Feeling Emotionally Overwhelmed?

Catherine Pratt

fear can be like a strangling vine

Feeling emotionally overwhelmed can be a terribly stressful experience but by becoming aware of where that emotion is really coming from, you can stop it in its tracks.

Do you find that everything seems to happen all at once? For example, you feel completely stressed out and overwhelmed by your life or even that all your money seems to be just flying out the window right now? And, it always seems to happen all at once. Why is that?

Well, the next time it happens, try to remember the strangling vine theory that I’m just about to tell you and see if that’s what’s happening in your situation. If it is, then you’ll be able to turn everything around within just a few moments.

First, have you ever seen those vines that seem to grow faster than anything else and also seem to choke out all the other plants? Sometimes, they can smother entire trees. The vine just completely consumes the entire area. That’s the vine I want you to visualize.

Now, think about the last time you felt completely emotionally overwhelmed by life. Now ask yourself:
- When did the overwhelmed feeling start?
- Did it all start with one event?

What were your thoughts really consumed with when you were completely stressed out?
Perhaps, you felt overworked, scared, and stressed with a project you were required to finish at work. Then, when you went home, you suddenly felt pressured by your kids or your husband to have something completed there. There just seemed so much to do. But, if you think back, it started with the project at work.

It's important to realize where the initial feeling of being emotionally overwhelmed started. That's what your brain is fixated on. Until that's resolved, it will judge all other events in your life with the same feeling of overwhelm.

I’ll give you an example. After a recent trip, I came back to find an overwhelming number of emails that I now needed to answer. I felt like I was going to be crushed by all these emails. How was I ever going to answer them all? I procrastinated with dealing with them and they continued to pile up even higher. But, now I was also feeling overwhelmed not only by the emails but also everything else that I felt I needed to do. It just seemed like there was so much to do and not enough time to do any of it. But when I stopped and thought about what was causing the greatest overwhelm, I realized it was the emails. So, then if I thought about the other projects without the worry of the emails, I realized that they weren’t really as bad as I thought. It was just because I was overwhelmed with one thing (the emails) that everything else suddenly felt so incredibly overwhelming. Just like the vines, the one thought I had with the emails was strangling how I viewed all my other tasks as well.

The vine loves fear thoughts

fear thoughts are like strangling vines

This strangling vine concept can happen instantly with fear thoughts too. You read about an act of violence in the newspaper and you suddenly feel unsafe in your home. One of my friends recently had her house egged by drunk teenagers. I don’t think it was intentional against her or her family. She just happens to live in a convenient location (around the corner from a liquor store) and they were drunk and thought it’d be funny. To her, she felt almost violated by their act. It made her feel unsafe in her own home and that she should be on guard against any other potential attacks. She'd never been afraid of being in her house alone before but suddenly she now was. She also discovered she was starting to feel fearful about everything whether it was walking to the subway or even driving her car to the grocery store. She felt like she had to be on guard against everything. The world was suddenly a very fearful place for her.

When she thought about when her fear started, she remembered the egging incident. This one fear thought was taking over and she felt fearful about everything. When she took the time to consider where the fear had come from, she was able to rip the vine out. The world was not this new fearful place. It was the same as it always had been, there had just been one event that had caused all her thoughts to suddenly look for being attacked. She had let the fear vine consume her entire life but once she realized where it was really coming from, she could also stop it.

Whenever she felt suddenly consumed by fear, she could take a step back and ask herself why she was really feeling afraid. If she could trace it back to the original egging incident, she was able to let it go. In some situations, your fear is truly valuable in order to keep you safe, but in this situation, her mind was feeling constantly fearful due to one past event. By stepping back from the fear allowed her to see what was really happening from a different perspective.

Definitely happens where money is involved
Another common situation where you'll find the vine suddenly appear is when you have a sudden unexpected expense happen. Maybe your car needs repairs or you need to fix something in your home like a hot water heater. Your brain suddenly fixates on the fear of how are you going to pay for this expense. You'll now suddenly notice everything else that you need to pay for, even if those are expected payments. You'll suddenly think that groceries are too expensive, buying your morning coffee is now too expensive and you'll feel like everyone is just wanting money from you. The fear of the first expense is clouding all your other experiences. The strangling vine has taken over your mind.

Why cutting the strangling vine at its source works
The whole key behind this strategy is for you to know the "why" behind your reaction. You're not just reacting to your feelings without thinking. Instead, you're taking the time to understand what your emotions are trying to tell you. Once you acknowledge them, it becomes so much easier to stop the escalation of fear and usually you find you can then just let them go.

It’s a quick step to stop whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed and simply ask yourself where the feelings are really coming from. Are they stemming from one incident? If they are, then it’s easier to detach from your feelings of overwhelm. You know what's causing it. The simple act of being aware of why you're feeling stressed can be enough to free yourself from being completely emotionally overwhelmed by everything else in your life. You've managed to stop your imagination from running wild and imagining the worst of everything.

You regain control over your thoughts and can now go back to moving forwards with your life rather than getting caught up in the negative emotions like fear. You'll no longer feel emotionally overwhelmed because you've gained a new understanding of yourself. You're once again the master of your thoughts and not the other way around.

Additional Resources for Feeling Overwhelmed

Don't let a difficult situation, problem or person cause you anxiety. Whenever you’re feeling stressed, simply remember the “3 Questions That Will Change Your Life”.

70 pages. Format: pdf file, ebook version only.

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