Episode 22: Overcoming overwhelm
You are listening to the Life Reconstructed podcast with me, Teresa Amaral Beshwate, grief expert, best-selling author and widow. I’m so glad you’re here because in this and every episode, I shine a light on the widowed way forward.
Hello and welcome to episode 22. In this episode, we take a close look at overwhelm, why we feel it, and what to do about it, so we can start taking action.
As if the loss of our person wasn’t enough, widowed people instantly have double the responsibility, twice the tasks, all of the decisions, and often half the income. So it isn’t surprising that one of the many feelings we experience in life after loss is overwhelm.
It’s perfectly okay to feel any emotion, including overwhelm. It’s also interesting to look closely at overwhelm so we can understand it better.
Like all feelings, a sense of overwhelm comes from our thoughts—for example, “There is so much to do,” “I don’t know how to do the tasks he did,” “I don’t know how to make decisions on my own,” “I am not sure how to make it on one income,” or “I don’t have any support.”
What thoughts cause you to feel overwhelmed?
It’s ironic that when we feel overwhelmed, we end up taking no useful action in the areas that need our attention. Overwhelm is a paralyzing emotion. As a result of inaction, we stay stuck in overwhelm. The things that need to be done multiply, and then we feel even more overwhelmed. It’s a spiral.
The grief journey is an uncomfortable one (understatement of the year) and overwhelm is one of many uncomfortable emotions we will experience on this journey.
But taking action in a brand new, unwelcome, difficult chapter of life is arguably more uncomfortable.
So ultimately, overwhelm tends to become our preferred version of uncomfortable.
But the tasks pile up: the bills need to be paid, decisions need to be made, paperwork needs to be done, the sink is clogged, and clutter is everywhere. It’s clear that overwhelm is not a useful emotion. So what can we do?
Ask yourself, “why do I feel overwhelmed?”
Your answer will be your thoughts.
Write down all the thoughts that are producing your feeling of overwhelm and ask yourself if they are both true and useful.
Ask your brain to come up with other thoughts that serve you better and that produce a feeling other than overwhelm—one that will actually inspire action.
“I don’t know how to do this” can become “I’m learning to do this.” “There is so much to do” can become “I’m capable of doing a little bit each day.” Those are examples, but it is important for your brain to come up with thoughts that feel true for you.
Try on each thought and ask yourself how it makes you feel. When you find the feeling that makes you want to take action, however small, ask your brain to practice that thought.
My go-to feeling is intentional. I simply think thoughts that, for me, create a feeling of intentionality. It gets me moving forward every single time, and action begets more action.
Because we are always in control of our thoughts, we can generate any feeling we want to feel. Overcoming overwhelm allows us to take small action, which builds our confidence and belief in ourselves. Small actions taken over time create significant results: whether eliminating the clutter, getting the paperwork done, fixing the faucet, making the decision, and so much more.
Those actions are just on the other side of overwhelm. You’ve got this.
If this episode was helpful, please share it with a widowed friend. And remember that I believe in you, and I’m here for you. Take care.
If you’ve found this podcast helpful, I invite you to join Life Reconstructed, my coaching program exclusively for widowed people. It will help you step forward toward a life you will love again. Simply go to thesuddenwidowcoach.com and click work with me.