Every woman has experienced overwhelm. It’s a very common feeling that can be interpreted both as a positive or a negative.
By definition overwhelm shows up in two different general contexts:
– in relation to an emotion. i.e. “I feel overwhelmed with sadness.”
– in relation to time management, the feeling begins from a feeling of fear. i.e. “I feel completely overwhelmed by the current workload I am responsible for.” (fear to be late, fear to get blamed, fear of loss, etc.)
In either case, overwhelm is the emotion we more often than not choose unconsciously as a response to a situation.
Someone overwhelmed will often complain that they lack time, motivation and are over-committed in their work and life.
What’s interesting to know about emotions is that they are simply the result of our perception of the situation. As such there are as many perceptions of a situation as there are humans on a planet.
Some people might feel worried when seeing someone trip and fall down the street, while others will feel chocked, scared, sad, compassionate, judgmental or even amused by it.
Your perception of a situation is what causes any and every emotion you experience as a human being.
As you express this choice freely, overwhelm is one of the dozens of emotions “available” on the emotional menu.
I love this emotion wheel by Plutchik’s which reveals the relation between the main emotions.
Overwhelm is an emotion that is more specific and quite unique in the sense that it can be applied to most emotions. i.e. “I am overwhelmed with joy, rage, grief, admiration, etc.”
I like to make the distinction from all general emotions (and here we’ll be covering the negative emotions as I never saw someone complaining of joy overwhelm!) and overwhelm that is born in fear.
Close neighbours to the feeling of overwhelm are feeling out of control, pressure and exhaustion as well as worry and anxiety. A combination of these feelings is usually experienced simultaneously alongside overwhelm.
The important resource which will help us identify where overwhelm comes from is the fact that it has a close relationship to time.
We cannot experience overwhelm in the past. Try, it just doesn’t work! You can have memories of feeling overwhelmed in the past, but you cannot experience it now.
Depending on its source, overwhelm either lives in the present or the future.
The Solution To Overwhelm
When overwhelm comes from fear, you worry about what might happen in the future. The focus is in a future that may or may not happen.
The remedy to that is to bring your focus back into the present moment. Breathe in and out slowly as you realise that you cannot control the future and can only chose how you react to the situation this instant.
When overwhelm comes from negative feelings, you are stuck on an emotion that begun in the past (even if the past is just a few moments ago) and that remains (and grows) in the present.
The remedy to that is to let yourself feel the emotion with full awareness first (cry if you need to, take some time alone and be angry, etc.).
Then, you can make the conscious decision to let go of the old feelings and chose a new way of being.
Use the same simple technique (see above with fear initiated overwhelm) to bring yourself back into the present, and away from the past using calm controlled breathing.
In Womanity Wonders, we take these exercises to the next level by using a clear strategy to identify where your overwhelm comes from and use specific mindset techniques to resolve it once and for all. Check it out now.