It is normal to feel stress. It is normal to get run down from time to time. It is normal to need a break.
But, what happens when your normal starts to look like overwhelm all the time? When this constant, heightened level of stress never abates, nothing replenishes your batteries, everything you try doesn’t last, you’ll go bananas if one more thing doesn’t go as planned. What do you do when this description is a daily occurrence? We are far past stress management, when overwhelm becomes our normal.
Most people will simply resign to a mindset of “that’s just the way it is”. I mean, what do you do when you’ve done your best to do all the doing, keep up with the responsibilities of life, maybe try to squeeze in some self care, but more often than not, always feel behind and never feel satisfied with what you have or what you have done. Time feels like it’s running out, and the cycle continues.
Most people feel like there is a ditch being dug, and they have no way to stop it.
Or, maybe you are familiar with the Myth of Sisyphus? In Greek mythology the king of Corinth was condemned to push a rock up a mountain; upon reaching the top, the rock would roll down again, leaving Sisyphus to start over.
We are not as alone and isolated as we think. So many people feel this way, in the quiet moments of the day. Many people feel like they are in a car going too fast but they are in the back seat. Out of control, but doing their best.
Advice to get out from the cycle of overwhelm.
1 – We need to Adapt in order to survive. This is different from tolerating a poo poo experience of life. Our evolutionary adaptation right now as over-doing people is to practice and strengthen our ability to be flexible and TRUST ourselves. Our adaptation needs to include BEing, while we are in the midst of doing. At the end of the day, it’s just stuff, and there will always be stuff. We fall into fear and worry FAR too easily over the smallest things. What if nothing is wrong? What if there is no perfect way? Who is to say what you are doing isn’t good enough? You are going to figure this out, just like all the other times before. Learn to trust yourself, and BE while you are doing.
“It’s always impossible until it’s done.” Nelson Mandela
2 – Presence is a practice. It is not something you ever arrive at, it is a moment to moment choice, but more accurately, it is a peaceful experience of life you can align with that is just below or above all the noise of life. Presence is not a special place only people in monk robes or those that reside on mountaintops have access to. In order to navigate a typical day in our modern world, we need to stop having all the files open in our brain open in an attempt not to drop any balls. People who are addicted to their left brain want to brush off presence as some intangible thing that has no place in succeeding in modern life, or “the real world.” The left brain doesn’t like presence, it doesn’t feel in control letting life flow, and that feels scary. The left brain focused mind, coming from fear, doesn’t trust Presence yet. Presence is the wimpy kid on the field of a ball game that you don’t want to pick for your team because you want to win. Until, the little buddha hits a home run, and runs effortlessly like a cheetah from base to base in ways that defy normal logic. This wimpy kid, Presence, has ways your big burly brain could never imagine. It is intelligent and tapped into intelligence and creation itself. It was always meant to be used, but we have got out of practice. Upon using Presence more and more, you too will create enough evidence for your burly, thinky-thinky mind to calm down and let the intelligence of life stream through you. Presence can then do its job to calm you, and direct you when life gets hectic and it all feels like too much.
3 – Acceptance NOT harshness. Do not make yourself wrong for feeling stressed, have compassion for yourself. Don’t compare yourself to other people’s stress. There is an intelligence tuned to each of us and your stress is your unique experience of life. You are entitled to your own experience. Making yourself wrong for feeling feelings just contributes to overwhelm. If we just let stress be stress, then we can rest once the doing is done. We don’t need to obsess, and worry and make ourselves wrong on top of all the other stressors of life. When there are things to be done, DO, when it is done, rest and BE.
Overwhelm becomes normal when we don’t acknowledge ourselves for how well we are doing. When we let harsh self-thoughts run in our mind on repeat. Stuff is going to always need to be done. Life is always evolving and expanding. Chill out, you will never get it all done. Make your focus each day to be present to the day—the nuances, the fresh aliveness of the moments, you know, your life.
If you are always chasing the elusive moment when you will get everything done, you will always feel overwhelmed because you are out of sync with life itself.