This is not about something being wrong with you. This is about how you do life. It’s about living an intentional and happy life. We are simply not taught some of the things that I discuss in my blog posts. IF overwhelm is one of your “things”, then I would suggest that you get really excited. It’s time to celebrate the impending growth and development that is on the horizon as you take on the challenge of overwhelm. It’s an act of LOVE, self-love, to grow and develop. It’s just time to deal with any overwhelm you have in your life and get freed up to be happy and love life.
Let’s start with getting on the same page about what I mean when I say overwhelm. Overwhelm is defined as a verb in the following ways according to the dictionary: bury or drown beneath a huge mass; defeat completely; to give too much of a thing (to someone); inundate. The synonyms for overwhelm include: swamp, submerge, engulf, bury, deluge, flood, overload, and overburden.
If you have been following my blog then you know my purpose in blogging is to help you have a life that you LOVE. Part of that process means dealing with issues and problems – the things that are hindering you or hampering you from loving your life. Dealing with overwhelm is one of those things and it will require, most likely, some growth and development on your part. I am presenting my take on overwhelm and what it requires to put an end to it or have it be a fleeting, passing feeling instead of a lingering, hanging on feeling. I am not asserting that this is the only way to deal with overwhelm. It’s a compilation of years of growth and development and experience. We all know that I am not a therapist, a medical professional, or anyone licensed to give out mental or physical health advice. What follows is my attitudes and beliefs about the sources of overwhelm, how to fix that at the source level and tips for coping while you do the work required to deal with overwhelm.
I am going to start with a breakdown of the mind in a completely simplistic fashion. The human mind is broken down into three distinct parts: the conscious mind, the unconscious mind and the subconscious mind. Due to the nature of what we are dealing with in the subject of overwhelm, it is going to be powerful for you to understand that there are these separate areas of the mind and that we begin to have the conversation about how these areas impact your thinking. If you have never heard of this concept before then for certain this is going to sound foreign to you and it might be something that makes you go – what is she talking about? Stick with me. This is very important. I’m going to show you how powerful it can be to access what is going on in your subconscious or unconscious mind a bit later in this post.
Conscious Mind: This is the part of your mind that you are conscious of. You are aware of what you are thinking. You are or may be aware of what you are feeling. You are aware of what is going on around you. The conscious mind has been represented as being about 10% of your mind – give or take.
Subconscious Mind & Unconscious Mind: I am lumping these two categories together for the sake of simplicity even though they are separate and have distinguishing features. The makeup and operation of the mind as well as how to train your brain or mind is the subject for a future post. For the purposes of dealing with overwhelm, it is helpful to understand that the largest percentage of your mind is not something that you typically have access to that being the subconscious (or preconscious) mind and unconscious mind. Yes, there are steps you can take to access what is lurking in your subconscious and unconscious mind, but that’s not the subject at hand. If you understand that the largest part of your mind is not something that you currently have control over or access to – it can be helpful in cutting yourself some slack. And sometimes that in and of itself can be extremely powerful. It has been written that these two parts of the mind represent about 90% of the mind, give or take, which makes them powerful and will be discussed in a future post on neuroplasticity of the brain, training your brain, etc.
I am owning this list as my own. This is my assessment of the general things that are the cause of overwhelm for people. I provide it here because to fix the issue of overwhelm you need to get to the source of the problem.
-I am defining this as negative thinking, pessimism, and the lack of mental habits or practices that support inner mental peace. This includes negative self-talk, low self-esteem, the inability to effectively manage anxiety, fears or other emotional states, abuse from other individuals, and a host of other situations that are not conducive to happiness and love.
-This category includes both environmental sources of overwhelm like a living place that is too messy, dirty, unorganized, possibly hoarding, and anything that does not provide you with a positive and peaceful way of living and it includes your physical body and health since being unhealthy can provide a constant source of overwhelm.
There is a vast array of things that can leave you either permanently or temporarily with too much on your plate. This is a very common source of overwhelm for people. The kinds of things that can cause situational overwhelm include being a care giver of any kind, having a special needs child or special needs adult child, having a sick family member or friend, working multiple jobs, being the executor of an estate, going through a divorce, the end of a relationship, the loss of a job, and the list goes on. These are situational sources for overwhelm and sometimes or more often than not you have no control over these events except to put in place a strategy for dealing with the overwhelm it causes and the event or situation itself.
-I am listing emotional overwhelm as the state where you are not or have not processed feelings that need to be dealt with typically in the areas of grief, loss, sadness, anger, resentment, betrayal. The emotional overwhelm may be caused by a situational factor or event listed previously that throws you into emotional overwhelm. This may or may not involve a trauma or PTSD. This could be from the death of someone, a significant loss of any kind like the loss of a job, a relationship, a home, a marriage, a financial loss, or any of the situations listed above. Feelings need to be dealt with and processed if you want to have freedom, power, and happiness. The power begins with you recognizing your feelings and then processing them appropriately.
-Separate from the physical category listed above, I am including in this item the organization and time management practices and habits that give you a life that you love, or in the absence of the organization and time management practices leave you feeling overwhelmed as often as you are. Also included in this category is over-scheduling that process by which you schedule more than you can or should handle. In over-scheduling you are either making commitments that are too much for you given your life or are possibly just not appropriate given where you are in life.
