April 22, 2024

Opinion: Feeling overwhelmed

By Bryan Golden

Although life has its ups and downs, at times of prolonged or intense down periods there is the potential of feeling overwhelmed. When this happens, it can create a cascading effect. Your attitude turns negative, you feel distressed, your patience is worn thin, you become frustrated, your energy level drops, and you become discouraged.

When you get into this mode, you feel powerless to extricate yourself. It seems that whatever you try is ineffectual. Nothing you do makes any difference. Although you desperately need a break, problems keep piling up. You feel like a victim with no ability to make any positive changes. You are perplexed as to why these things are happening to you. Being a good person, you don’t deserve what is happening and it’s just not fair.

Why do bad things happen? Why are we faced with unfortunate situations? People have pondered these questions since the beginning of time without discovering any meaningful answers. We have little or no control over some of the circumstances that we face.

There are many circumstances that are potentially overwhelming. They include natural disasters, economic misfortune, crime, loss of a loved one, failed or troubled relationships, family problems, and physical ailments.

Whereas you can’t control what happens to you, you do have control over how you respond. Getting through an overwhelming period is challenging but it is doable. The bottom line is that you have no choice but to persevere. It will be a struggle, but giving up will only exacerbate your predicament.

The way to make it through tough times is one day at a time. When even that seems overwhelming, take it one hour at a time. Give yourself a mental reprieve by changing your focus to what is OK in your life. You want to develop an attitude of gratitude. When you go through a list of what you have to be grateful for it helps break the negative thought cycle.

The trap is that a negative attitude and bitterness repels what you want while attracting what you don’t want. When you are overwhelmed, it is very hard to alter your attitude. You don’t see any light and everything appears tainted. You become caught in a downward spiral.

Developing your attitude of gratitude will break the negative cycle. At first, you may not think there is anything to be grateful for. However, you will find things. No positive aspect is too small or insignificant. The more you think about what is good in your life, the more of a positive impact it will have.

Next, give yourself credit for any successes you have had, regardless of how small or insignificant you consider them. Even the things you tried that didn’t work as planned are accomplishments. It indicates you are being proactive. Unfortunately, many people take a passive role, just waiting for circumstances to improve.

Since you never know how close you are to discovering solutions that work, you must persist. Take inspiration from those people throughout history who have overcome situations far more extreme that what you are facing. If they can do it, so can you.

Your thoughts control your feelings. Even in dire circumstances, your thoughts are under your command. Your mind works nonstop to bring your thoughts to reality. When you believe that you will make it through, this is what your mind will work toward. Conversely, if you don’t feel there is any way out, you mind will actually work to keep you where you are.

When you are overwhelmed, you can and will overcome the challenges facing you. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Take small steps, develop a strong attitude of gratitude, take one day at a time, and don’t give up. Others have succeeded and so will you.

Contact Bryan Golden at Bryan@columnist.com