Being overwhelmed is a state we know is bad for us, and yet, we keep creating the circumstances that perpetuate it. We humans don’t do anything that doesn’t serve us. On some level, it has to benefit us, or we stop doing it. On some level – that is the critical component here. The benefitting might be happening at a very unconscious level.
I remember at the height of my weight – 350 pounds – working with a psychologist in France who asked me to list all the payoffs I was getting from being obese. I was so offended, I walked out of his office. And I didn’t come back for a few months, convinced he was out of his mind. But he had planted a seed, and I started looking at my life through the lens of my obesity being useful. How it protected me and kept me safe. How it stopped me from experiencing life and all its colors.
Boy, did that start me on a trajectory that affected my entire existence.
As I courageously started listing all the reasons that obesity was serving me, the pounds began to shed. I went back to the offending shrink, and we dove into the deepest work I’ve ever done on my personal journey – about weight and everything else.
If I looked at every element of my life through that same concept, being overwhelmed all the time revealed my deepest motivations. As long as I stayed overwhelmed, I didn’t focus on my purpose. Being overwhelmed sucked the life out of me and that prevented me from risking doing anything meaningful. Being overwhelmed justified my lack of focus and gave me a sense of busyness that drowned little feelings like fear of death or being insignificant.
It took losing my closest friend to a fluke aneurysm in our early twenties to wake me up. Making sure I pass my time meaningfully is no joke. It can all stop in an instant.
I did not try to stop being overwhelmed, but I did begin engaging with life with a whole new attitude. Dropping what meant nothing. Speaking to what mattered. Removing myself from situations that added no value to anyone.
Now when I’m overwhelmed, it is a fleeting feeling because I have a lot on my plate. Because I am committed to all sorts of projects I love with people I love. Not a chronic state to avoid being with myself. I don’t need to do that anymore.