Surfing the Waves of Overwhelm.

Wave after wave of change is rolling through our global Change-maker community. March was a difficult month for many. While a few of you are surfing these sets, more of you are feeling raked over and bashed up in the crash zone. Life in a washing machine makes it hard to do your best work, make good decisions or effectively carve your way through change. Your surfing skills may need an upgrade.

Take three deep breaths and remember…

Everything we are experiencing now was once a thought or belief that was brought into the world. The outer world is a reflection of our collective state of consciousness. The biggest barrier to handling change and staying out of the crash zone is found in our own minds.

A deeper problem.

Feeling gutted by the news, fighting with your partner, swirling in busy work or distracting yourself with a social media escape are all symptoms of a deeper imbalance: We’ve forgotten our ability to nurture inner calm that gives us access to our inner strengths. We look outside ourselves for a quick fix when it’s inside of us that needs our attention. And because we’re looking the wrong way, people are behaving badly. People are losing their sh*t.

Image: Courtesy Unsplash

The State called Overwhelm.

We are at the point of diminishing returns: Going faster is untenable yet we think we can speed up. Doing more is no longer effective but we still try to push it. If you are finding it harder and harder to show up fully, you are moving into a state of overwhelm. If you show up angry, resentful, uninspired, easily triggered or don’t show up at all – you are in overwhelm.

Overwhelm means you are taking on too much – mentally, physically, emotionally – and it’s affecting your capacity to stay on an even keel. What you used to do can’t be done now. You don’t have the juice. Overwhelm means you are leaking massive amounts of life force energy to things that drain you or are simply out of your control.  And it’s completely unsustainable.

female surfer underwater

Image: Courtesy Surfer Magazine

Going within to get out of overwhelm.

The first step to inner calm is to acknowledge you are working at capacity and there’s no more wiggle room. It’s time to let go of those things that are no longer serving your ability to cope.  There’s much you can do to shore up your inner stability. Let’s start with three simple things.

  1. Moving forward will depend upon not getting bogged down. Determine what is essential to you. Let go of the rest. It’s a process. (Blue Ocean was doing good work, but it was stopping us from doing something greater. Acknowledging this has freed us up to get back on course.)
  2. How do you spend your spare time? What do you do when you procrastinate? What habits undermine your well-being? Acknowledge the distractions that are draining you. Don’t beat yourself up. Just extricate yourself. It’s a process. (I unplugged from social media for a month and it reset my life).
  3. Identify and sequester yourself from people who are bleeding your energy. Vampires are real, and you probably know a few. They may show up as a friend, relative, co-worker or boss. Calmly saying NO and meaning it is another life changer. (It’s a process.)

draw line in the sand

Boundaries, baby.

Setting healthy boundaries means putting your oxygen mask on first. When you set healthy boundaries you call back your energy. You increase your internal RAM. You can actually think straight. You reclaim your power to create a life of purpose that’s yours. The unprecedented popularity of meditationyoga and journaling point to regular people who are serious about calling back their energy. You will be amazed at the time you can free up to do the things you are meant to do.The more you work on your inner calm and well-being, the more ‘you’ you become, and the more energy and courage you have to contribute to the world.

Leaving your Lizard Brain at the Door.

Boundaries give you inner stability to navigate change: It’s much harder to get blown off course when you are clear on what’s yours and not. In this space of calm clarity, the states of fight, flight and freeze cannot prevail. Your lizard brain is no longer in control.  You may hear the fear but your inner wisdom is louder. Your higher perspective shines through. You can make solid decisions that support your next steps. Boundaries free you up to do the things you are here to do.

Zen Surfer at Sunset

Image: Courtesy Zen Surf Morocco

What does my soul need today?

For a moment, turn your attention inward, and ask yourself, “What fills me up?  What brings me joy? What gives me a sense of peace? Who makes me laugh? What do I love to do that I’m not doing? What’s missing? Who’s missing?” You may want to journal around these questions. There are people, places and activities that give you a sense that there are still many things ‘right with the world’. Connect with them. Schedule them. Make it a practice.. Begin now to show up for the things that light you up. It’s from here that you can light up the world.


Creating inner space has no down side. But it can get tricky. When you begin to attend to your own well-being, don’t fill the space you reclaim with more obligations or more busy work. You are making room on your plate for the things that matter to you that, until now, you’ve put at the bottom of your to do list. Be prepared for some kickback from those who expect your full attention to their agendas. You may be told you are selfish. Overwhelm is a precursor to breakdown and burnout: If you are in overwhelm, now is the time to be selfish – just sayin’.

Surfer with board watching surf

Image: Courtesy Shark Mitigation Systems

Take a Stand.

If you’re having difficulty with boundary setting, you’re not alone. Changemakers have “a passion for rescue” as author Liz Cunningham says. You will attract people who want you to take care of them, do their work for them, and deal with their drama. And you have an innate tendency to help. Stand your ground. Or better yet, stand on the balcony: Be the observer, the listener and encourager, offer suggestions only when asked – but don’t dive into the fray when it’s not your stuff.

You can do this.

Taking a stand for yourself is all about regaining your inner stability. Healthy boundaries help you maintain your energy.  Recharging yourself allows you to bring your gifts fully into the world.  As you start making a regular practice of creating inner calm, you generate a sense of well-being that ripples out to others, giving them inspiration to do the same. And this collective inner wisdom projects out into the world for the better. Change, after all, is an inside job.

We’re here to support your inner change-maker.

Stay tuned. Next up, Change and the Warrior Spirit. In the mean time, be kind to yourself, and mindful of what you allow into your inner ecosystem.  If you would like to receive weekly Ocean Updates for Ocean Changemakers directly to your inbox sign up here..