Master Your Emotions to Conquer Overwhelm

Written by on November 12, 2019 in Emotional Mastery

We all experience overwhelm from time to time, it’s the price we pay for living in a breathtakingly beautiful world that can go from awesome to boring to terrible and back to awesome in the span of days if not hours. 

But there’s a difference between an occasional bout of stress and the sensation that your emotions have taken control of your thoughts and actions. It’s an intense feeling, like waves crashing over you again and again as you’re struggling to catch a breath.

Sometimes the cause is a single major stressor such as the loss of a loved one, a health crisis or sudden unwelcome change.

But more often than not, overwhelm is the result of many small stressors that build over time until a tipping point is reached, and just like finding yourself on the crest of a wave, you suddenly feel powerless to do anything but ride it out.  

Getting stuck in overwhelm can lead to burnout, mental stress and physical health problems. It is surely not fun to experience, but sometimes we just don’t know how to move forward.

Mainstream advice tells us to take action, any action to create forward movement and while that makes sense as far as it goes, you first need to focus on reclaiming your power to make decisions that will serve you rather than feed your emotions.

Overwhelmed: Reclaiming Your Power

Push Pause

Ironically, once we find ourselves sucked into the vortex of overwhelm it seems to be in our nature to respond by doing even more, trying to convince ourselves that if we just push a little harder that eventually we’ll catch up and finally get off the treadmill. 

The problem is you can’t escape overwhelm from a place of overwhelm.

You need to be able to step away and gain some perspective because the stress you’re feeling doesn’t come from what’s going on in your life, it comes from your thoughts about what’s going on in your life.

So, the best gift you can give yourself is a little breathing room (literally and figuratively) to regain clarity and balance.

Claim Your Emotions

Overwhelm is not the result of the circumstances of your life, it is your emotional response to those events.  

In other words, the root cause of overwhelm is not your endless task list or commitment overload, the idiot boss or barely tolerable job, not even the failure of others to keep their promises or carry their share of the load.

It’s your response to these things.

For your own health and well-being, you need to give yourself permission to feel sad, angry, or afraid. Cry. Kick the stuffing out of your pillows. Let it all out!

Only by accepting your feelings – the good with the bad – can you let them go and begin to change how you feel and free yourself to find solutions to whatever challenges you may be facing.

Acceptance is implicitly akin to saying, “Okay, this well and truly sucks, but I will deal with it, find a way to learn something from it, and I will be okay.”

Best of all, as soon as you stop resisting and accept a stress-inducing negative emotion, it begins to lose its destructive power over you.

Identify Your Triggers

We each have certain hot buttons that trigger an emotional reaction.

A trigger serves as a short-cut to evoke a situation that is associated with an unpleasant experience or strong emotion in the past.

It creates a sort of emergency gut reaction to alert us to get out of that situation.

Maybe you struggle to say ‘no’ even when you want to, make a habit of consistently put the wants and needs of others ahead of your own, or will do anything to avoid confrontation because you fear rejection and abandonment.

Like many others, I was bullied as a kid. My personal triggers include deep-rooted feelings about equal justice, mutual respect, and compassion for those in need.

Of course, getting to the bottom of why you respond to certain triggers take time and patience, but it is well worth the effort if you are serious about ridding yourself of those pesky feelings of overwhelm once and for all.

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

Do ONE Thing That Moves You Forward

I am a big believer in the do ONE thing approach to achieving goals or pushing through whatever challenges we may be facing in life.

In fact, I had a cup made with the slogan “Just One More” on the side to remind myself to take one more step, tackle one more challenge, do one more thing that moves me forward on the life path I am creating for myself.

It also represents the philosophy behind my new eBook Focus2020.

What is your greatest fear in life? Call it your Master Hot Button.

How would it change your life for the better if you focused your energy next year on overcoming that fear and turning it into your superpower?

Or maybe you could tackle that ONE thing that scares you most about your future, or finally reach for the dream you’ve been putting off for years.

The possibilities are endless and FOCUS is the key!

Closing Thoughts

We can’t always change our circumstances, but neither do we have to be defined by them.

When we allow overwhelm, stress, and anxiety to gain control over our choices and response to life, it adversely affects everything from our health and well-being, to the quality of our relationships.

It keeps us from achieving our full potential and creating the kind of life we really want and deserve to live. 

Ultimately, this is about taking ownership.

Choose not to be ruled by your emotions and overwhelm cannot survive.

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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