When It’s All Just Too Much

 In America

Let’s face it. There are times in life when it all just feels too much. No matter how much we’re trying to keep our emotions in check, they just won’t stay put. Anger, disappointment, frustration, impatience overwhelm us. The people in our lives are driving us crazy, a persistent problem just won’t get solved, a prized goal continues to elude us. Sometimes you’ve just got to scream into a pillow, go for a ten mile run or sit down and have a good cry. 

Life is just like this sometimes, and we get can get through these periods more gracefully by being as gentle with ourselves as possible. What will make it worse is if we resist what is happening. When we resist emotion, it persists. You might succeed in burying it for a while by distracting yourself or trying to ignore it, but eventually it will grow even more intense until you stop and acknowledge it. And the sooner you allow yourself to feel it, the quicker you will get through it.
I think we resist feeling negative emotion during difficult times because our brain wrongly tells us that if we allow ourselves to feel difficult feelings they will never stop and we’ll drown in a sea of overwhelm. Instead our brain advise us to soldier on with a stiff upper lip. It tells us that strong people don’t feel “bad”. Conversely, our thoughts may become very self-critical, declaring how we weak are, that “this” shouldn’t be so hard, how someone else would handle “it” better. These thoughts can drive us into depression if left unquestioned.
Not only are these thoughts completely untrue, they require our conscious intervention to stop them because they have a life of their own. They are like a small child running with scissors—they don’t recognize the danger they’re creating and their parent must intervene to prevent an accident. Becoming aware of these destructive thoughts engages our “wise” mind and gives us the power to change them to ones that help us instead of hurting us.
When life presents us with difficulties, we can choose to view them as growth opportunities. Where do we need to become more patient, resilient, trusting, calm? Instead of pushing ahead according to the dictates of our driven mind, we can consciously slow down and honor the fact that inner work is just as important as our outer work. Emotional intelligence is critical to a life well-lived, because it determines how effectively we deal with life’s ups and downs.There are no shortcuts to this process…we have to feel and deal!
So, when life is “too much,” allow yourself time and space to attend to your thoughts and feelings. Write them down if possible. Be patient with yourself. Have an extra box of Kleenex handy. Nothing has gone wrong here, and this too shall pass (one of my favorite calming thoughts). You are in the process of growing as a person and one day you’ll look back in amazement at how far you’ve come. Maybe when life is too much it’s actually just enough.


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