I listened to a talk this past week that really rubbed me the wrong way. Boiled down, the message was that feeling overwhelmed is a normal and expected part of life. Furthermore, it was suggested that the only real place that true change and growth takes place is during times of feeling overwhelmed. Essentially, the place that God meets us for spiritual transformation only happens when we are overwhelmed in life.
By the end of the speech, I was feeling pretty guilty for wanting to eliminate ‘overwhelming’ from my vocab. I started to think that my pursuit of that indescribable, heart-pumpin’ joy might be a bit too frivolous.
I’d be bold enough to make the claim that most of us feel overwhelmed from time to time, maybe even several times a week or day. Yet, I can’t shake the belief that life doesn’t need to be this way, and my foot goes down against the idea of encouraging this feeling!
Life is full of pain and struggle. An immediate, habitual response is to feel overwhelmed when life throws you a curve ball in the form of a break-up, piling bills or even that extra task at work that sends you over the edge. But, let me ask you a question?
If you could choose to feel overwhelmed, would you?
My heart hears a big, resounding “NO!” loud and clear because I don’t believe any of us—at our healthiest selves—would sign up for the feelings that accompany Mr. Overwhelm.
Let’s dig a bit deeper?
Have you come to expect Mr. Overwhelm to show up in those yucky life situations?
Have you lost sight of the blissful JOY that is waiting to take up residence in your soul?
If you’re nodding your head then take heart, beautiful one, because THAT JOY already dwells within you.
It’s easy to disconnect from this bountiful reservoir when those negative feelings are running the show. So, I’m here to share my top tips to eliminate feeling overwhelmed and increase your joy.
3 TIPS TO INCREASE YOUR JOY
1. Bring yourself back to the present moment.
When you are stuck in your head, your thoughts run rampant. Emotions rise, and it is difficult to cease the internal chatter. All this emotionally charged energy and white noise lend themselves brilliantly to feeling overwhelmed. Bring yourself back into your body by focusing your attention on your breath. Release any tension in your shoulders and continue to breathe slowly and deeply. Awaken yourself to the present moment–your NOW.
Stop fretting about the past—the guilt, pain, loss, perceived mistakes—and reel yourself back from the future trippin’. We tend to obsess about and project into the future in order to ‘save ourselves’ from an undesirable life situation. Living in the past and/or future exasperate feeling overwhelmed. Coming back to the present moment opens the door to freedom.
2. Accept your NOW for what it is.
When you fight tooth and nail against your present moment situation, feelings of tension, discontent and unhappiness arise. But, you have the power of choice. If you can’t change or remove yourself from an unwanted situation, the power lies in ACCEPTANCE.
Eckhart Tolle sums it up best in his book, The Power Of Now:
“As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love – even the most simple action.”
So, accept each moment as if you chose it for yourself. This is powerful stuff!
3. Stop complaining.
Complaining is a red flag that you aren’t accepting your present moment for what it is. It breeds negativity that can be felt by those around you. I’m sure you can name those one or two people who are consistently negative. And I’m sure you don’t volunteer to hang around them all day! Why not? Because it is exhausting and leaves you feeling negative.
When you are tempted to grumble about a specific person, event or life situation, bring yourself back to the present moment where all unhappiness dissolves.
Replace complaints with gratitude. When you want to complain, say something you are thankful for instead. It might feel awkward and contrived at first, but a grateful spirit is one of lightness and joy.
Become that joy.
To finish us off, let me share 5 things I am grateful for in my present moment.
- My darling hubby.
- The bananas and almond butter combo. Just yum!
- New friendship possibilities.
- Fresh water.
- YOU! (to cliché?) Naw. . .