Overwhelmed: Keep It Simple


No. 40
Posted on 3/6/2017 by Mark Hutchinson

"Man has a limited biological capacity for change. When this capacity is overwhelmed, the capacity is in future shock."
- Alvin Toffler

"Sound character provides the power with which a person may ride the emergencies of life instead of being overwhelmed by them. Failure is... the highway to success."
- Og Mandino



It is difficult to have a positive attitude when you’re feeling overwhelmed. In fact, it seems like it is hard to do much of anything when you’re overwhelmed.

As I was researching quotes related to this state of being “stuck” by having too many things going on, I discovered that most of the quotes out there talking about being overwhelmed are primarily about the emotional avalanche that comes from a large amount of caring and support. People often feel “overwhelmed” with gratitude. Interesting.

So maybe it’s not just about dealing with pure change, but with high levels of emotion that we don’t know how to or can’t process effectively. Perhaps the volume of changes or the size of a change is triggering a certain amount of emotional response, and like eating food, we can only digest it so fast.

In taking this slightly different approach to seeing change as a precursor to the emotional load it seems to make sense that learning how to reframe changes and the emotions related to them would help a great deal with feelings of being overwhelmed. How do you “package” the situation when change hits?

Can skills be developed to handle change? Of course they can. We’ve all done it. Yet maybe not often as conscious effort in skill building.

Do you remember learning how to ride a bike or drive a car? In those activities we are dumping a huge amount of sensory input and task coordination on to ourselves in a rapidly changing environment: i.e. not falling over on the bike and not running into things with the car. Yes, it was frustrating and difficult at first, but now? I suspect it is actually not a big deal for you anymore and you might even find those activities enjoyable.

Maybe there is some limit on how many things a person can handle, but at least we can build up our abilities by packaging lots of little things into one thing or a really big thing into one simple thing. This is how we ride a bike and drive a car.

So if things are too much, coming in too fast, are too complicated to deal with, try to boil them down to simple, single things. Life can seem simple when it is consistent and predictable and you are just “doing your day”. Easy, no stress, got it handled. But even when there are lots of things going on, just make that part of the “do your day” thing. It is much more important to keep doing your day as well as you can, instead of being overwhelmed by everything and find yourself stuck and shutdown. See it as one thing, do it as one thing and it gets easier.

Let’s go do our week!


~ Mark
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