In this post, I’m sharing an issue that’s come up for me in the past week, and how I coached myself through it. 

I’ve posted before about how this time of year often brings a spike in “busyness”, and this week was a particularly busy one for me. On Monday morning, I woke up feeling frazzled and overwhelmed. My mind immediately started running through my to-do list and, before I even climbed out of bed, I felt like I was behind. This is familiar territory for me – as a recovering “urgency addict”, I have an old habit of creating pressure on myself, generating a spike in adrenaline that I’d use to fuel my performance. (If this sounds perfectly reasonable to you, I hear you. And… I’m also here to tell you that there’s another way to do things – one that doesn’t lead to burnout, adrenal fatigue, or require copious amounts of wine to come down from. But I digress…) So anyway, on Monday morning, I noticed I kept saying to myself “I have SO much to do.” Lying in bed, I could feel my muscles tightening in response – I wasn’t even vertical yet, but my body was preparing to run a 50-yard dash. Identifying the source of stress – the thought “I have SO much to do” – was step 1. Because I know that circumstances (like a full to-do list) are neutral, and it’s my thoughts about my circumstances are what cause me to feel a certain way, I knew I needed to take a look at that thought more closely. One of my favorite tools for dealing with stressful thoughts is The Work of Byron Katie ( The Work comprises a series of four specific questions and three turnarounds. It’s a simple process of inquiry, designed to help investigate thoughts that are causing suffering. It can be a bit confusing or awkward at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s life-changing. Like, seriously. Anyway, I took the thought “I have SO much to do” to The Work – here’s what happened.

“I have so much to do.” Question 1: Is it true? Yes Question 2: Can you absolutely know that it’s true? YES Question 3: How do you react – what happens – when you have the thought “I have SO much to do”?I feel tense, restless, anxious, impatient, and overwhelmed. My chest feels tight and constricted. My mind is racing. I feel like I need to jump up and do something, and at the same time I feel heavy, like I’m carrying a huge weight. I notice I’m impatient with my kids and husband – I get irritated with them. I resent them for the things that I’m doing for them, I want them to do more to help me. I bully myself, my taskmaster is relentlessly pushing me to get things done quickly. I feel breathless. I feel like I don’t have enough time. Question 4: Who would you be without the thought?I’d just be present, focusing on whatever is right in front of me. I’d simply move through things one at a time, without mentally racing through all the other things I need to do. I’d feel a continuous flow of energy, rather than these spikes of adrenaline and fatigue. I’d be more patient with my family, and more connected with myself. I’d feel more peaceful, and I’d treat myself more compassionately. I’d have more attention to put on the task at hand. I’d be more aware of what’s going on in me, and what I need in any given moment.

Turnaround #1 – The opposite (This is when we turn the original thought around to it’s literal opposite.)“I have so much to do” becomes “I have so LITTLE to do.” Some evidence:

  • I can only do one task at a time, and one task is actually very little to do.

  • My mind slows down when I think of it this way – I can focus on just the thing right in front of me

  • There’s very little I actually HAVE to do. I have to breathe. I have to eat and drink water. I have to sleep. I have so little to do – the rest is a choice.

Turnaround #2 – The other (This is when we flip the subject and object of the original thought.)“So much to do has ME.” Some evidence:

  • The thought ” I have SO much to do” has me. I’m under it’s control, I’m not myself when I’m believing this thought.

  • When I become a slave to my to-do list, and disconnect from the present moment

  • My inner taskmaster is relentlessly and thoughtlessly pushing me forward. She’s taken over because she’s helped me in the past, but I can take it from here.

Turnaround #3 – The self (This is when we flip the whole thought around to the self.)“I have so much ME”. Some evidence:

  • Ah yes, when I’m not focused on what I have to do. When I’m present, instead of mentally racing along through my lists and agendas.

  • Me – who I am at my core – is not defined by what I do. I am so much more than my accomplishments. I am so much more than the things I do.

  • When I’m enjoying each task, each moment as it comes, instead of worrying about the next moment. I have so much more energy available, when I’m in the present moment.

That concludes The Work.

What I noticed… I immediately felt lighter, more energized, and more capable after going through this process. My takeaway… the belief “I have so much to do” keeps me racing through activities (either in real life or in my mind), instead of being present and open to what’s happening right now. How I’ll remind myself of this… When my thought turns to “I have so much to do”, I will place my hand on my heart and take three deep breaths, and remind myself that all I really HAVE to do is breathe, eat and drink water, and sleep. Everything else is a choice, and I can choose to hold onto what’s creating stress or I can choose to let go of it. <3 So that’s it – a little glimpse into my self-coaching process. If you found this helpful, please let me know. If you found it confusing or distracting or just plain hated it, please let me know that as well! And if you have questions about The Work, please feel free to reach out. I’m happy to support you in any way I can. <3