Here are the steps that I assert you will have to go through if you want to put an end to overwhelm in your life for good. Yes, it will take some time. And yes, yes, yes it will be well worth it in the end. Image your life and you are happy! Imagine your life and you are functioning well and feel peaceful. Imagine your life and things are working. It takes some effort to have that. It takes intentionality to have that. It just doesn’t happen overnight.
I have done a good deal of work, that means growth and development, to access my subconscious and unconscious mind. One of the areas that I worked on many years ago was the area of overwhelm. The following diagram is one rendering of what would happen both in my mind and with my emotions when I fell into a state or moment of overwhelm. For me at the time, I was dealing with 3 concurrent traumas and while I was functioning pretty well, there would be some incident or something would happen that would temporarily throw me into a state of overwhelm. By doing the “work” on myself, I was able to piece together the process for myself. Your overwhelm is likely to be completely different than mine.
I have represented my personal overwhelm in a circle because this makes sense to me. Once I got that this IS my mental and emotional processing for overwhelm, my conscious brain took over and would tick through the process in a matter of seconds. It’s the most amazing thing ever! Back before I had this clear understanding of the overwhelm process for myself, being in a state of overwhelm could last for a few hours or if it was bad more than a day or two. Once my brain got this cycle, overwhelm was something that my brain could recognize as a temporary state that would pass almost instantly. It’s incredible. On the outside of the circle I have listed the thoughts that would run through my mind. On the inside of the circle I have listed some of the feelings that I was feeling when I was in overwhelm.
Accessing your subconscious or unconscious mind will have to be covered in a separate post. You might be able to use my process to start to understand your own mental and emotional processing. This is very powerful stuff.
This subject is worthy of a separate blog post and eventually I will do that. For dealing with overwhelm, however, it needs a little mention and some ideas. There are those of you who have overwhelming circumstances and you actually need help because you have more on your plate than any human could handle. It’s just a fact. You will have to deal with your feelings and emotions if you are going to allow and create a team for support. Let me share two examples from my own life. First of all, I’m not the easiest person to contribute to. I know this about myself and while I’m not proud of that, it’s not the worst thing in the world. Given that, it takes a lot for me to admit that I could use a hand.
Back in the day when I was dealing with 3 concurrent traumas (can’t say more about that or trust me, I would), I had to ask for and accept help. I needed to go to the University of Buffalo Medical Library to do medical research, but I couldn’t see my way to spend the money for a baby sitter that was required with three small children. So, friends and neighbors helped me out for free so I could go do my medical research. This was a God send!! Then I had friends and neighbors who came to my house for my kids’ birthday parties when the immunocompromised health of one of the kids made it impossible to have kids around. These adult ladies would come and be the party guests when the kids were little and made birthdays a cause for celebration. Of course, it wasn’t the same as having kids attend the parties, but it was the best I could do given the danger that the common cold represented at that time.
Here’s the kicker for those of you who have circumstances where help is called for – those who are helping you will get more joy and benefit from helping you than you could imagine. Let that sink in. If you can find your way to allowing others to help you, they will get equal or greater benefit. It’s what we call a win-win-win. They win. You win. And your life wins. Ask family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, people at your place of worship, local community organizations or even your Facebook or social media peeps for the help that you need.
These are my tips for getting through overwhelm until you actually deal with the source of your overwhelm and execute a plan that fixes the problem at the source. These tips are not the long-term solution. You can also read my past blog posts which have content to help you move forward powerfully for practices on how to live an intentional life that you love.
We live in a world of unhappiness and overwhelm. Sometimes we have no control over situations or events that happen to us, which rightfully leave us feeling overwhelmed and in many cases with more to do than anyone could handle. It does not have to be that way. The more you take control of your life and live intentionally, the more happiness you will have in your life and the less overwhelm you will have in your life. These are new practices and habits, new ways of thinking and doing life. If you have not lived with intentionality in the past then this is going to feel different. It might possibly feel very weird. You might be thinking that this is ridiculous and no one really does this stuff. Yes, I do this stuff. Yes, it works. Regardless of how it feels or what you think of the actions it requires to deal with overwhelm, it takes something to have a life that you love. I know that you can absolutely have love, joy and happiness even in times of great difficulty and suffering (more about that coming in a future post).
We live life on a treadmill going through the motions. We live life in the grind of day to day operations. We want a different life but the question is what are we willing to do to have that wonderful happy life? I know how to be happy even when life slaps me down. I don’t have a perfect life, but I have a happy one. And I know how to be happy even in the face of dark times and periods of great suffering (coming post on that). I am here to support you along the way. What is causing your overwhelm? What are you doing to get through life while feeling overwhelmed? This is a critical issue that has to be addressed to have a life that you love. I assure you that any and all work that you do in this area will be richly rewarding. I want more than anything for you to be happy and have a great life. What can I do to support you in having that? Please let me know!
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Table of Contents Do You Have these 8 Things That Will Help You Flourish in Life Regardless of What Happens? Hint: It’s not too late