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Coping When the World Overwhelms You

What is funny to me is that overwhelm is sneaky. It never shows up until things are too much to handle. Personally, I have an all or nothing impulse that shows up when I make lists or have plans. I want to set myself up for success, and what I have learned over the years, especially this last year is that life has to flow! I’ve always been told that I am a sensitive person, and so I think that part of me does sometimes get stuck in the spiral of “maybe I am too sensitive to handle this one thing.” Not everything can go as planned, and that can be okay. I had someone very dear to me die this past November, and this was such a lesson in present moment for me. I think about all of the things that I could do, say and feel while I wished he was still here. And while things would not be how I wanted them to look, they still had their way of appearing and showing up. I had to accept that there will always be things out of my control that show me a part of myself and where I might still be struggling. There is also a strong part of me that says “If I don’t get things started, I won’t have to worry about completing them etc.” As much as a plan is good for, I know that life will usually find another way to surprise me. The lesson from overwhelm has been to roll with the punches and accept that what is happening has its place and there is a reason far beyond my understanding.

Logistically, I was actually spending the majority of my time wondering how I was going to achieve everything on my TO DO list; rather than just doing the thing I needed to start to get the ball rolling. Nothing makes me more excited than to be organized. This is lose enough where I don’t have to have a plan for everything, but I can at least know and fully understand my options.

First things first. I tend to wrap myself up in the things to distract myself from what is most important. Usually accomplishing the number one task that is ranked as “very important” to me feels hard to get started. My feelings of self doubt and worthiness come up to the surface, and sometimes the only thing that feels manageable is to delay the process. This distraction of being delayed can usually give me a sense of control; that I can be in charge of. The first thing I do when I hit my breaking point of overwhelm is make a list of due dates, deadlines and desires to have something started, or to have that task fully completed.

Another way that I deal with the overwhelm is to add more to my plate! Wait, what? Did she say that right? Yes! I have a terrible pattern of overloading myself and as a consequence, I get lost in a lack of identity, perfection and rigidity. Thankfully, most of my obligations are self care related or related to spending time with my dog, and that is valuable too.

The biggest lessons that overwhelm has taught me:

  1. Decide where you want to spend your time being the person that you want to be

  2. S L O W down to be with yourself, especially when it is tough. Especially when nothing is going as planned. You can handle this- seriously; your future self is so proud.

  3. How to be grateful for what IS happening & for what IS there! Ever since I have appreciated the tasks that I do have, and the work that is happening that is propelling me into my next steps has been groundbreaking.

  4. Listen to your body! Allowing myself space for nutrition, rest and movement has been relieving; even if it is a MINUTE here or there.

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