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Overwhelm is a feeling of being turned upside down. It is a state of mind, not a state of circumstance. That simple fact is the key that will unlock the door to your mental prison cell and set you free! Let me state it again. Overwhelm is a state of mind, not a circumstance.

Overwhelm is not produced by what is occurring. It is your mental processing of what’s occurring that produces overwhelm. Your brain responds to thoughts and produces chemicals that cause feelings and physical sensations. Perhaps a stiff drink or tranquilizer can mask the feelings of overwhelm, and if you ingest enough, perhaps produce temporary unconsciousness or amnesia. But the circumstance remains, and if you don’t dispose of the head trash, you will return to the feeling of anxiety and blame the circumstances.

Overwhelm, being swamped, feeling stressed, losing control; It’s all a state of mind that can disappear without any change of circumstance. Here’s what to do.

First, accept the fact that overwhelm comes from thoughts, and that you can allow those thoughts to go away.

Dissolving overwhelm begins by distinguishing the subjective (what you are feeling and experiencing) from the objective (the facts of what is occurring). To do this, you might write down what is occurring in factual, objective language, like an investigator or reporter. No drama emotion or judgment in the narrative. Just a simple factual report of what is happening.

Then based on those facts, choose a reasonable response. A reasonable response is one that will likely produce a good outcome. Sometimes the most reasonable response is to do nothing, and just allow the thought and emotion to pass. If you will take a breath or two and be still, you will have a good sense of what to do. Once you are clear on a reasonable response, do it. If you see no clear action that that would improve the circumstance, then do nothing and move on to something else. This is using your ability to respond; being responsible.

Overwhelm thrives in a sea worry procrastination and inactivity. You can break that negative inertia. Staying overwhelmed is unnecessary, unhealthy, and certainly no fun. If you are feeling overwhelmed, find someone to help you get clear on the objective facts of what’s occurring, and then create an appropriate response and take it. Sometimes the best response is to quit taking it all so seriously and move on to something better! As you take ownership, overwhelm will dissolve and disappear.

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