Your overwhelm is a teacher

Your overwhelm is a teacher – it’s guidance, letting you know that life is beginning to deliver the ‘more’ you’ve been asking for and that you have reached an ‘edge’ in your willingness to welcome it.

Overwhelm points up the ways that you believe you are not ready for the life that you’ve called toward you – your own doubts about whether you can ‘handle’ it. You can.

When Overwhelm arrives, you may think it’s about creating order; making a tighter schedule; cleaning up the house or controlling the people and circumstances that keep interrupting you, distracting you. It’s not. This teacher is about learning to welcome the full flow of what you’ve called into your life.

It’s about the courage to meet what comes.

It’s about doing the work to strengthen and maintain your ‘container’ so that you can.

This work is simple, though it can feel challenging, even terrifying because we are working with change… and though we ask for change – crafting vision board and setting goals and visualizing the spiffy new lifestyle we’re going to lead – we’re attached to our familiar ruts, our favorite haunts, our routines. So when the ground starts moving, we get upset and overwhelmed.

Here’s what to do:

1) Calm down. You have been overwhelmed before and survived it. You are capable of handling this situation – all of it.

2) Sit down. Close your eyes and instead of reacting to the overwhelm; instead of running from it with stories about how it’s going to take away your freedom, your time, that special afternoon ritual, let the overwhelm reveal its own story to you.

3) Listen to the overwhelm. Seek to know it, to see it. What IS this overwhelm? What has it come to show you? Let the overwhelm reveal the places where you feel afraid of change. What feels too precious to lose? If you think of the overwhelm as a rising tide of energy, like water, what parts of your life feel vulnerable to the oceanic surge that’s trying to push its way toward you? Where do the levees of your life need shoring up?

4) Finally, greet the overwhelm as the teacher that it is. Welcome it, love it, the way you would honor an old friend who has come to help you expand your idea of yourself… to help you grow strong enough to let your life change.

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  • Nicola

    Amy, this speaks to me so much! Overwhelm has been where I’ve found myself lately – I’m at the point now where I’m strengthening the container. So helpful to know there is a lesson and that gives me a different perspective. Thank you!

  • Jan

    “This teacher is about learning to welcome the full flow of what you’ve called into your life.” Amy, thank you, thank you, for zeroing in on the truth that follows the words, “I’m ready! Bring it on!”
    I’m breathing deeply again. Beautiful.

  • Donna

    Boy, does my adversary, Overwhelm, visit me often! My ‘cure’ is to clean out a drawer. Much more manageable than a closet which creates more disorder and becomes overwhelming in its own right. Not saying it always works, but it calms me down so I can be open to really seeing the things causing me distress. Your suggestions lit a bulb. I am not sure I have ever really just sat with my adversary and listened to what she had to say. Perhaps my overwhelmness is not just about procrastination. Hmmm…good food for thought. Thanks for the post!

    • Amy

      I like the one drawer at a time approach. It nails you into the present moment – which is the cure, ultimately, and the gift of overwhelm. Thanks for your comment.

  • mrsmediocrity

    Love this, Amy. Lately has been an extended period of overwhelm, work-wise, and you are so right, it is so much better to embrace it that fight it, love it than hate it.

    • Amy

      I’ve sensed your overwhelm, Mrs. M.It’s helped me enormously to do as you suggest, to pull all of it – that which I label as bad and that which I label as scary and stupid – into the great soup of life along with the so called ‘good’ stuff. Remarkably, ironically, that bad stuff has turned out to be the good stuff. Funny how that happens!

  • Jill

    I am going bookmark this blog post! I wish I had seen it yesterday – because I was being “taught” in a big way! It’s so easy, when overwhelm comes, to let those waves of fear wash over us and take us away. It’s only in “stopping”. the sitting down, breathing, and calming down that we can really feel what’s real land take the first steps in working through it to the other side. So easy to say in retrospect! You should have seen me yesterday! It all takes practice and whatever we do – don’t give up on ourselves. Thanks for a great post.

  • Laura Jayne

    Thank you dear Amy! This is exactly what I needed to read at this moment.
    Now I will re-read it. =)

  • Fiona Leonard

    yep yep yep, needed this. Thank you!

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