There is the overwhelm from choices that have to be made and the overwhelm from the amount of tasks that there are to do. There is overwhelm from emergency events, or long-term effects from long forgotten choices. Overwhelm happens to all of us, in different ways, from different things. But, that sense of fear, dread, or not being able to make a choice is the same for everyone.
Overwhelm is being stuck in your head and unable to move forward. You think your burden is so great you couldn't possibly take another step.
It all starts with our mindset.
1. Negative Mindset/ Lack of Self-Care
Before we are even to the point of overwhelm our thoughts are in a negative place, which leads us to overwhelm easily. This is especially when you feel that one additional task on your to do list will send you over the edge.
You have already been telling yourself that you are stretched to the max. You have told yourself that you cant possibly take on anymore without losing it. These thoughts do nothing but set you up to fall later on.
Another big part of this is not taking care of yourself. You are running low on gas and maybe have a decent dialogue going in your head. But, a few bumps in the road can make it super easy to be negative, when you haven’t been sleeping enough, getting your alone time, or working out like you need too.
So, take a look right now at what you are telling yourself. Are you setting yourself up to have overwhelm later this week? Today? Tonight?
2. You are Given One to Many Choice
Next thing that happens is that you are given one additional task to do, one more choice to make, one more emotional thunderstorm to deal with. There is a choice in there. When will you do that additional task? What you are supposed to make for dinner? Should Tina be invited to girl's night or is 5 enough?
All choices. On their own they would be easy. But, when we are doing a lot, and have been reaffirming that we have been doing too much, for too many, with too little for, too long, well we know where that leads.
Remember that this stage with a positive mindset, and self-care doesn't lead to the next stage.
3. Brain Freezes Up or Mind Confirms Negative Talk on Overwhelm
When the brain gets too many choices it will go on the fritz. When this happens it freaks out and causes fear, which leads you to believe you are overwhelmed. Remember that the brain will make us believe some very irrational fears, because thats what it does. It likes to point out everything we should be afraid of.
Since, we don’t have to worry about being attacked by wild animals, or a warring clan, the brain has to find other things to be afraid of, like one to many choices. Sounds a little funny now, doesn’t it.
The other overwhelm of too many tasks to do, comes from stage one where you now confirm that you couldn’t possibly take on any more. And since, you couldn't possibly take on anymore, time to freak out.
4. From These Circumstances Your Thoughts Become Negative
What you tell yourself now is that you can’t make the “right” choice. There is too much to weigh and decide. You tell yourself that you don’t have the ability to do it.
When there is just one too many tasks your thoughts go to, I knew I couldn’t handle all this. I knew I was going to fail, mess this up, or have to work late hours.
Isn't it fantastic when you predict the future and you are right?! Especially about the awful, overwhelming, negative stuff. Yeah, didn't think so. Makes you wonder, if I had some different thoughts, would this be any better. I can tell you right now, yes. But, that is for next week's newsletter, I will share tactics to help you back track out of each these stages in the overwhelm cycle.
5. Reaction to the Negative Feelings Is to Feel Fear, Overwhelm, Stress, Worry, Doubt, Dread
From those thoughts you begin to feel pretty awful. You are worried and stressed about making these decision. You fear that you will make the wrong one and that choice will ruin other choices and future opportunities.
You feel stuck, unsure of how to move forward. Do you keep working the 12 hours days, while it sucks the life out of you, or do you try and figure something else out?
Your feelings lead to actions.
6. Actions or Inaction
Often, overwhelm leads to inaction. You want to bury your head in the sand and ignore the amount of stress that is weighing on you. Often this looks like taking a nap or procrastinating.
It also means not making a choice. Not moving out of the bad situation, because it would involve trying to figure out what to do next, and there feels like too many choices or none at all.
So, you stay stuck in overwhelm, until something changes. It is as simple as and as hard as changing your thoughts.
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