We all have experiences of being overwhelmed. For some, this is a regular way of being. I have never met anyone however who likes experiencing all that comes along with it.
What happens to you when you are traveling along the road to overwhelm? Take a minute and bring to mind the last time you found yourself plagued with a sense of it all being just ‘too much’. Resurrect the details – not only the specific circumstances, but the thoughts associated with it. As you replay this, is there anything happening to your mood? What signals is your body sending you? Can you recall if any of these sensations were present during the actual episode?
Our bodies give us so many important cues about danger ahead – that we often ignore. When I ask my clients questions about what happens in their body when they are stressed or afraid, everyone is able to describe exactly what arises in them. It may be a pain in a particular area, or a churning in the gut, or butterflies in the chest. These are sensations that we typically describe as uncomfortable and perceive them as something outside of our control. But what would happen if instead of trying to outrun them, we turned toward them and asked ourselves “what’s going on?” These signals can actually be used to our advantage if we look at them as guide posts instead.
If we attended to our body’s warning lights as well as we did our car’s, ending up in a place of overwhelm would be a rare occurrence. You would never consider continuing to drive your car when your gas gauge was flashing that Empty was in your very near future. Or, your Check Brakes light was on for the last 100 miles (I actually did this once – it was a big mistake)
When we accept the help our body tries to give us, episodes of overwhelm happen much less frequently. Being aware of what your unique signals are is the first step toward effectively using them in ways that support you, and the well being of those you care about.