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What Exactly is Whelm, and How to Overcome It

Contrary to what most of us have learned, we must take care of ourselves first in order to authentically care for others. We just cannot give from an empty cup, or drive a car without gas. Even though we may have good intentions, when we force ourselves to take on more than we can gracefully handle, in out attempt to make a difference and teach about prosperity and possibility, we are instead modeling poverty and lack.

So it’s an important question to ask. Are you feeling overwhelmed? What exactly is the ‘whelm’ we are always trying to get over?

Overwhelm is defined as being overcome in thought or feeling, being decisively defeated, or rendered powerless. So how do we become overwhelmed by joy, rather than stress? My suggestion, even though you may not like it…

Give up multi-tasking. Well, maybe not completely, but at least when you find yourself frantic and reacting, rather than responding to life’s potholes. Trying harder only leads to disaster. Rather than go ‘cold-turkey’ at least make your multi-tasking more conscious. Don’t settle for just meandering through life on autopilot or attempting to force life along. It may work for a while, or at least appear to, but eventually you’ll have a six-car pile up! Trust me, you don’t want to miss the joys of the moment, and when you run too fast focused on all that’s not working, you miss out on the simple joys and miracles of NOW. When we move too fast and do too much, we aren’t really experiencing anything along the way.

Have you ever driven somewhere, and several miles later realizing that you don’t remember how you got there? Multi-tasking is usually the culprit. You were most likely lost in your thoughts of past events you cannot change or were pondering the future that hasn’t even arrived. Resetting your compass to greater consciousness of the present moment allows you to learn from the past you cannot change and manifest the future you want. Happiness calls for focus and inner calm. When life moves at such a fast pace, we think that if we just go a little faster that we will eventually catch up. This is a myth! In just one day we are expected to process as much information as our parents processed over a period of two years!

More…Resisting it won’t help. Trying to out-run or out-think life only depletes our energy, and yet we keep trying harder what has proven not to work. Isn’t this the definition of insanity? The solution is not in speed, but rather in making creative conscious choices and overcoming our limited thinking. The quality of our thoughts is crucial. What we think is so important usually isn’t. We need to become more aware of and then enhance the quality of our thoughts.

If our food is moldy we stop eating it and throw it out. We need to do the same with our stinking thinking. First, become more conscious of the thoughts you are allowing that guide your choices, then gradually shift your conversation to replace unconscious thoughts.

We wonder what’s missing. Life is what we’re missing when we’re overly attached to our plans or running here and there attempting to do it all. In doing so we promote ourselves to a level of incompetence. We have to accept that we are co-creators, not the boss of life, we are not meant to do it all, and control is only an illusion. When we do not have control over the circumstances, what we do have influence over is how we perceive them.

Greater peace comes from expanding our ability to appreciate what is working while making sometimes challenging choices, and yes, even letting some things drop. Although it may feel like it catastrophe will happen when we say ‘no’ to something, it seldom does. We actually get clearer about what we want and detour from being a ‘people pleaser’. More durable happiness finds us when we learn how to go with the flow, rather than insist on keeping our finger in the dyke by multi-tasking at break-neck speed.

It’s true. We live in a hectic world and we feel especially called to make positive change. This is why we must be honest about the importance of our self-care in order to have the courage and stamina, insights and creativity necessary to affect and implement change. Too often we over-extend ourselves by making the ‘small stuff’ the ‘big stuff’, and when the ‘big stuff’ really does happen, we have no reserves to help us through. The war outside reflects the war that lives in each of us.

How do we make the accelerated pace stop, or at least slow down? Well, as far as I can tell, it won’t until we can slow down a bit within. Life has evolved and the outer demands have change significantly over the past one hundred years. It is likely to continue to move faster and faster. Let’s face it, my grandchildren can work a computer and T.V. remote better than most of us, and records and cassette tapes are things of the past. But we don’t need to allow ourselves to be so beat up by change. We need to create a way to make friends with it.

Change, and I mean rapid change will just keep accelerating, but don’t ‘give up’… as in despair. ‘Give up’… as in surrender to ‘what is’, trusting that in every moment, even the messy ones, are valuable opportunities for joy if we adjust our ability to see them. Surround yourself with those who support and help you to stretch toward your highest and best visions.

It was Winston Churchill who said, “If you’re going through hell, don’t stop there.” Be persistent in your personal growth journey, accepting that there are forward and backward steps, and that sometimes the road is rocky. Peace lies in adjusting your perspective and is expanded and fostered by connecting with those who acknowledge your talents and encourage your self-care. Circle is a place where you can connect with others also focused on making their journey meaningful.

Thoughts create things, so adjust your perspective, calm your self-judgments, and help to make your thoughts good ones. It is our corrupt thinking that makes the challenges we face difficult. Develop the habit of thinking from the ‘inside-out’, rather than the ‘outside-in’. Focus on making value based choices that make our words, actions and intentions match.

To make the most meaningful contribution amidst this hectic pace, we are called to adjust how we face life’s challenges in order to stay happy and healthy. Instead of moving faster, we must dare to become more discerning with our thinking and more mindful about allowing grace to lead the way to happiness. This is a time when quality is more important than quantity and simple, small steps are often best.

When you find yourself overwhelmed and doing six things at once, take a deep breath and be fully present in what you’re doing. Remember that when we are over-stressed our creativity and problem solving abilities disappear. Slow down, make conscious and discerning choices, find something to laugh at and appreciate, and refocus. You will find you actually get more done and enjoy the precious present.

Wait, isn’t that multi tasking?


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