Before you can break free, you’ve got to recognize that there is a pattern…
My more recent posts have looked at Overwhelm, Procrastination, Perfectionism and Survival Mode… what have they got in common? They constitute a pattern that I’m coining as OPPS℠.
There are no doubt times in our lives where we are truly overwhelmed; where we feel we are living in survival mode because of an enormously challenging event such as: the loss of employment, or a loved one, health issues, or financial blows. These circumstances come upon us and suddenly we are struggling to keep our heads above water. While my posts can certainly be used to reflect upon individual occurrences of Overwhelm, what I’m primarily referring to are patterns.
A pattern is some thing, or some type of experience, that shows up regularly in your life. Some patterns are helpful, like daily bathing or regular meals, for example. Other patterns… not so much (being late, losing stuff, regular arguments…). Look back and see if the overwhelm you’re experiencing hasn’t been going on for a very long time. When you regularly feel overwhelmed, or that you never get anything accomplished, you may have formed a pattern. Sometimes life just brings us a whole lot more of the unexpected than we, well, expected… but continually encountering challenging, unexpected events can be a pattern too.
The lens through which we view our lives deeply affects the patterns we develop, and we define ourselves by them. “I am overwhelmed and can’t get out from under,” is a familiar pattern (or story) that many of us have experienced as “true”. We have become “identified” with this reality and it is “how life is” for us. We repeat it under our breath either literally by telling ourselves what a hard time we’re having, or symbolically by racing around in reaction to everything rather than in response. (Reactions are reflexive, while Responses allow a choice. “How do I choose to respond to this, or that?”)
This reoccurring collection of overwhelming experiences and feelings is not coincidental because it has a common through-line: You. As “the Star” in the story of your life, you create much of the plot as you go. While it may appear to be simpler to choose a passive, “victim’s” role, and deny any responsibility for the story (or pattern), it will remain your only role till the end. Starting to claim your part in how your life has gotten overwhelming puts you into the driver’s seat and you get to decide where you’re going to go. Maintaining the role of the “hapless victim” throws you to the back of the bus.
So, what’s the OPPS℠ pattern? It’s a vicious circle and goes something like this: you’ve procrastinated about what you need to do because (in part) you want it to be “perfect”, this paralyses you and, like a deer in the headlights, you go into survival mode where you can think of nothing else: you’re overwhelmed. And round you go…
By acknowledging the pattern of OPPS℠ (Overwhelm, Procrastination, Perfectionism & Survival) as your own creation you become empowered and no longer have to live at the “mercy” of your overwhelming life.
How do you know if you’re trapped in a pattern of OPPS℠? If:
- You’re always in “survival mode” and feel “overwhelmed” & “frantic” most of the time
- You fill every hour with frenetic activity, and still “get nothing done”
- You’re uncomfortable when you have nothing to do
- Your mind tends to go to unpleasant places when idle
- You procrastinate until you feel overwhelmed by all that isn’t done
- Estimating time is a challenge for you, or you can’t break down the things to do…
If you can answer “Yes” to more than 3 of the above, you’re probably in a pattern of OPPS℠. Who could you “be” if you were no longer overwhelmed? Please comment below and let’s find out!
Overwhelm and Procrastination go hand-in-hand, and we create overwhelm as much through what we don’t do as through what we do. One key to stopping the pattern is stopping the procrastination!
More to come, on all aspects of OPPS℠ including “Why do we get trapped in OPPS in the first place?” and one way through it all, the “MAAG℠ model for Intentional Living.” Stay Tuned!
Always infinite possibilities, always your choice.
Music Credit (in pod cast): “A Thousand Beautiful Things” ©Copyright 2004 by Annie Lennox