Emotional Overwhelm? How to Hang In There
I am so frustrated I feel like giving up. I am struggling in so many areas of my life. My relationship is sort of “so so,” nothing horrible, but nothing to write home about either. I’m barely making it financially. Every time I turn around there is something else that happens, something else that needs my attention, some other problem. I feel like I can never get ahead. It isn’t so much like there is one awful thing happening, just a bunch of little things that are piling up and I’m not sure I can take it. Really, I surrender. I don’t even have a question for you. I guess I just want you to convince me to hang in there.
First of all, take a deep breath and tune into what is actually happening right now. Breathe again. So often when we slip into this level of overwhelm, it is when we look toward the future and try to handle all of time simultaneously—which is impossible. The result is serious overwhelm, frustration and despair. Instead, realize that all you can handle and all you need to handle is what is happening right now.
Most of us think the word “surrender” means that we have succumbed to defeat, that we have allowed another person (or circumstances) to win—and thus, ourselves to lose. But surrendering can be a far more empowering act if we switch the way we look at it. Rather than “giving up,” we can choose to surrender as an act of “offering up.”
In my experience, when I truly surrender my belief that I know, or I control, or it has to be my way, and offer it up to a higher source of power than my ego mind can manage, I am able to switch into acceptance and allowance, and peace becomes all-pervading instead of struggle. Regardless of your religious beliefs, I encourage you to recognize that there is a higher source of power within you than the ego mind (that is usually in charge of problems). As we align more with our authentic selves, we are better able to access our intuition, our wisdom, and our ability to identify solutions rather than just dwell on the problems.
Now, take another deep breath and let’s get practical. Another thing that makes us go into overwhelm is inaction. We leave things exactly the way they are, complain about them, blame other people for them, and allow the situation to work us into despair when really one action can make a huge difference and help us to get unstuck. It is hard to believe how huge of an impact one small action can make, but let’s take a look.
Let’s start with your relationship. The good news is that according to your own assessment, there is nothing horrible happening. So bumping a so-so relationship up to a good one, and then up to a great one may not take much effort at all. Let me ask you this: If you could do one thing that would spark your relationship up a level, like say 5 percent more fun, what would it be? What would happen if you made a point of hugging your partner when he/she got home from work? What would happen if you put down whatever else you were doing and showed genuine interest in your partner’s day? What would happen to your relationship if you reached out and initiated intimacy with your partner? What if you called during the day just to say hello? What if you planned and went on a date?
You may find that the same is true in every area of your life. Just start with one action in the direction you want the situation to move.
So often I hear people express their despair and a desire to give up only to discover that “just around the next bend” there is a much happier, healthier scenario. So avoid making permanent decisions for temporary problems and yes, definitely hang in there.
Intellectual Foreplay Question of the Week: What is one thing you can do, in each area of your life, that would make it work better?
Love Tip of the Week: Sometimes the simplest action is choosing gratitude. Being thankful has a funny way of turning things around.
A Spiritual Workbook for Children & Families
Someone to Watch Over Me is a sweet little gift for connecting with one's inner spirit, for giving voice to one's inner being, and for connecting one's essence with Guardian Protectors or Guides. Simple and inviting enough for children, lucid enough for adults...a precious offering."
Edward Espe Brown, Zen Priest, Author of The Tassajara Bread Book et al