TRANSCRIPT: Ep. 058 Overcoming Overwhelm


Miriam Schulman:
Well, hello, this is your host, artist Miriam Schulman, and you’re listening to episode number 58 of The Inspiration Place Podcast. I am so thrilled that you’re here. Today, we’re talking all about overcoming overwhelm. In this episode, you’ll discover how to recognize which feelings are getting in your way, how to create a goal-setting process that works, and how to generate positive emotions so that you take inspired action. Now, before we get there, I wanted to make sure I told you about today’s freebie. One of the techniques I share in today’s episode is a journaling exercise to use whenever you are feeling overwhelmed. It’s an exercise that I’ve used with my coaching clients, and

I’m sharing it with you today absolutely free. All you have to do is go to to download that freebie.

All right, now on with the show. Today’s lesson is adapted from Brooke Castillo’ program, Self Coaching Scholars, which I joined at the beginning of the year. I highly recommend that you listen to her podcast, The Life Coach School, as it teaches you to manage your mind. Her work pulls from the teachings of Byron Katie, Wayne Dyer, and also some Law of Attraction folks. It’s less woo though. It’s more grounded in practical strategies for managing your mind and your emotions.

Now, the reason we’re talking about overwhelmed today is because it came up in one of my Artist Incubator coaching calls. In case you don’t know, the Artist Incubator is a small-group coaching program that I run for artists who are ready to turn their passion into profits. The 10 people in there are all working towards making a living as an artist and making their first $50,000 a year. In the first strategy call, I shared with them strategies for creating what I call a production plan, which is also closely linked to your profit plan. If you want to make $50,000 a year, you have to make sure that you make, for example, 50 paintings that are each a $1,000 each. So it’s all about making sure you have the production or the body of work to back up the kind of profits you want to make.

At the end of the session, they all exclaimed how excited and inspired they felt. Because really, the only thing I asked for them was to create a schedule for creating art, something that they already felt very comfortable doing. Unfortunately, only doing things you’re comfortable doing is not going to move you forward. That’s true of everything in life, not just building an art business, but anything self-development related or really anything, weight loss, whatever it is. You have to get uncomfortable.

So that week, they were feeling very inspired, which made me happy. But here’s what happened the following. The following week, my strategy call with them was all about how to build an email list. At the end of the call, I told them that by the following week, I wanted them to sign up for an email service provider. Not all the artists, by the way, in the group didn’t have this. Some of them did. Some of them didn’t.

I did recommend that they sign up for MailChimp simply because that is the email service that I use, and I didn’t want the artists that I coached to have to spin trying to decide what was best, AWeber, or ConvertKit, or MailChimp, or whatever. They didn’t need to waste any kind of energy spinning about what is the best.

When you sign on with a coach, it’s so much easier just to let somebody else tell you, “Use this,” and you just do it. It was that way with me and this podcast, by the way. I asked just one or two people that I trusted what microphone and soundboard to get, and I just went with it. I didn’t spend weeks analyzing which one to use. I do have a friend… Actually, come to of think of it, it was one of the same friends who recommended the microphone, but he spent so much time analyzing whether to use Zencastr or Zoom and then what format the show would be. I don’t think he ever ended up putting out the podcast. It’s so much easier to just pick something and go with it. Remember, done is better than perfect, and it really is okay to fail forward. Meaning, try something. If it’s not the right thing, if you make a mistake, at least you’re taking forward action.

Because a year later, I do have this podcast, and my friend still doesn’t, which was really a shame because he’s holding back in sharing his gifts with the world. You might be holding back on your gifts as well. Now, I do also want to warn you that don’t think this isn’t for you if you are not interested in building an art business because no matter what it is, whether it’s creating a painting, or building a business, or doing something else, think about how many times fear holds you back. That was probably the number one reason people told me that they hadn’t tried painting portraits yet is they were scared to. Definitely, these emotions stand in the way just in your art-making. So even if you’re somebody who paints for fun, this episode is still for you.

So at the end of the Artist Incubator coaching session when I told everyone, “Go sign up for an email service provider,” I thought it was a pretty simple thing to ask them to do but it turned out to be a big roadblock for many of them. They admitted they were feeling really overwhelmed. That was the word they used, overwhelmed. I’m not so sure if perhaps one person’s overwhelm encouraged the other, and I probably didn’t do a good job of shutting that down. So what happened was I left the call knowing I had work to do with my artists. As much as I wanted to share more strategies for what they should be sending in those emails, or how to host an open studio, or what to say to close the sale when you’re trying to sell your art, I knew I had to hold off on all those things until we addressed their feelings of overwhelmed. Because if they couldn’t get past that, they weren’t going to make progress.

