Yet there’s nothing new in this overwhelming existence of ours. Humans have felt overwhelmed ever since man and woman discovered fire and that rain storms put out the flames! Try spending the majority of your day hunting for food, dragging water from the distant river, and fending off wild animals. Nothing’s really changed for us in the last 200,000 years.
So what do you do about being overwhelmed? Here are some practical steps to take.
- Identify what you love about your life, your career, your job, especially if you’re not naturally optimistic. Unless you take stock of the good that you actually enjoy (and sometimes take for granted) you may forget the reasons why you bother to wake up in the morning.
- What stories do you tell yourself throughout your day? These are the yarns we recount that have to do with our personal relationship with the universe, with nature, with others. How do you frame these stories? Are they tales of catastrophe, sadness, doubt, or fear? Are they stories of opportunity, beauty, awe, or transcendence? Remember, we tend to “become” our stories, so let’s choose wisely.
- Name how you feel like a victim. It’s okay…dredge up those past events from childhood, teen years, previous jobs, and relationships where you’ve felt put down. Name your victimhood and then ask your victim-self what’s going on. Why do you continue to recall stresses and traumas that only reinforce the uncomfortable feelings associated with them….and then cripple your ability to see yourself as you truly are in this moment?
- Name the three top issues about your work or home life that you find overwhelming. Okay you may have thirty, but let’s just stick with the top three. By naming them out loud, you can hear what they sound like, the tension in your voice, the frustration in your heart. Pinpointing how you feel overwhelmed gets it out of your head and onto paper where you can examine it more dispassionately.
- Honestly name three areas in performance you know you can improve on at work or home. Let’s face facts…your situation at work is never entirely “their” fault. What part are you playing to make your experience miserable? Name it out loud and identify areas where you may be totally unrealistic, or codependent, or perfectionistic, or judgmental, or lazy, or overly idealistic.
- Name three ways you can improve your attitude toward your work, colleagues, or family. This ties into number 5. Of course you can change! What practical steps can you take that indicate you really want that job today, that you love your spouse or partner? You may not be there in six months, but today you need to show your integrity by bringing your talents and brains to the tasks at hand…just for today. Tomorrow will take care of itself, with your help.
- Name three values that form the core of your life, for which you’d sacrifice anything to protect or preserve. What’s really important to you, after stripping away all the extras? What is at the heart of who you are and how you define your value to the universe? Defining your core values will help you identify what kinds of work you ought to be doing and friends you ought to keep.
- Where are you wasting time and what else could you be doing with that time to add value to your life? Yes, I mean you, sitting in front of the television and surfing through channels during commercials. Also you, dilly-dallying on the computer as if you’re doing something important. When was the last time you cooked a good meal for yourself, put on some music, and ate at the table with a nice placemat and china? When was the last time you visited a museum, took a walk in nature, or invited friends to your home for a drink? Oh! Your home’s a mess? Well when are you going to clean it up and create a dignified space for your life to unfold?
- What one new behavior will you adopt today to change how you feel about your life and job? Just one. Start small, but start today. And suddenly you may feel less overwhelmed because you’ve cleared out the emotional and psychic cobwebs. You now have space to grow!
About the Author: Michael Parise was a Roman Catholic priest for 32 years. He is now a life & spirit coach and speaker, with over 35 years of experience in helping hundreds find their true calling in life. Michael has helped many professionals and executives save themselves from drowning in responsibilities at home and at work by finding balance and peace.
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Text and artwork copyrighted by Michael Parise