When a problem feels too big to handle

Liesel Teversham

Liesel helps HSP introverts to embrace their sensitivity as a superpower, and overcome obstacles so they can thrive. She also works with clients to solve their health issues, and has authored 2 books. More here.

Published on 2022/02/28

I start a client journey with a valuable exercise that helps them to see all the different pieces that constitute the issue.

I know when I have a problem in my own life, it feels like one large thing. It’s hard to see clearly that it’s made up of many smaller different parts. That makes it difficult to start untangling. I want to make it easy for others to understand, too. It makes it manageable.

Therefore we spend the first session drawing their challenge on an online drawing board. They talk, I add bits to the picture, and by the end of the session, we have a small map of smaller pieces that we can work on.

The Problem with Big Problems

A big problem feels overwhelming. We don’t know where to start, and we can’t see through it. We can feel emotionally unable to face or deal with it. When it’s broken down into smaller more specific bits, we can decide on a starting point.

The smaller bits are things like:

  • events that illustrate the symptoms they have
  • when the problem started
  • what makes it worse
  • when they get triggered
  • what they’d like instead
  • their self-talk
  • their beliefs
  • who contributed to it
  • difficult childhood experiences
  • people who made an impact in their lives
  • and so on.

On the one hand, breaking it up on a board makes the whole problem much more manageable. We go through this together, and then decide together which piece of it to work on first.

On the other hand – sometimes a client looks at allllll those pieces on the board, and start feeling overwhelmed. It can be hard to be confronted with everything so clearly laid out. They can get the idea that this is just way too much, that it will take forever. That they’d need so many sessions they’ll never be able to afford it, or won’t have the time. That it’s hopeless before we’ve even started.

And of course, I completely get it. Because I’ve been there, too.

A Recent Example

Recently there was exactly such a situation with a client. She wanted to work on a few issues and had been trying for a while. Both by herself after getting trained, and in swap sessions with other newly trained practitioners in her modality. Yet – she wasn’t making headway. She finally decided that enough was enough. She wanted to be free of her challenge.

We’d had a free conversation already where we determined we were a fit.

In this first session of our series, we started mapping out the challenge into its smaller components. We both gained more clarity about all the bits that were involved and needed to be addressed.

She started getting a little smaller in her chair as she looked at it all and I got the distinct sense that there were some ‘Showstoppers’ coming up for her.

I asked how she was feeling at that moment, looking at all the pieces on the board. And yes – her clear answer was “Overwhelmed, anxious, it’s too much, it’s all closing in”.

Her throat and chest were tight and her jaw clenched.

The Miraculous Thing

EFT is brilliant for dealing with any emotional reaction! It was clear we would not be able to start working on the actual problem before we resolved some of the feelings that were showing up about the problem.

It always amazes me how quickly EFT can bring calmness. We’d spent about 30 minutes on the map, and the next 15 minutes we did EFT on everything she was feeling about that map. We used a form of EFT called ‘Intention Tapping’ or IEP (created by Steve Wells from eftdownunder.com).

Some of the aspects we worked through:

  • the tightness in her upper body (throat, chest, jaw)
  • fearing failure again (counselling didn’t work, swaps didn’t work, getting trained didn’t work)
  • identity questions (who will I be if all of this is gone?)
  • fear, anxiety, overwhelm and reluctance to face it all

At the end of those 15 minutes of tapping, she had let go of so much of the stress around the issue.

Her words in a follow-up email:

“Thank you for today, I really feel like my confidence has increased around this being achievable now. I am pleased we worked on the global overwhelm and anxiety, as I feel that it has been a barrier to my success in the past.”

How is this Relevant for You?

If you’re sensitive and shying away from working on some of your own bigger issues because you have an underlying fear that it’s too much to face — please take heart.

We always start with working on those feelings about our challenge. They are like the hard shell around the nut. If we don’t address the shell with gentleness and kindness, we can’t get anywhere near the nourishing nut inside. Especially with sensitivity, we never force. Instead, we tiptoe, with kindness.

Safety is key for healing. It’s hard to do this deep work by ourselves, or with someone else who is still practicing and building their skill.

Find a practitioner that you feel completely safe and comfortable with. Ask for a free conversation first, so you can sense their energy, and how you feel in their presence when you share some of your issues.

Not every practitioner is right for sensitive beings. HSP’s need more safety and very, very slow, gentle steps to do this work. It’s completely okay to make sure you find someone who is just right for you.


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