How to Overcome Your Overwhelm

It’s not your fault, but it is your responsibility.

Jordin James
Dec 7, 2019 · 6 min read

‘This is for all the people who come to the fork in the road when they aren’t sure if they can make it. You can choose to keep trying or you can choose to fade quietly into the night.

I choose to keep trying. It’s the most painful thing I’ve ever done, but I choose to keep trying. Not many people will get this. Not many have come to this crossroads.

But for those who have — they know. They know the weight of my decision. I write for them.’ — Last night’s journal entry

Let me tell you how my mornings have gone lately.

They always start out alright, maybe even good — if only for a few minutes. I wake up rested and looking forward to being productive. I check my email, social media, and texts and then, well…and then I just lay there.

I don’t think anything in particular. All I really think is, “Oh god I’m just staring at the ceiling again. I really should get up.” But my body feels glued to the bed.

I feel myself retreating ever inwards, my spirit desperate attempt to escape the reality of how quickly my life has changed and the overwhelm that comes when I want to be successful but also I’m going through an existential crisis.

Deeper and deeper into myself I go, all the while my brain checks out more and more. I wonder if I’ll ever get out of bed.

I don’t know what helps me eventually get up. Food, probably. That and my full bladder. But even still, getting out of bed sucks every ounce of energy from me that all my inspiration to be productive is nowhere to be found.

Can you relate? Here’s what I’m doing about it.

The Onset of Overwhelm

It’s easy to collapse under the weight of your overwhelm. It’s easy to blame other people, play the victim, or make excuses for why things happened the way they did to get you to where you are now.

It’s easy to stay in bed and stare at the ceiling, retreating in on yourself in an attempt to escape the overwhelm.

We all choose the easy way initially. How could we not? This is the nature of overwhelm — it overwhelms us to make any sense of what just happened or where we should go next — all we know is that it really, really sucks and there is no magic wand we can wave to make it all go away.

Eventually, though, we spend too many mornings staring at the ceiling. We spend too many minutes sitting idly in our cars before we bring ourselves to actually go into work. We spend too much time floundering in our overwhelm that we become heavier and heavier — no closer to shore and no further away from drowning.

We will stay in this floundering state as long as we don’t take responsibility for our overwhelm.

Taking responsibility does not always mean admitting fault for the overwhelm. It very likely isn’t your fault.

Trust me — after being cheated on and losing everything in my life that brought me stability in one fell swoop — I am not blaming myself for my overwhelm. It isn’t my fault. But it is my responsibility to overcome.

The Magic of Taking Responsibility for Your Overwhelm

There is something magic that happens when you realize that you’re so overwhelmed by the weight of your life that you’re genuinely not sure if you are going to make it through.

The magic is this: everything becomes simple. Everything prior to this moment becomes a sunk cost. It doesn’t matter what got you here, it just matters that you are here and what you’re going to do about it moving forward.

There is no middle-ground in overwhelm; no grey area or nuance to retreat into. You’ve only got two paths to travel in the midst of your overwhelm. You either a) make decisions that help you survive or b) make decisions that help you die.

Perhaps I mean “die” in the literal sense, but more likely I mean “die” in the wasting-away-into-a-shell-of-yourself sense. I’m undecided on which version of death is worse.

The point is: the only way to overcome your overwhelm is to take responsibility for overcoming it. It is one of the most painful things you can ever do to pull your heavy body out of bed and go put in the hard work to show up for yourself — believe me, I know — but my dear reader, you must, else you will flounder for far longer than necessary.

You must take full responsibility for getting yourself through this. I promise, on the other side of this overwhelm is a better version of yourself, having embodied the person you are meant to become.

What Taking Responsibility for Your Overwhelm Actually Looks Like

First thing’s first: get real clear about your needs in two key areas: practically and spiritually/psychologically. Ask yourself questions like…

What can I do to get the mental heal support I need to get through this overwhelm? Go to a therapist? Hiring a life coach? Being more open with your friends and family about what you’re going through? Volunteering for a cause you care about to help put everything in perspective?

What books or resources do I need to turn to (spiritually, psychologically, or practically) that would lead me more toward life instead of death? Get your hands on them. Reading books that expanded my mindset has literally saved my life.

How much money do you need to make to cover your basic needs like food, water, and shelter? Do the math and come up with a concrete number.

What habits do you need to create to fully show up for yourself? Is it applying for jobs every day? Is it setting aside a number of hours to work on your side hustle every week?

Do you work better in the morning or the evening? Create a schedule or a routine — as rigid or as loose as is helpful — to keep you focused and in-the-moment with your work.

Do you need a support group or accountability buddy to ensure you keep showing up for yourself? Reach out to someone you trust or utilize an accountability app.

Yes, these questions are hard. And yes, answering these questions is going to require some serious work to implement. But I swear to you, you have it in you to get yourself through this.

You are smarter than you think. You are doing better than you think. You are worthy of showing up for yourself every day.

This is an extremely overwhelming time, I get it — me too. I’m slogging through these questions on a daily basis right along with you.

You’re not alone. So many of us here on Earth are so overwhelmed with the weight of our lives right now. We’re all imperfectly bumbling our way through just like you are.

The difference between those of us that will make it through and those of us that will fade away into the night is those of us that make it through are brave enough to take full responsibility for getting ourselves through it every day for as long as it takes.

You owe it to yourself to be brave.

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Mind Cafe

Relaxed, inspiring essays about happiness.

Jordin James

Written by

Inner peace is possible. Find out how in my free 5-day email course: Find me on Twitter: @justjordinjames

Mind Cafe

Relaxed, inspiring essays about happiness.

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