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1/16/2023 0 Comments
By Michael Kline
Check the thesaurus, and the synonyms for overwhelm are pretty awful: overpower, subdue, oppress, quash, engulf, swallow, submerge, bury, suffocate. Ugh.
To anyone who’s experienced overwhelm, and that’s plenty of us, those words may be all too familiar. Whether the overwhelm is sudden or cumulative, chronic or acute, the feeling is one of drowning, immobility and powerlessness.
During those times, everything feels too big. It’s not just everyday busyness and packed schedules. When we’re overwhelmed, making dinner becomes a monumental effort. Better eat out. Bills, housework? Forget it. Tasks that used to take only 10 or 15 minutes now seem utterly impossible. There seems to be no time for anything. So we do nothing.
Worse, we have no faith that this, too, shall pass. We seem hopelessly mired in the quicksand of “too much.” We keep trying to will our way out of the quicksand with a will that just wants to lie down.
We live in a very overwhelming time. Instant and constant news, social media and smart phone addiction, even smart watches that throw data at us about every little thing. And things are speeding up. Technology’s well-touted time saving seems to have yielded less leisure time, not more. Employers are demanding more work, while many adults are sandwiched between the needs of older and younger generations.
Most of us have really lost connection with nature, and with our own human nature. We’re moving so fast through our activities and alerts and instant messages and fast food, and now even our relaxation is fast – instant ways to relax quickly, use an app to calm yourself, which might be great if it wasn’t on the same smart phone that lures you into a wasted hour of tik-toks while you meant to meditate!
Our lives are in such fast forward that we don’t even recognize we might need help until we’re drowning. Part of the problem is the cultural belief system in place, one that overrates doing and achievement and underrates quality of experience and connection with values.
In that cultural mindset, it’s not uncommon for a friend or a magazine article, with all good intention, to suggest the “Nike solution”: Just do it. Make priorities. Choose three things and accomplish them quickly. Go through the mail as soon as it arrives. Do a “brain dump” and create a huge to-do list with everything that you can think of on it. Now get started!
Not bad suggestions necessarily, but overcoming overwhelm isn’t really about measuring accomplishment. It’s about connecting with what has meaning for us, with what feeds and enlivens us.
Deciding to do more, to overcome the overwhelm of having to do more, will never us where we want to be. This future-based state of mind never ends because there will always be more to do. Stop it!
Being in relationship with what has meaning, is fulfilling in the here and now. That connection provides the natural fuel for getting things done.
Thus, when we come into alignment with our values and needs, we find the inner resources and spaciousness needed to get on with life. Productivity is the side effect of well-being.
First, however, we need to identify our individual symptoms and triggers for overwhelm. Our symptoms can be physical (e.g., nail biting, clumsiness, neck ache); psychological (forgetful, rude, defensive); social (poor hygiene, inadequate boundaries); or spiritual (loss of sense of purpose, unsure of what’s important).
Triggers are just as individual: a deadline, a certain tone of voice, change.
Noticing these symptoms and triggers is like setting off the two-minute warning buzzer: time for intervention techniques. And after we’ve come back to ourselves, it’s time for prevention techniques, such as adequate rest, nutrition, exercise and, as always, connection to purpose.
I find that with many clients, the overwhelm feeling is rooted in some deep-seeded need to be better to be good enough. To be perfect to deserve love, or to produce more to meet the unending, insatiable desire to prove our worth as a man, as a woman, as a parent…
This is a human condition. You are not broken just because you feel the overwhelm. Let’s stop identifying as if we actually ARE the condition – so you are not overwhelmed, you are FEELING the overwhelm. Notice the difference. This means you can separate from overwhelm and enjoy life without that feeling in the future. If overwhelm is a frequent stressor in your life, maybe it’s time to remove it. You’d be surprised at how quickly and easily we can identify the true root cause and change it at the source. If you’re curious, you can learn how a truly transformational technique called RIM (Regenerating Images in Memory) is helping people just like you, live their best lives.
Michael J. Kline is a Master RIM Facilitator and Trainer, Retreat Leader and Firekeeper. You can often find him teaching RIM (Regenerating Images in Memory), or assisting Jack Canfield training transformational trainers, or hosting a retreat at Con Smania in Costa Rica. Otherwise, he’s at home in Sarasota FL, with his husband of 34 years, and their labradoodle Luke. You can reach him through his website www.michaeljkline.com or e-mail email@example.com
Author’s content used under license, © Claire Communications
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Michael J. Kline
Master Trainer. Retreat Leader. Firekeeper.