I’ve had a conversation with my buddy Helen James yesterday about overwhelm and what it is. There was quite a bit of cursing and a lot of laughing, but it left me thinking about the word and the issue of it in my life afterwards.
If you look up overwhelm in the dictionary it will be defined by words like, overpowered, submerged, overcome, upset. I started to think about when in my life before I felt like this, and how that’s linked to my current, knee jerk/cop out reaction to anything that looks or smells a tad like the o-word. This milled about in my head and my heart for the day yesterday and I had a bit of a breakthrough with it last night.
Over ten years ago, my complicated, lovely, maddening, stubborn, opinionated, talented old wordsmith of a Dad died suddenly at home getting out of bed. The loss, the first of its kind I’d experienced in my life, devastated my world more than I knew at the time. In hindsight I really fell apart. I had no energy; no joy and I was entirely distracted. I really disengaged from my family. Everything but everything was too much. I went on like that for a year or two and then began to come out of it. The house was a mess, my head was a mess, and I was just not present. The thing is, I frightened myself then with how dark and disengaged I got from my lovely life. Everything was too much. Thankfully, I took myself in hand when a friend said I seemed depressed and I began to claw my way out of the hole I’d dug for myself.
Anyway, all this to say, when I have a lot to do, I think this is what my underlying fear is. That I’ll crumble and disconnect. I’m doing the work though, and I’ve come too far to do that again – it just takes a little bit more effort to get the message through to myself. I did a good job of getting on with looking after my family and my home, but it was through a blur of disconnectedness I never want to feel again.
Then, I was overwhelmed by grief and I gave it my power. That was probably the last time I was honestly truly overwhelmed. I give a to do list way too much power by calling it overwhelm and I’ll never use the word so lightly again.
In reality, “I am overwhelmed” is me saying “I’m afraid to step into this in case I get lost” and whilst the memory makes the fear real, it’s an old reaction to a current situation which only serves to keep me in an outdated and destructive pattern I now have the tools to release.
There’s a piece by Danielle La Porte that I listened to a lot a few years ago. It speaks to our power, how it gets trapped in painful events and how we must always call it back to us. You can listen here.
“You are always in relationship with your life force. Ideally, you want access to your FULL life force. Not just half it because some of your power is on obligation-loan to the needy, or stuck in a past life, or knotted up with the person who did you wrong, or tangled up in dreading the future. Painful events create fissures that your power gets trapped in. You want to empty those pockets and get your gold back.” Danielle LaPorte
Words have the power we give them. I do believe I have been giving my power to this little o-word and now I’m calling it back. I have a to do list of things that honestly mostly, light me up and bring me joy in one way or another. Sometimes they feel out of control or balance and it’s my job to lovingly maintain them in a way that keeps them in balance, in joy and in alignment with my life force. I’m lucky to be connected to my lovely life by those things I’ve actively chosen to have on my to do lists. They come from love. 😉