Feeling overwhelmed is a daily routine. These days no one knows where to start. We get assaulted with wave after wave of bad news, of death and loss, and of COVID-19.
Overwhelm is a state of emotional paralysis when you feel that you’re unable to cope or handle the circumstances you face.
The entirety of the experience fogs our brain and hinders us from seeing things clearly. You become crippled with indecision.
But things don’t need to be this way.
It is so hard to focus with this much uncertainty. Your to-do list holds so many competing and different priorities that you feel anxious about starting anything.
Grinding for your goals
And in your depth of anxiety, you relinquish your stress to the couch and binge-watch Netflix instead of grinding for your goals.
I know this story, trust me, I know it too well.
We get overwhelmed when we struggle with too much information, too many choices or too many responsibilities.
The dictionary definition of overwhelm is too poignant not to share it: “to bury or drown beneath a huge mass; to defeat completely.” Oh damn!
I get it, we are buried beneath activities, to-do lists, commitments, career paths, the news, what to eat, and what to wear.
It is hardly surprising that we’re utterly defeated by the time it comes to making a decision.
The reality is that we are overwhelmed because, with so much conflicting information, we lack clarity on what we want! In this time of uncertainty, if we truly understood our dreams, goals, hopes, passions, and purpose, we would have a clear action plan.
Want to know the irony? Clarity only comes from execution and confidence comes from taking action! We can only have clarity in our lives when we try something, fail, try something new, and fail again.
So why should we be afraid of failure?
It might be obvious the direction I am going with this. We repeat these destructive cycles of fear, overwhelm, doing nothing and never trying.
The truth is that when we do nothing, we fail anyway.
The hard truth
To be overwhelmed is a choice. “Stop right there!” I hear you say. “You know nothing of my circumstances, you know nothing of what I have been through or what I am facing.”
It is a choice to perpetuate this cycle when we fail to give ourselves the time to prioritise and reflect on what needs to get done first or what’s most important.
When our anxiety peaks, we become paralysed, and we choose to do nothing.
And we decide to relinquish our dreams because it seems like too much effort and hard work.
We convince ourselves that the circumstances make it impossible, so don’t even bother trying.
What is overwhelmed?
It is when we feel as though we’re unable to handle or cope with our circumstances. It is a form of emotional paralysis.
It is common to feel you’re lacking control, which leads to your indecision. The feeling of overwhelm can result from having too many options or choices on hand.
When you’re mired in, overwhelm it feels like you are lodged in quicksand.
It is common to find yourself using phrases like “I’ll never get this done,” “This is too much for me,” “I can’t handle this,” “I can’t do it all by myself.”
These thoughts are toxic and will trigger feelings of anxiety and worry.
When your mind is filled with these thoughts, you may feel helpless and disempowered and pushed to make quick decisions.
Lack of clarity
This stems from your lack of clarity.
When overwhelmed, you can’t see things clearly.
This results in confusion and exposes you to feeling like things are out of your direct control and influence.
Your problems seem more significant and closer than they actually are, and you indulge in complaining, negativity, procrastination, and blaming your circumstances or others for your predicament.
You only end up more stressed and exhausted. And the destructive cycle perpetuates itself.
The challenge is that many of us are too comfortable in this state.
We decide to stay in this negative cycle rather than remove ourselves from it.
We prefer to blame something else or someone else for our inaction or missteps than accept that we’re 100% in control of our lives.
The blame game becomes the band-aid we apply to our wounds.
If being overwhelmed is a choice, and it is, we need to realise that we love choosing what’s known, comfortable, and safe.
Yes, I am saying that if you have chosen to be overwhelmed before then, you will choose it again.
Because it is known, comfortable and safe for you. It is your habit.
I said it earlier, clarity comes from execution and confidence comes from taking action. When you think you have tried everything and everything seems to fail, and you are still feeling overwhelmed, just do something.
Don’t give up because it’s too hard or you feel confused or don’t know where to start.
Start somewhere. It doesn’t matter if it’s the “right” step or the most logical step.
Try it anyway.
It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work out, at least you have the clarity from taking a step forward.
That clarity can help you get creative and find another way. Or, maybe it does work out, and you wouldn’t know this unless you took that step!
Clarity comes from execution.
We have to keep trying, keep moving forward and keep going to understand what works for us and what’s a giant waste of time.
Maya Angelou wrote: “When you do nothing, you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved, you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment.”
When you get involved and take powerful action it fuels forward movement. It provides the momentum you need to push past the feelings of overwhelm and on to bigger and better things.
If we believe that the journey is the reward, then we should not fill ours with inaction, stress, and overwhelm.
Power through your journey with confidence and clarity.