Where does overwhelm come from?
Too much to do, too many demands on your time, unrequited hopes and dreams, wanting to be everything to everyone (or even one person/situation), feeling like you’ll never be able to be or do enough, information overload…the list itself becomes overwhelming.
All of that stuff comes from expectations we take on for ourselves and we’re afraid to let them drop because of some kind of repercussions that are real or imagined. It’s kind of hard to maintain good vibes and a clear mind when fear lurks in the background.
What do you do about it?
This is where it gets interesting. I know people who carry their overwhelm around like a badge of honour. Others carry it like the weight of the world is on their shoulders. Still others swim around in it, helplessly waiting for someone to lift them out. Usually when I have been overwhelmed it was more from martyrdom than anything else. Of course I can do everything. Of course I will help you. Of course I will step in. For what purpose? So I can burn myself out for your benefit? That’s kind of crazy.
Get to the source. This may be hard to hear, and maybe you’ll stop reading after this sentence, but overwhelm is something we allow to happen. It’s kind of a victim mentality. The great news is, that once you accept that your overwhelm comes from your own victim mentality, you can change it if you want to.
So how do you stop this overload?
Some people can pull this off quite easily, while it’s a little more difficult for others. Allow me to temper the “victim” concept. In a sense, we’re all victims in one way or another – of capitalism, of racism, sexism, religious dogma and more. As individuals, approximately 85% of us came from dysfunctional homes. So yes, we are all pretty much victims of something.
Remember that our parents were victims of the human experience as well, so there’s no point blaming them because they were carrying the expectation torch from their parents and their parents and so on and so on.
When you go to work, you’ve got a bunch of new expectations to deal with – spoken and unspoken.
Wherever you are, whatever your situation, you know that if you lived by your intuition, you would not be overwhelmed or sucked into unrealistic expectations, and you would not hold them over other people.
The point here is to name the expectations, determine if they ring true and ditch the ones that don’t. If you can pull off the down and dirty exorcist approach to clearing these up, fantastic. If you are single you may want to check out this TED talk on YouTube, The Magic of Not Giving a F*** by Sarah Knight, which is chalk-full of F-bombs. I don’t know how well her approach would work with a partner and kids in the picture.
Personally, when I feel overloaded, the journaling approach works for me, followed by some kind of meditative activity, followed by more journaling. If you like self-exploration and making lists, this is perfect for you.
If you would like to take a deeper dive into the expectations that you carry around, sign up for the 7-Day Challenge. We cover this on Day 4.