As we push on through the dip and try to live the life we were created to live, we invariably face people and situations that we have not dealt with before. This can be challenging and force us to dig deep. Hopefully with consistency and effort, we can push through and gain further territory in our lives. Sometimes, however, the situation feels overwhelming and we begin to feel we are out of control and the situation is bigger than we are.

When this feeling of being overwhelmed (like being in a washing machine -not knowing which way is up) has associated physical symptoms that may include increased heart rate, sweating, a sick feeling or heightened senses -chances are an Overwhelm Complex has been activated. These complexes make getting through the dip even more challenging. (Please read previous blogs for “dip” context).

As with rejection, overcoming an Overwhelm Complex starts with awareness. Until we can identify what is happening and know the effect of the complex, we have very little chance of pushing through! I find Hollis’s two questions invaluable in an overwhelming situation:

“What am I feeling?” “What do I want?”

Answering these simple, yet profound, questions forces us to become conscious of what is driving our emotions. This consciousness is the start of empowerment. As James Hollis says:

“The deeper it lies buried in our psychological formation of Self and Other, the more autonomy it has in our lives”

How many people live stunted lives dominated by an overwhelming complex which forces them to walk in shoes too small for them, thus never reaching their potential?

Awareness of the Overwhelm Complex and its impact on our life is an important start to the process, but that in itself fixes nothing. It’s like knowing why our car keeps breaking down. It’s important to know, but that doesn’t fix it…….

Pushing through an Overwhelm Complex is different for each person but there are some principles that can help. I have found the following very helpful:

1. Identify it and know what is happening. This is the essential first step.

2. Become aware of the patterns of your life.

The flooding feeling of being overwhelmed is unpleasant, to say the very least. As a result, most of us develop avoidant patterns to protect us from these feelings. These patterns are many and varied and depend on our personality type and circumstances. Here are some examples of what I have observed.

  • Avoidance -consciously (or unconsciously) avoiding the challenge altogether.
  • Procrastination -we can discuss this later?
  • Rationalisation -making excuses to not engage (a form of avoidance)
  • Numbing -borrowing function from people or substances to ease the discomfort (this includes all addictions)
  • Anger or imploding (another form of avoidance where we blow up or implode to avoid the situation)

3. Conscious decision to engage in the journey to deal with the Overwhelm Complex.
Choosing to engage is a necessary step to pushing through an Overwhelm Complex.

4. Use of a mantra.
Brene Brown has a beautiful mantra that I have adopted and used for several years…

“Don’t puff up,
Don’t shrink back,
Hold your sacred ground”

As we face an overwhelming situation these words can be very powerful in helping a person stay on course.

5. Lastly, a person needs to know their “why” or reason to push through. Without this, a person will generally avoid the overwhelm situation and settle in the dip.

What is your reason. What is your why?

The reason for this blog is simply to bring awareness to the challenges that will be faced in the dip. Becoming overwhelmed is common to many people. It is a difficult challenge that must be overcome if a person is to move through the dip to their True North. It is a conscious journey to push through and live the life you’re recreated to live.

Andrew Pocock