Last week we began our discussion of the sources of overwhelm, and it hit a raw nerve based on the large response we had from readers. Although there are more than fifty sources of overwhelm, here are four more.
Busyness feeds feelings of overwhelm. Busyness is doing stuff for the sake of doing stuff – being constantly in motion. It may be productive, but the main focus is to be busy. The problem is that often the action is not thought out – it is not focused on achieving a goal or completing a daily priority. Busyness can also be an excuse for not getting your serious work done. “Oh, I’m so busy, I just didn’t get to it.” It is very easy to fall into the busyness trap, but ultimately not productive, leaving the frustration of overwhelm and self loathing in its wake.
Busyness can be the enabler of procrastination. Let’s face it, we all procrastinate sometimes. Whether it’s putting off an unpleasant or difficult task, or choosing to blow off the “to do” list to have fun, it’s still procrastination. The trouble with putting off until tomorrow that which should have been done yesterday, is that even though the task is out of sight, it is not out of mind. The unfinished project is still preying on your subconscious. It is a loose end that draws psychic energy away from what you are doing. Even if you choose a fun activity, you will not have as much fun as you might because your subconscious knows you put off the inevitable.
Next time you want to take a mental health day, and we all need them from time to time, prioritize your tasks and then choose to have fun. Then when the fun is over, do the next thing on your priority list.
One of the most insidious behaviors that feeds feelings of overwhelm is perfectionism. Most people want to do a good job. However, there is a line between doing your best work, and striving for perfection that cannot be defined nor achieved.
What exactly is perfect anyway? And who sets the standard? Most of the time “perfect” is determined by others – parents, teachers, friends, and usually at an early age. When you reach adulthood, however, you are the one who gets to decide what your standards are. Too often we are so mired in the past and from years of conditioning, that we carry the standards others set for us by others throughout life.
It is important to set realistic standards of performance for yourself. If you attach ridiculous standards to your end product, you will never complete a task to your satisfaction. Your self-esteem will suffer a barrage of hits every time you fail to achieve impossible levels of excellence, which you allow to rule your life. So get over it already! Realize that sometimes good enough is good enough, and move on.
Finally, it is important to know that this is your life – the only one you have for now. Who do you want in charge of your present and future? Of your happiness, of your sanity? You cannot change the past or rewrite your history. You can, however, write your story going forward. Be the star of your life. Do not let the expectations or wishes of others send you screaming into the various traps that will only increase your feelings of overwhelm and frustration.
You can choose how you want to live your life.
Please share your thoughts below, and pass this post on to others who may be suffering from overwhelm.