I think that “overwhelm” results from losing sight of who we are and what we want. We sacrifice parts of ourselves, and compromise core values that define our essence, until we begin to dissolve under the weight of pretending we are “fine”. (Check out this brilliant definition of “FINE” from the film The Italian Job: Freaked-out, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional.)
Self-sacrifice ultimately leaves you incomplete, resentful and angry. These feelings limit your ability to creative problem solve until you are drowning in what you no longer have the adaptive juices to address. It’s a “sacrificial trap” that eventually leads to depression.
This cognitive deficit is the result of living in a state of panic, running purely on adrenaline like an animal in flight. Adrenaline is great for quick moves, rapid responses, feats of strength and agility… and not much else. Over time, living in survival mode not only takes its toll on our psyche, and our relationships, but it also beats up our bodies. What’s worse, we’ve got no emotional reserves to draw upon to think our way out. It’s just react, and put out fires one match at a time.
So, what’s to be done? First off, we need to reconnect to what matters to us by reclaiming those sacrificed parts of ourselves.
Think back to a moment in your life when you felt truly alive, connected, and at peace with yourself and the world around you. Ideally, you are looking for what Abraham Maslow deemed a “Peak Experience”.
Peak Experiences bring feelings of:
- Wholeness & authenticity
- Limitless horizons
- Power and vulnerability at once and loving it
- Life affirming & ego transcending
- Filled with wonder
- When time stood still
These experiences reveal your core values and what it feels like to live them. Without these values you lose touch with what matters to you, and become a little smaller, and less of who you knew you could be day, by day, by day…
What values do your Peak Experiences reveal? What if you have values around Nature, Connectedness, Freedom to choose, Joy, Physical Movement & Humor and you are in a sedentary job that isolates you, bogs you down, where no one ever laughs? Remember that “cognitive deficit”? When you’re this dissatisfied, how can you think clearly? Should you leave your job? Maybe, and/or make sure you pursue other ways to bring some of those values into your life.
One way out from under the overwhelm comes through answering this simple question: What do you want? “A house, a car, a spouse, a family …” No… what do you really want? These things translate out to core values: A house might mean “Security”. A car might mean “Freedom”. A spouse or family might mean “Connection/Love”. Getting the picture? By reintroducing more of your core values, the answers on how to respond to “overwhelm” are revealed.
To some extent, you’re overwhelmed because you’re living a life you created in survival mode. Remember, in survival mode you don’t think you react. What you create in survival mode reflects who you are when you’re “F.I.N.E.”
To Ride the Wave, you’ve got to re-connect to your Self.
Step One: Bring back at least one of your core values… and take it from there.
Always infinite possibilities, always your choice.
Music Credit: Hawaii Five-O Original Theme song copyright ©1968? Mort Stevens and His Orchestra