So that’s why I designed the lesson on overcoming overwhelm and why I’m also sharing it with you today. In order to grow as a person, or grow as an artist, or grow as a business, or quite frankly, doing anything worthwhile, you have to be willing to get uncomfortable. You have to trade temporary discomfort for long-term discomfort. You’ll either be uncomfortable now and do the thing you don’t want to do or be uncomfortable later because you didn’t do it. Believe me, I am not perfect when it comes to this. I am definitely not perfect when it comes to my foods. So for example, today, I had this beautiful salad. And I don’t know, I had to have a piece of toast with coconut butter on it at the end because I am scared of getting hungry and being uncomfortable. So I’m not perfect.

There are other areas where I know that I am more comfortable being uncomfortable than other people are. So I do acknowledge that, and I do see you and know that I have compassion for where you are now because I have these feelings, just in different areas of my life. Now, let me give you another example. Let’s say you want to get stronger at the gym. You have to choose weights that are going to challenge your muscles. Like I said, if you want to lose weight, you can’t just eat whatever you want and expect it to happen. You have to be hungry or uncomfortable. The same thing is true for growing a business or just creating your art. You have to take risks and do things that make you uncomfortable. Part of what’s scary when you’re creating is you don’t know how it’s going to come out.

Now, the trick is not to indulge in these negative emotions you may be feeling that’s going to stand in your way of taking action, whether that action is putting that mark to your paper, or adding a color, or offering your art for sale. As Matisse said, “Creativity takes courage.” And if you want to actually profit from your passion, it takes even more courage. Here’s the thing. I know that a lot of people say, “Oh, it takes money to build a business. You can’t make money without money,” or however that saying goes. But really what I like to say is, “It takes courage to build a business.”

I face these fears as well, not just with my eating, but also my business. There are some things that no longer scare me because I’ve had years of experience facing down those fears and doing it anyway. It’s not that you won’t be scared. It’s just that you do it anyway. Years of emailing people, when I first started out, it would drive me nuts looking at my unsubscribes, which I don’t look at anymore. You shouldn’t either. Or, worse, people will write back to me and explain to me exactly why they’re unsubscribing or why they don’t like me. Honestly, it does not bother me anymore. It absolutely doesn’t. I remain totally neutral to the outcome. If people don’t love what I’m offering, that’s fine. They can unsubscribe.

Now, I’ve had years of practice of doing that, but there are other things in my business that still scare me. For example, going live on Facebook, or doing a MasterClass, or launching a new class, these things still scare me but not so much that I don’t do them. And then there are the things that I haven’t done yet because fear does get in the way. I may tell myself a story of a different reason why I’m not doing it. I might tell myself, “Oh, it’s just not part of my business model. It’s not a good time to write a book. Maybe I’ll do that next year.” But when I’m a 100% honest with myself, I know that really that’s fear talking, and fear is not the only negative emotion that stands in our way.

The most common negative emotions that can interfere with your productivity are confusion, doubt, self-pity, fear, and, of course, overwhelm. What I see happen with a lot of artists is what happens is that the fear kind of drives the other issues like they’re afraid of doing something so they’ll tell themselves, “Well, I don’t know how to do this. I’m confused about what to do.” Or, they doubt that a strategy’s going to work. So these are kind of interrelated. I feel like fear and doubt are the overarching emotions that sometimes cause these other emotions. Sometimes, the confusion really is because you just don’t know what to do, but you don’t have to stay and indulge in those emotions. These emotions do not serve you, and they lead to inaction so it’s best not to indulge in them.

Now, if this concept of managing your mind and your emotions are new to you, you might still believe that emotions are the result of our circumstances. But that is hardly the case. Researchers have shown that circumstances only account for about 10% of our happiness. If you want to learn more about that, I highly recommend you read The How of Happiness. I’ll probably butcher her name, but I’ll give it a shot. Sonja Lyubomirsky, excellent book. She also shares based on research in that book that the rest of our emotions are governed by nature, which accounts for about 50% so your propensity to be happy or not. And the other 40% is fully under our control, which is actually a big part of that pie.

Now, in order to move forward, you do have to wrestle your negative emotions, and the first step in that is to recognize your involuntary emotions you might be having and to identify the thoughts that are causing that emotion. But here’s the thing, you do get to choose your feelings. Think of feelings like clothes in your closet. You get to choose to think and feel whatever you want. You are the only one who thinks in your mind. Feelings are just a vibration in our bodies, and we actually can control our feelings with our thoughts. Here are some positive emotions that I suggest you try on for size, committed, excited, empowered, disciplined, willing, dedicated, inspired, motivated, confident, brave, and I bet you can think of others. This is why people practice affirmations.

