunk of time for the sole purpose of working on that.
At the end of that time, notice how you feel. Chances are you won’t be feeling overwhelmed.
Lastly, ask yourself, “What would be possible from achieving from this purposeful space more often?
By Howard Stanten MPT, CPCC
Previously, I wrote about my belief that we all have gifts to bring to the world.
I suggested that when we come to value and become connected to those gifts, “We are most prepared to get over our fine selves (and all the blaming, complaining, victim stories, and self-limiting beliefs that are holding us back) and into answering this question: “Who am I not to bring” my gifts to the world?
“Get over our fine selves.” Really? As a coach, if I ever heard a client say those words, I’d slow things way down and notice my client stepping past, over, or on some part of her/himself. I’d invite my client to explore the part of themselves they are rejecting.
Sure, if we box that part of ourselves into the context of, “… blaming, complaining, victim stories, and self-limiting beliefs that are holding us back,” as I did, there are not many gifts found there.
I made the mistake of making a point based on what we coaches like to call a collapsed distinction. It is true that The Victim in us likes to blame and complain. This part of us that seeks to be rescued or manipulate others into feeling sorry for us does not serve us in connecting to the gifts that live in our higher, best selves.
That’s not the whole story, though. The Victim is not simply something dark inside of us to best “get over.” It serves a higher purpose that calls on our higher, best selves to take responsibility.
The calling is for healing.
We all have an inner victim that was created by no fault of our own somewhere in the past by folks that had power over us. Folks that made us feel powerless, alone, unloved, disconnected, shame and abandoned. Blaming, complaining, and manipulating are responses we developed to take back the control that was taken from us.
When we take the time to listen to, rather than self-righteously “get over” our Victim Story, we will hear the call for healing.
This call is intended to be heard by the Responsible Adult, our best and highest self. This is a call to be treated with self-compassion founded on unconditional acceptance and love. Unconditional acceptance and love that was taken away when The Victim was first created. Unconditional acceptance and love that our Responsible Adult must choose to give first to ourselves if we are to be able to fully step into the magnificence of our gifts and the bringing of our gifts to the world.
Take responsibility for bringing your gifts to the world. Do so knowing that there is no part of yourself that needs to be left behind. Do so with the awareness that we also sometimes do the opposite and put our Victim in the driver’s seat. It’s not fair to ask a part of yourself that is calling for healing to take responsibility for your life. You’ll know when you’re doing this. The blaming and complaining, the use of emotion to manipulate others into rescuing and “loving” you, will be loud and clear.
We all have gifts to bring to the world. We can only do so in a sustainable way when we slow down enough to clear away the debris that is preventing us from listening to that part of ourselves calling for healing.
The Lesson: When we feel like we are being held back by our victim story, there is no “fine self” to “get over."
There is, however, a question to be answered.
“What needs to be healed?”
By Howard Stanten MPT, CPCC
Leadership begins with self-awareness. Who am I at my core? What are the values I want to honor? If I were to raise my own flag, for what would it stand?
I had one of those self-awareness moments a few days ago working with a gifted spiritual healer, Lisa Holcomb. Here’s a look into that moment.
I say, “I have a disruptive and resonant energy swirling in my gut. It wants to emerge. It ascends into my throat. Here, the swirling slows. And, as it slows, it hardens into a lump. My throat feels narrow and tight.”
“And, the energy descends back down into my gut. Quieter now. Until, the swirling starts again.”
“And, the cycle repeats itself.”
“I am restless…knowing there is a shift occurring within me. I am wanting the energy to get past my swollen throat. I am wanting the lump to become sweet liquid honey and pour out of me, becoming what it is meant to be. I am restless, now. With this wanting.”
She says, “One of your old trees has fallen down.”
Her words echo and repeat themselves inside me. And, the self-awareness consumes me. So pure, so present, so true.
Coming to know that kind of truth starts to crack me. Like a piece of tempered glass, there is no returning to what I was the moment before those words.
“The roots are still tethered to the ground,” she says.
I look down and see the old tree with its roots twisting out from its base, curling back down into the ground. I am aware of being still attached and being free to move forward, all at once.
I live into this paradox. Alive with possibility. Resonant. Changed and The Same.
Two days later. I ask someone who is pushing against the heavy weight of a decision, “What if, for today, you just let it go?”
I realize now the question is meant as much for me and my old fallen tree.
What if the roots of my old fallen tree let go? Then, I realize, there is no “if.”
One of my old trees has fallen and the roots will let go.
And, when I again raise my own flag, for what will it stand…. now?
Howard Stanten MPT, CPCC, PCC is an Executive Leadership, Professional