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Dealing with Being overwhelmed



What does it mean to be overwhelmed? Chances are if you are reading this, you are curious and may be in the state of overwhelm.

Yes overwhelm is a state and this is good news because state is a label given to a way of Being in any moment. Therefore by its very nature, it is changeable.

Other examples of State could be Angry, sad, happy, stressed, anxious, excited.

There are 3 main components that make up any state you create.

1. Focus. You need to be focused on a particular object, event, person, idea. This can be either on the movie screen of your mind or what is directly infront of you in this moment. This is the visual part of a state.

2. Voice. This can be the voice in your head or it can be your response to something that someone is saying to you – or maybe has said to you, or your mind is telling you they are going to say. It’s the audio part of the state, and often a narration by the voice in your head about what is happening and what it means to you.

3. Physiology. How your body is responding or reacting to the event, situation, person, whether physically in front of you or the pictures and sounds on the movie screen of your mind. The mind does not know what is real or imagined. This is the physical part of state that you Feel. Examples of this could be the change in breath, heart rate, muscle tension, facial expression, biochemical releases. (eg, adrenalin)

It is curious to note that States are created by the self, and therefore can be changed by free will by the self. But don’t believe me – see for yourself.

For example if you were to get into an angry state, how would you do that?

I would need to think angry thoughts about the situation, person, object. I might see pictures in my head about that time/them/it, or Focus on something directly in front of me. I then have thinking about (narration by the voice in my head of what this means to me) and then I will feel that thinking and experience an angry state. 3 components of state – focus, audio, physiology.

If I were to get into a calm state, I would focus on calm thoughts, pictures in my head or look out of my eyes and “see” the calm in the objects in front of me. The narrator in my head could say some calming words and then my body would follow with slower heart rate, slower breathing and I would experience the feeling of a calm state. Alternatively I could focus on slowing my breath and the thinking would likely follow to more peaceful narration. I may even drop back into the present moment without narration and simply experience the calm of BEING. The state of Being conscious, of Being aware I am aware.

With this knowledge of how we create our own states, how does this then help us deal with overwhelm.

Overwhelm is a state created by an intense focus on a whole pile of thinking thanks to the narrator in our head of what we have on our plate and what this means for us. It can be dwelling on the past that the mind carry’s through time as a memory or it can be about the future that the mind is predicting is coming. It then feels big and heavy and burdensome. (because, we are always only ever feeling our own thinking).

Notice if you touch something solid and real infront of you, feel the breath in your body, drop back down into your body out of your head, right here right now, look around, where are the problems.

Now go back up into your head, where all the problems are and notice the change in how you feel. Notice how you are doing that? How overwhelming do you feel now?

If the overwhelm is being created by the thinking that you are feeling as if it is real and in front of you, what options do you have to resolve this feeling?

1. If something is overwhelming you about what is directly infront of you, you can either Accept it or take some Action NOW to resolve the situation that is actually here.

2. If something is overwhelming you because you are thinking about it from the past or future, what can you do right NOW to resolve it? Maybe you can make a plan NOW to undertake action in the future. So do that NOW – because NOW is all there ever is. Action can only be taken NOW. Then put the plan to the side until the NOW to Act is here.

3. If the overwhelming thinking cannot be acted on NOW then vow to Accept that you cant Act NOW, knowing that the time will come when you can.

4. Know (see) that life, tasks, life situations can only unfold in the present moment that is physical. Any other time is on the movie screen of our mind of the past or projected forward into the future. The past and future are illusions in the present moment. If you cannot go physically to the past and change the situation, and cannot go physically to the future right now, maybe you can recognize that the only time you can act is NOW.

5. Put on paper (outside of you) the situations, events or people that are causing you to have overwhelming thinking (that you are feeling). When on paper, you can more clearly see, what is bothering you. Choose the one thing of all the things that you are thinking about, that you could act on NOW to ease the feeling of overwhelming thinking. Maybe this one thing is pivotal to easing the impact of all the others’.

Overwhelm like any state is never permanent. Changes in either focus, thinking or physiology, make this so and will bring you out of any state. Knowing that you are always creating your own state, largely from your own thinking about life situations is a great starting place to freedom from Overwhelm.

Talking to someone for an external perspective is often a great way to see what you can’t.


Jenny Malcolm

Mind & Body

Well Being Coach

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