Now, when it comes to doing something scary, let’s just use the example of creating an email list. You can create an affirmation around it, and it might go something like this. “I am inspired to create an email list because I’m excited to sell my art.” See what I did there? What I did was I created a phrase, and it goes like this. “I am, positive emotion, to take action because I am, positive emotion, to get a desired result. I am willing…” This is an example. “I am willing to ask people to join my email list because I’m committed to building it.” Now, sometimes your result is not going to be your desired result. You have to ask many people to join your email list and know that not everyone is going to want to be a part of that, and that’s okay. Here it goes. “I am willing to be rejected because I know it’s the price I have to pay to build my art career. I’m willing to make a bad painting. I’m willing to be a bad artist in order to become a better artist.” See what I did there?

Here’s an exercise you can try right now. Now, if you’re driving in your car, you’ll have to wait till you get home. But you can always listen to this podcast again. But if you’re not, pause this recording and take the time to actually do it. Don’t worry about where you are recording your thoughts. Don’t let perfectionism of needing some sort of pretty journal stand in the way of doing this exercise. Okay, so here is the process for what you can do to stay focused on a goal. When you think about the work you need to do to reach your goal, take some time to write down how that is making you feel. Be honest with yourself. This is kind of like The Artist’s Way where you’re just going to do a brain dump of what you’re truly thinking and feeling, and this is just a great way to clear the cobwebs of your mind.

Now, the goal can be a creative goal like make a painting, or create a collection of photography, whatever it is for you, but it could be a personal one and it could be a business one. Do whatever you feel called to do at this moment. Don’t judge yourself. So that’s step one.

Step two, when you look back at the feelings that you’re having about the work that you need to do, what are the thoughts you are having that is making you feel this way? So, remember that it’s not a circumstance that makes you feel this way. It’s your thoughts about a circumstance that makes you feel a certain way. So the thought could be you don’t know how to do the thing. The thought could be you think you’re going to be rejected. Whatever the thought is, try to go deep, take some time, and think about it. That’s step two. So this is just getting clear and honest with yourself.

Then step three, what are the positive emotions that will help you move towards your goal? So remember the emotions that we talked about before, willing, dedicated, inspired, motivated, confident, brave, empowered, smart. Whatever it is you need to feel, that’s the emotion that you’re going to vibrate on. Now, I did create a one-page PDF download to help you out with these exercises. Don’t forget, you can grab that at When you choose a positive emotion, it’s going to lead to inspired action. Really, that is how Law of Attraction works. It’s not just about meditating on feeling inspired, it’s about feeling inspired and then doing the thing that you need to do. That is how you apply the work on a daily basis. But you can use this work to create a bigger goal for yourself. Here is how that might look.

You’re going to choose a goal. And for our purposes, make it a short-term goal, make it perhaps a 30-day goal, or even a 90-day goal but no longer than that. And just one thing, and you’re not allowed to change your mind. So, for example, you could choose that in the next 30 days, you are going to build a website, you are going to create five paintings. Whatever that thing is, that’s your goal. Now, in your journal, write the goal down and write it in that SMART goals framework. So, “By certain date, I will have completed and created this goal, and I’ll know that I’m done because of measurably outcomes.” So here is an example. “By October 30th, I will have created my artist’s website. I’ll know that I’m done because I will be able to post the URL on Facebook or on Instagram.” Maybe you’re going to tag me, I don’t know. So pick something that makes you a little bit uncomfortable. If it doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable, then it’s not a goal. It’s just a to-do item.

Now, here are some more questions you can use as journal exercises that will help you create the right mindset for this goal. Why do you want to achieve this goal? Why will you do it no matter what? No matter how hard it gets, why are you going to do this? And, who’s going to hold you accountable? Now, this piece is critical. Few of us can create goals that only we know about. Even somebody like me who is in the Gretchen Rubin Four Tendencies Framework, I’m a questioner, therefore I am self-accountable, I still work with a business coach and I belong to a mastermind because it’s really helpful to check-in. What I find powerful about it is when I achieve it, I like to have somebody to celebrate my wins with. It’s really far more powerful to find an accountability buddy, or a coach, or a group support program that holds you accountable for reaching your goals. That’s why programs like Weight Watchers work so well. Oh, and that’s why the Artist Incubator program is so powerful for my members.

So yes, emotions get us stuck. But often, you just need to turn to an expert, somebody who has gone before you to make the whole process easier and light the way. So even though emotions get you stuck, sometimes there really is a how do you do this problem that might be keeping you stuck. Or, you doubt that a certain strategy might work, you really need somebody to comfort you that, “Yes, this is going to work,” somebody who’s gone before you and done it. That’s the type of mentor to look for.

Now, I share much of what I know on this podcast absolutely free to you. I don’t hold anything back. Perhaps, you can hold yourself accountable and figure all of this out on your own. But if you want my personal guidance and a group of peers to cheer you on and shed light on your blind spots, then I invite you to apply for the Artist Incubator program. I also have some other coaching options if the incubator isn’t quite right for you. There’s no fee to apply and just for doing so, you’ll get to talk to me. We’ll have a free strategy call together. I’ll go over the five plans that every artist needs their art business, and you’ll have my eyes on your art business.

