Friday, October 20, 2017


Feeling Overwhelmed – What, Why, And How To Fix It…

February 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Misc., News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) Do you know what it means when you feeling overwhelmed?  Do you know not what it is, but why it happens?

You know that dizzy feeling you get when you’re having trouble keeping your balance, or when you lean out over the edge of some place high up?  It’s your subconscious mind’s way of telling your conscious mind that your body is out of balance.

Feeling overwhelmed is the same thing, but for “life balance”, instead of physical balance.  It lets you know that things are not right, and you’re doing yourself harm.

Your conscious mind has a hard time multi-tasking.  It’s sort of like the iPhone’s multi-tasking… it can keep things open to a limited extent in the background, but it basically only focuses on the thing that is currently in   front of it.  When you “multi-task”, what you really do is work on one thing, then push it into the background while you work on something else, then bring the first thing back to focus, etc.

This lack of ability to “de-focus” makes it very hard for you conscious mind to realize when your life gets out of balance.  It has trouble even with the more obvious life balances, like work vs play, let alone with things like quiet vs noise.

The fact that your conscious mind doesn’t notice doesn’t mean that your balance being off doesn’t hurt you.  To make another comparison with physical things, consider that a large portion of male back problems come from men carrying their wallet in their back pocket.  This causes the bottom of their spine to curve, but in a small enough degree that it’s not noticeable while it’s happening.  After ten, twenty, thirty or however many years, though, that little bit adds up to some serious back pain.

Poor life balance does the same thing, but it affects you mentally, spiritually, and emotionally, rather than physically (though enough suffering in any of those four areas will affect the other three over time).  This distress of your non-physical self comes out as feeling overwhelmed.

Feeling overwhelmed is subjectively terrible, and can seem to come out of nowhere.  It can do serious damage not just to you, but to your family and friends, as well, because of the way it causes you to act.

Feeling overwhelmed is like physical pain, though… there’s a purpose for it.  Its purpose is to let you know that you are out of balance, that you need to change things in your life.

Once we understand that the feeling comes from something being out of balance, the next question is usually “But how do I know what is out of balance?”  This may seem like a hard question, but the vast majority of the time, it really is not… it just feels that way.

The reason it feels that way is because of a balance that is one of the most likely to be off… action vs avoidance.  There is an incredibly strong impulse in most people to avoid things that are uncomfortable (yes, that includes me… probably one of the reasons it has been so long since I’ve written here).

In evolutionary terms, this behavior often makes sense… it’s generally a good idea to avoid the type of places where you’re likely to find something that will eat you.  In terms of life balance, however, it can be the equivalent of throwing a bowling ball on the wrong side of the scales.  That’s because you avoid facing whatever it is that is out of balance, and if you don’t face it, if you can’t even acknowledge to yourself what it is, how in the world are you going to do something about it?

That means that your already out of balance life gets even more out of balance, because your balance of action vs avoidance leans more and more heavily toward avoidance… and the more heavily it gets skewed, the stronger the tendency to avoid that balance problem becomes, as well.  It’s a really nasty vicious circle.

There’s another major balance point that is getting more and more skewed in our modern world, too, and it’s one that’s really hard to notice… quiet vs noise.  This is both in the literal sense, but also in slightly more generic terms, meaning all of the “noise” of the constant bombardment of input… emails, phone calls, TV, music, coworkers, family, etc.  More and more people these days forget to spend time away from these things.

These two balances, avoidance and noise, tend to negatively reinforce each other, as well… avoidance causes you to seek distraction (noise), and enough lack of quiet will cause you to start getting further and further into avoidance.

That covers the reason why we feel overwhelmed, and what the two worst causes of it are, but if you are feeling overwhelmed right now, what you really want to know is how to get over it.  I have good news and bad news for you:  I can tell you how to start getting over it, but you’re probably going to want to avoid it.

Here’s the secret to getting over being overwhelmed:  Each day set aside (and I really mean set aside… treat it the same as if you were setting it aside for the person who is most important to you) two thirty minute periods.

One is for quiet… when I say quiet, I don’t mean watching TV, or even reading.  I mean quiet… go somewhere away from all input, sit or lay down (laying down is better but not always available), and just be there.  You may find that you can’t stop thinking about what else you need to do, or dwelling on this or that… and that’s fine.  That comes when you don’t have quiet often enough.  If you keep doing thirty minutes every day, you’ll see this start to go away… and feeling overwhelmed will go with it, too.

The second thirty minutes is for action.  When I say action, I don’t mean exercise (though that’s good for you, and for feeling overwhelmed, too).  I mean action doing something you truly enjoy, in a way that you enjoy it.

That last part probably needs further explanation… I enjoy writing, for example.  I do not enjoy writing when I feel like I have to do it, like I am constrained.  I write two blogs as part of my regular job, for instance.  I don’t really enjoy writing them.  I didn’t enjoy writing here for a while, either… It felt too much like something I had to do.  Now that I’ve given that up, I can write on here, or on my other personal blog, and I enjoy it again.

You might feel the same way about watching TV, for instance, or reading the news.  It’s enjoyable until it starts feeling like an obligation… “I can’t miss the new episode of my show” or “I have to keep up to date”.  As long as you don’t feel like you have to do something, but instead are choosing to do it because you like it, that qualifies for your thirty minutes.

See how each of these thirty minute periods starts balancing out one of the two life balances most likely to get severely skewed?  They are complementary, as well, building positively on each other in the same way that noise and avoidance build negatively.

So… feeling overwhelmed?  Turn of the computer, go somewhere that you can be alone and quiet, and tell your avoidance instinct to shut up when it tries to keep you from being quiet.  Then, after you’ve done that for a while (it doesn’t have to be thirty minutes when you’re first starting, though it does help), go do something of your choosing.  It doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as you don’t feel like you are required to do it.

You’ll start feeling better the first day you do both things, and the more days in a row you do it, the further from you that feeling of being overwhelmed will be.

Written By Jason Ivers

Officiale website; http://www.amiracleaday.com/


Comments

2 Responses to “Feeling Overwhelmed – What, Why, And How To Fix It…”
  1. Eleanie says:

    I have been in that place (feeling overwhelmed) many times. I am still trying to get a grasp and do what helps me to relax. I have discovered that is to exercise and write. Thank you for an excellent read.

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  1. […] staff at ThyBlackMan.com have put together an excellent piece on handling the overwhelming feelings we seem to get so often.  They recommend setting aside two 30 minute periods each day.  In the […]



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