What’s your overwhelm trying to tell you?
Most of the time I roll my eyes at social media memes and quotes. Then I came across one so beautifully simple and accurate that I found it irresistible. It said
It seems obvious doesn’t it? Except so many of us are caught stuck in a state of overwhelm trying to do everything.
My clients are conscientious and have a very strong work ethic. They often manage teams and have to juggle the competing demands of their work, the work of those they manage, family commitments, life admin and try to squeeze things like socialising or activities they love like being creative or walking in nature.
Then there’s all the unspoken expectation they place upon themselves. The ‘shoulds’. The self-imposed deadlines or the habit of tending to everyone else’s needs before their own. They ‘should’ be happier, have more fun, be more productive, be slimmer, drink less, have more sex, be a good person, save the world, make more money and be wildly successful.
Exhausting, isn’t it?
I hate overwhelm and I know you do too
Overwhelm is not a good place to be in. When I’m overwhelmed I cry a lot. I am also much more snappy and my attention is scattered in 1000 different directions at once. I don’t sleep well. I feel tired and confused. Because I feel tired and confused I make poor choices, I’m not productive and I start to doubt myself. In every possible way.
Because I’m lucky enough to do the job that I do, I know that I am not alone in feeling this way. I work with people to help them create happier work or perform optimally. When they try to introduce new habits, shed old skins, let go of old patterns and take action in relation to goals, overwhelm naturally rears its head.
The role of overwhelm
The reason overwhelm appears at this point is that it’s trying to tell you something. I cannot tell you exactly what it’s trying to tell you because your circumstances are perspective on life is completely unique.
What I do know is that the human body is homeostatic. It wants equilibrium and balance. And so overwhelm kicks in to remind us of that and is normally a prompt to change something. It might be to do something or, more likely, to do less of something.
One of the principles that guides my work is that ‘all behaviour has a positive intention’. I try to live out that principle as much as I can. As a mum of a toddler and a business-owner, overwhelm is something I have to be very aware of. I know I need to get quiet and listen to it.
Usually the message is a reminder that I am a human being and my time and energy are finite. Of course I can do anything. I just can’t do everything. Whilst I might really resent that message at times, I know it’s full of wisdom.
What’s your overwhelm trying to tell you? I would love to hear from you about what it might be prompting you to change.