Now, like I said, you do have to apply. That’s simply because I don’t have time to talk to everybody. Does applying make you feel a little uncomfortable? Good. Then it means you’re doing something right. Remember, as Brooke Castillo says, “Discomfort is the currency for completing your dreams.” I invite you to get uncomfortable, maybe just for a little bit. Because on the other side, it is so worth it. There’s no catch for applying for a strategy call. If you’re a good fit and only if you’re a good fit, then I’m, of course, going to tell you about the Artist Incubator program or perhaps a different way to work with me.

Just so you know, there are already 10 artists inside the incubator program so I really don’t have room for many more folks. I like to keep the group small enough to make sure everybody gets attention. Want that to be you? All you have to do is apply,

Together, we can plan your 30-day goal and figure out what is standing in your way. Now, if you want to get a head start, here’s what you can do right now. You got that paper out still? Good. Here is some more prompts to help you along with creating those goals. What I want you to do next is write down absolutely everything that you can think of, no matter how big or how small, that you have to do to reach your 30-day goal.

So a step could be choose an email service provider if that is your intention to build an email list. It could be you have to create a professional email address. It could be you have to learn how to sign up or use said service provider like MailChimp. There are, by the way, free YouTube videos to do this. And then you got to think of all the obstacles that you can think of. This, I believe is Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich concept that obstacles really are action steps that you need to take. So think of the obstacles, identify which ones you need help with, turn obstacles into action steps. Go through this list now that you’ve kind of created a master to-do list and estimate how much time each step is going to take, and then schedule blocks of time in your calendar to complete them.

This is a process that I actually do on Sundays. I look at my week, I plan what I need to get done, and I mark that down in my calendar. What’s important is you have to honor these commitments to yourself. Of course, you need a backup plan, but you don’t always want to be falling on your backup plan. The backup plan is really there in case of blood, or hospitals, or sick children. Any unfinished work can be done in one of your time blocks. Also, I probably should’ve put this as the first thing that you do when you plan your schedule, schedule your downtime, schedule your exercise and your self-care time. My schedule always looks like this first. I have my exercise appointments first. I have my hair color appointments go in next. I have my lunch with friends go in, and I have my coaching calls go in my calendar. And then I schedule when my work can get done.

So that is a system that I suggest you use that I think will work for you. Now, in the download that you can get when you go to the show notes, you’re going to find daily journal exercises. These are exercises I suggest you do daily or at least when you’re feeling overwhelmed if you don’t do it daily. The first thing you do is you write down what you accomplished yesterday. It’s always important to celebrate your wins and stay in that positive space of gratitude. Thinking about you accomplished is always going to make you feel more positive. Next, review your schedule for the day, and then be honest with yourself. As we did before, you want to write how you feel about it so you can be in touch with your emotions. Then, identify which emotion you want to take out of that emotional closet like it’s a menu of emotions, which one do you want today? Identify how you want to feel in order to get your work done.

Now, we created a large list of things to do, the master to-do list. Do not look at that master to-do list every day. Just pick the number one thing, the most important thing that if that was the only thing that you got done today, that you would feel so good about it. Just pick that one thing and declare what time you’re going to do it. All right? So if you want a copy of that in a gorgeous PDF, just go to That’s in the show notes.

All right, we’re going to wrap up now. Thank you so much for listening but before we go, I wanted to share with you the lineup for the next few weeks because it’s going to be amazing, some really amazing guests. Next week, I’m talking with jewelry designer and founder of Flourish & Thrive Tracy Matthews about how to become a creative visionary. Then, we have on Patty Lennon, who will be sharing strategies for selling by using your powers of receiving since she says, “You may not have a selling problem, but a receiving problem.” Then, we wrap the month up just in time for Halloween to talk about how to use fear as fuel by uncovering your shadow self, and that is with Anna Sui.

So as always, I’m sharing practical strategies from the front lines of how to sell your art and tap into your creative powers to inspire it. But we are going to be going a little bit woo this month. I hope you’re ready for it. Make sure you’re subscribed to the podcast so you don’t miss any of it. All right, guys, thanks so much for being with me here today. I will see you same time, same place next week. Make it a great one. Bye, for now.

Thank you for listening to The Inspiration Place Podcast. Connect with us on Facebook at, on Instagram @schulmanart, and, of course, on

Miriam Schulman:
Don’t forget, this episode was sponsored by The Artist Incubator. It’s my small-group coaching program where I help you take your art business to the next level with practical strategies that work. Imagine what it would feel like to be easily selling your art and profiting from your passion.

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