How to Avoid Overwhelm and Make a Choice

paradox choice overwhelm balloons

I’ve been reflecting on 2014 and a frequent theme has been a feeling of overwhelm with how much I have wanted to get done in my work, and the conviction that I have needed more books, tools and courses. It’s left me feeling unsure of what steps to take, under the belief that I needed ’something more’. Over brunch last Sunday a friend turned to me and told me that the reason for this was that I was externally driven. She went on to explain that my attention was being called outwards and this was disconnecting me from my own wisdom. Now I consider myself to be someone who is true to herself, but the comment struck a chord. What I realised is that when a person is out of their depth, the default is to look outward for signs that you’re ‘doing it right’. I saw this as a parallel for my clients who come to see me during pregnancy.

For a woman in pregnancy, it may be the first time she’s going through the experience and the learning curve is steep. There are so many decisions to be made during this time; which position to sleep in, what to eat and avoid, how to exercise, birth plans, inductions, Homebirths,, vitamin K- it’s all so overwhelming!

“It’s your choice” I often say to them.

How often we miss out on that for ourselves.

Choice implies that we have a sense of freedom. Often, pregnant clients feel pulled or pushed into making a decision for the sake of the baby. All too often, their own inner needs aren’t heard. Fear can be sky-high through many stages of pregnancy, and the fear drowns out the feelings of safety and trust.

We all make choices in different ways. What’s true is that too much information, and too many opinions can be overwhelming. Decisions can be logically weighed up with benefits and risks, but leave you feeling flat and disheartened. Ultimately we have responsibility for ourselves, but as Barry Schwartz, author of ‘The Paradox of Choice’ says, too much choice leads to “paralysis rather than liberation”.

I highly recommend that we balance decision-making from our heads, hearts and guts.

In summary (for you as much as me);

1- Knowing what you don’t want can be very helpful to steer you in a direction to what you do want.

2- Be discerning of the sources of information you look towards.

3- Step away from anyone who is pushy or pressures you to make a choice.

4- The simple action of walking- one step in front of another and repeat, can help to engage body and mind and let you come to a decision effortlessly.

5- Listen to your own body responses. Making choices that serve us leave us feeling expanded, joyful and open. Choices that don’t often feel uneasy and uncomfortable.

6- Trust that you are enough, you have what you need and that you can always change your mind.

7- Honour yourself and take responsibility for your needs. You don’t have to please anyone else.

There are two great TED talks on choice below. (You don't need to choose one, you can watch both!)

One of my favourites, Malcolm Gladwell, talks about his hero- a man who curiously helped to create the perfect spaghetti sauce.

Barry Schwartz, author of ‘The Paradox of Choice’ says, too much choice leads to “paralysis rather than liberation”. I found the fact that he wore shorts to deliver a talk just as engaging as the talk itself!