It’s not often that this happens to us but the truth is that most of us experience feelings of overwhelm at one time or another and lately that’s what we’ve felt.
When it comes to feeling overwhelmed, one thing we know for sure is that it can play havoc with our marriage, as well as other relationships, and often we don’t even recognize what’s going on.
When we become overwhelmed with life–maybe we’ve over-committed, have way too much “on our plates,” or maybe a project is more complicated than what we had originally thought, something pretty universal happens.
Our thinking becomes muddled, we might get very “moody” or “touchy” and we start closing down . We may even get physically sick from the experience.
All of us have unique “safety valves” and ways of coping with overwhelm when it happens but the one thing that most of us do but do not realize that we are doing during those times is to shut others out, especially those we love.
The two of us have been experiencing overwhelm lately. Otto, among other things, has been redesigning and reorganizing our web site for personal growth http://www.PersonalGrowthPlanet.com and Susie’s been trying to get a house renovation project underway, in the middle of attending a weekend workshop, taking part in an out-of-town family celebration, helping with her ailing mother, and having a tooth extracted.
With all of this going on, we realized that we had begun to close our hearts to each other in certain ways. Nothing very dramatic, mind you–but we noticed that we weren’t experiencing our usual close connection.
When we realized what was happening, we stopped our busyness and took the time to reconnect. Last night, we just sat and looked in each other’s eyes and held hands. Even though we had a lot to talk about because we really hadn’t had much interaction for quite a few days, we just sat and reconnected.
As we sat together with the intention of reconnecting, we waited for our hearts to open to each other. Waiting for our hearts to open to each other seems like it’s a passive thing but it’s really not passive at all.
This is because reconnecting and opening our hearts requires us to make a conscious choice– and the conscious choice is–are we going to stay closed or are we going to choose to open to our beloved and the other people in our lives?
This choice, by the way, whether we realize it or not is not a one-time choice or a function of our circumstances. This decision about whether to open or close our hearts to the people in our lives is a moment-by-moment decision that we’re all making thousands of times every day.
This decision about whether to (and how wide) to open your heart to others just may be the single biggest factor that will determine how close and connected your marriage and other relationships are.
The feeling of being “overwhelmed” is one of many things in our lives that can cause us to lose track of what’s really important in our lives and cause us to feel distance and separation with the people in our lives that matter most to us.
Because we know that many of you experience overwhelm in your lives from time to time too, we wanted to give you a few ideas for helping you to regain your sense of balance, open your heart and reconnect with those you love.
These ideas have helped us and may also help you.
1. When you realize that you are overwhelmed, stop, breathe and take a moment to slow life down. Do what you need to do to calm or center yourself. That may mean taking a walk in the woods, sitting by yourself for a few minutes, Bach flower remedies, aroma therapy, meditation, exercise, listen to calming music, sing, dance–whatever helps you to feel in balance and “like yourself” again.
If you don’t have a way to center yourself, experiment with some of our examples before you feel overwhelmed. When we are overwhelmed, we often feel like we don’t have the time to do those things that will help us.
But what the two of us have discovered is that if we don’t take the time to “center” ourselves, we just tend to make things worse!
2. Back up and re-evaluate your priorities. Get clear about your goals and what you want. Susie had the grandiose idea of painting one of the rooms in their house this coming weekend but with all that has gone on in the last couple of weeks, we decided to scale down our expectations.
We decided to get very clear about our goal for remodeling that room, to take a few steps back and to begin reorganizing instead. We’ll paint it after a few other things are done to the room.
If you have a big project staring you in the face, take the pressure off, evaluate what you want and break it up into bite-sized pieces that won’t overwhelm you. You might even decide that you need to say “no” to something that will give you more space and time. Give yourself the permission to do that if it’s needed.
3. If you are caught up in being overwhelmed, turn your attention to your relationships with the people you love. You may have been ignoring them and taking them for granted.
Make a connection with your kids, your spouse, your friends, other loved ones. Spend some time just being totally present with the ones you love and not thinking about what has been overwhelming you.
Always remember that we always have other choices for new possibilities in every area of our lives.
When it comes to our relationships, please know that we always have more possibilities than we realize to open more often and wider to the love that’s available to us all the time. We just have to be conscious enough, willing enough and committed enough to do this even when life gets crazy and a bit overwhelming.