Freedom From Emotional Overwhelm Part 2

Written by on September 15, 2020 in Emotional Mastery
Freedom From Emotional Overwhelm Part 2

I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.

~Mother Teresa

This is one of my favorite quotations, and it seems particularly appropriate for the second of our 2-part series on finding freedom from emotional overwhelm.

For the record, no one is immune.

You may think you are. Maybe you were raised to tough it out, told that admitting you’re feeling the strain of life is wimping out, but to that, I say phooey!

Anyone who isn’t feeling more stressed than usual these days isn’t paying attention.

Even if you haven’t been directly affected by the virus, financial hardship, or a natural disaster, you could still find yourself feeling exhausted and emotionally overwhelmed.

There’s information overload, lost opportunities and canceled plans, prolonged uncertainty, and the endless string of images and stories of hardship and suffering.

Every single one of us is feeling the stress of life in a hundred different ways.

On the plus side, there is a mountain of free tips and advice readily available online to help you soothe frayed nerves.

The problem is that most of us are notoriously lax when it comes to caring for our own needs, but more importantly, these quick fixes aren’t sustainable because they don’t address the core issues.  

So, what’s the answer?

The first step is to stop wasting energy blaming conditions for our stress, and recognize that the real problem is that our thoughts and feelings are being hijacked by emotions screaming for attention.

Overwhelm is a State of Mind

Imagine you’ve just lost your job as a result of the struggling economy, your stress level is off the chart, and you’re feeling overwhelmed about your situation.

Unless you’re independently wealthy and hated the job anyway, you are going to feel waves of emotion ranging from shock and fear to rage. This is normal.

The turning point, for better or worse, is what you do next.

You could shut down and attempt to deny reality, or react recklessly in the heat of the moment.

Either reaction would almost surely make the situation worse than it already is.

Or, you could recognize your emotions for what they are, and give yourself the space you need to feel what you feel, knowing that the wave will pass.

Either way, you still have the problem to deal with, but when you manage your emotions in a healthy and productive way you can do it from a balanced mental state.

This not only feels a lot better it enables you to find more and better solutions and even opportunities for growth with a greater sense of control and confidence.

Learning to understand and master your emotions is the key to finding freedom from overwhelm.

6 Step Strategy to Shift Your Emotions

Here is a simple 6 step strategy that can help you to create a positive shift in your mental and emotional state.

Push Pause

To consistently and consciously take control of your emotions requires the ability to be present at the moment.

This is a skill that takes time and commitment to fully develop, but it is possible to get to a point where you realize your emotions have been triggered at the moment it happens rather than hours or days later.

Imagine all the time and energy you’ll save, not to mention how much more confident and in control you will feel.


Don’t just breathe, take slow intentional breaths. The way you breathe determines the intensity of your emotions.

Short and shallow breathing can induce fear, anxiety, and anger.

Breathing deeply slows your heart and makes you feel calmer which enables you to focus your attention.

Identify the Emotion(s)

Are you feeling sad? Anxious? Angry? Afraid?

The ability to identify your emotions is incredibly important for your well-being in general, and for addressing stress and overwhelm in particular.

The more aware you are of what you are feeling, the quicker you’ll be able to regain a sense of emotional balance and create a plan to process the core issue.

Let Yourself Feel

Give yourself space to feel your emotion at its full capacity. Don’t try to control or deny what you are feeling.

Simply breathing is a good start because you’re dealing with your emotions differently and more healthily.

Even declaring out loud “I am so (angry, frustrated, disappointed, etc.) right now!” can ease tension and help to regain perspective.

Process the Emotion(s)

Sometimes the true source of our stress seems obvious, but often, we allow many smaller issues to build, under the excuse of picking our battles.

Then one day a seemingly unimportant event triggers you all to hell.

The best tool I’ve found to uncover problems, challenge negative thinking, and induce healing, in general, is a personal journal.

The therapeutic benefits of journaling have been scientifically proven for being an effective tool for stress management, the processing of difficult emotions, and creating personal growth.

A good example of how this can work is a story about a former client who blamed her sleepless nights and unprovoked angry outbursts on her mother-in-law who incessantly gave unsolicited advice on how she could be a better wife and mother.

After dedicating some time to reflect on her feelings and experiences in her journal, she realized that the real issue went much deeper.

She felt hurt and betrayed by her husband for failing to stand up for her.

With this understanding, she was able to develop a plan to express her feelings to her husband and solicit his support to establish some long-overdue boundaries for the family.

Let it Go

For many people, the last step in this strategy will be the toughest.

On the difficulty meter letting go is right up there with practicing forgiveness.

Replaying hurtful or annoying events over and over again doesn’t change anything, any more than wishing something had turned out differently, or never happened at all.

So, allow yourself to feel your emotions, process them in a healthy and productive way. And let go.

Here are a few common signs that stress and overwhelm are building and the basic steps to create an emotional shift.

Emotional Overwhelm
Click on Image to download poster in PDF

Do not allow negative feelings and emotions to control your mind. Emotional harm does not come from others it is conceived and developed within ourselves.

~Carlos Slim

The Takeaway

We all experience stress and occasional feelings of overwhelm. No one is immune.

More often than not, we attribute these feelings to circumstances or the bad behavior of others.

Someone shows up late, and you’re angry. You get some negative feedback, and you sulk in sadness. You recycle a remark someone made to you over and over wondering what they really meant.

When everything is familiar and comfortable, you relax, but faced with an unexpected change or a seemingly insurmountable problem and your mind goes on high alert, ready to react.

This is what it feels like when your thoughts and feelings have been hijacked by your emotions, and it may be that the worst part is how easy it is to get stuck in this emotional state and related behavior patterns.

Learning to consistently and consciously manage your emotional responses will transform your life. 

Once emotions aren’t in the driver’s seat, you’re able to respond to your experiences with clarity, logic, and intelligence.

And this changes everything.

Related reading:
Will you be the passenger or the driver in your life journey?
About Marquita A. Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach, and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies, and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living Start Here.

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