The Map: What to Do When You’re Overwhelmed with Too Much to Do!


Updated: February 26, 2011

shazamI had a shazam moment yesterday. We’re gearing up for a cross-country move right now, and have so much to do in such little time. From packing and saying goodbye to Sedona to getting settled in our new home in Portsmouth, NH, my mind was moving a roller coaster speed: “What should we pack first?” “How are we going to get everything all squared away over the next few weeks?” “What if things don’t go smoothly?” On and on I worried. After a busy morning with a TV interview and errands in Boston, I was hurrying to my next meeting when a park bench seemed to have my name on it. As I sat down to take a break and mull over everything, I realized that in all the busyness of moving I’d unwittingly let myself become stuck in the Sticky Swamp. Yikes!

Are you overwhelmed that there aren’t enough minutes in the day to get all your to-dos done? Ever feel like you’re drowning and failing miserably at managing your life?

When you find yourself in the metaphorical landscape of the Sticky Swamp, you feel utterly stuck. The air is murky and the muck beneath your feet is primordial ooze. Perhaps life has thrown you a curve ball and you have to care for an aging parent as well as a toddler. Or, maybe your company has cut back on contractors and you’re now stuck with twice as much work. Maybe you’ve procrastinated and now you’re swamped with three deadlines looming and your just car broke down. You might even be in the midst of a big move like me!

We all end up in the Sticky Swamp at times. But, it doesn’t have to be as sticky as it first seems. In fact, if you relax and stop struggling against the mud, you’ll be surprised by the abundance of treasures that float to the surface!

As I talk about in my new book, The Map: Finding the Magic and Meaning in the Story of Your Life, it is the internal landscape of your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that shapes your outer reality. The best way to dramatically transform your outer experience is to access the hidden wisdom within your consciousness. To help you do just that, I’ve developed a process through which you describe your inner world as enchanted environments where your emotions take on characteristics of the natural world. As I teach you in The Map, this enables you to tap into your profound power of self-awareness so you can harness your power to direct your life.

When you’re in the metaphorical internal landscape of the Sticky Swamp, you feel overwhelmed. It’s not just that you have a lot to do—your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are also highly charged. With the Sticky Swamp comes a sense of stuckness, stress, exhaustion, and lack of motivation. You feel you have to do everything and be everything to everyone. The more you struggle and stress within, the stickier your life seems to get on the outside. But, remember, this doesn’t have to be your reality.

QuagmireTo get out of the Sticky Swamp, you need to chill out and relax! All the stress and struggle in the world will not get you out of the mud. Even when your thoughts are running on about all the things you need to do and your emotions are screaming that you should be stressing out, you must quiet your mind. Sometimes the Sticky Swamp might get the better of you, as it did with me yesterday. But, all it takes to come up for air is a moment of stillness. When you get quiet and make a conscious decision to relax and trust, all will soon be well. The Spirit of the Swamp will guide you to the next right action, and you’ll find that there is enough time to do everything.

There is an ancient saying from Norse runes that I love to keep in mind during sticky times: “We do without doing and everything gets done.” When we stop trying to do everything, we open up to Spirit and allow for synchronicity to work magic. In the Swamp, we can open ourselves to the amazing gifts and support of the Divine.

So as I sat overwhelmed in that park yesterday, I decided to relax into the stickiness of our move. In fact, I made it my mission to hunt down a snazzy pair of bright yellow mud boots so I could completely chill out in all the swampy muck of it. And, while I watched all the equally overwhelmed passersby on their lunch break, I hoped they too would get a moment of stillness so they could find the amazing gifts in the Sticky Swamp.


1. Think of a time when you were in a Sticky Swamp. In your journal, answer the following questions:

  • What were your predominant thoughts, feelings, and beliefs at this time?
  • Did these thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, have positive impact on your outer experience or might they have caused you stress?
  • Looking back, did any gifts come out of that time?
  • What lessons did you learn about yourself and life from the Sticky Swamp? (I,e, that Spirit will open doors when you relax)

2. Whether you find yourself in a swamp right now or not, we could all use more stillness in our lives, so take some time today to take your mind of things and relax. Perhaps go for a walk, meditate, or take a bath. Get quiet!


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