Overwhelmed? 6 Steps for Survival

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Friends, it was another tough week, and things came to a head on Tuesday morning.   Monday I was having problems with my phone so I was on Apple Chat (highly recommend) until after 10pm.  I had to backup and restore my entire phone to get it working again.  Since it was going to take a while for the backup to take place, I let it go overnight.  Tuesday morning I get up and SUCCESS.  The backup was done and I start the restore.  It says it will take about 8 minutes.  I figure that is enough time for me to get my tincture strained.

A tincture is blend of dried herbs, in my case lemongrass, and high proof alcohol.  After it sits for about 4-6 weeks, you strain the herbs out and the result is a “medicine” that is concentrated with the herb.  Straining is easy, as you just dump the whole jar into a container holding muslin cloth and squeeze the herbs to get all the liquid out.  I did that with no issue.  I stared at the clump of lemongrass in the muslin and thought I should throw it out.  But what did I do?  I dumped the ENTIRE clump into my garbage disposal.  The disposal clogged up, spraying water and bits of lemongrass EVERYWHERE.  I spent the next hour scooping out as much lemongrass as I could, then rerunning the disposal only to get more water and lemongrass sprayed all over the kitchen.  I pretty much at that point had a meltdown in the middle of my kitchen.  I was overwhelmed, felt about as wrung out as my lemongrass, and I could not take any more of what life was handing me.

Why I am I telling my tale of woe?  For a couple of reasons.  First, if you are a regular reader you know I write about happiness and resilience and optimism, and I just want you to know that every day is not rainbows and unicorns for me.  While I whole-heartedly believe in all those concepts there comes a time when the system goes into total FAIL.  Tuesday was that for me.  Second, you slowly come around, things get fixed, and life goes on.  Here are six things I believe can help reset your system once it hits FAIL mode:

  1. I stood in my kitchen wet and dripping lemongrass bits and balled my eyes out.  I needed a catharsis and it started the recovery process.  I didn’t hold any emotions back, I let my body heave and the tears fall.  I started feeling a little better.
  2. Work out. Despite looking like a wreck, I dried off my workout clothes and headed to the gym.  I was an hour late, but I figured lifting some weights and sweating through some cardio would be a good diversion from the morning.  I was feeling a little better.
  3. Talk about it. Another reason I went to the gym is that I knew my trainer would instantly see something was wrong.  I told him my morning sucked, and he asked if I wanted to talk about it.  I gave him the short version, and had to pretend to bend at the waist to stretch my hamstrings so he wouldn’t see the tears in my eyes.  He gave me space and a barbell with weight to do deadlifts.  When I was hauling that weight around he threw down a pair of boxing gloves “in case I needed them”.  I let out a little laugh.  I could have chosen to shake my head and not talk to him about what happened, but it felt so freeing to tell someone else, and have them take care of me for a little bit.  Talk it out.  I was feeling a little better.
  4. Ask for help. I admitted defeat to the disposal and called the plumber.  That was after I googled the manual and tried to fix it myself for an hour.  I realized I had to pony up the cash for someone to do it for me.  If you are struggling with an issue, ask for help from your friends, family, a priest, a personal trainer, a plumber—whoever can get you through the situation and give you the aid you need.  In my experience if you ask, “Can you help me?” the answer is almost always “Yes”.  I was feeling a little better.
  5. Forgive yourself. Every time I told the story about the lemongrass I said how stupid I was for not getting rid of it in a different manner.  I had no idea what I was thinking when I made the decision to dump it in the sink, but one mistake does not make me stupid.  It was just that–a mistake.  A single instance in lack of judgment and thinking things through.  We are human and fallible.  I forgave myself and felt a little better.
  6. Let it go. I cried, I sweated it out, I talked about it, I asked for help, and then I forgave myself.  The last step is to let it go.  There is no benefit for me to carry it around, calling myself stupid, or blaming myself for having to pay for a mistake.  Writing about it here is the last time I will think about it.  I now let it go.  I feel a little better.

After going through these steps feeling a “little better” I was feeling a LOT better!  I understand that phone issues and a clogged drain are not earth shattering events, and that people are going through much more trying situations.  What we all have in common is that we will reach overwhelm at some point, and our systems will fail.  My hope is that the steps above help you be more prepared for that point, and provide some comfort that the system can be reset and you can feel better.  It is sort of like going through the life vest drill when getting on a boat—you hope the boat doesn’t spring a leak, but if it does you are prepared with the knowledge to survive.

These situations are our teachers – we need to survive them, reflect on them, and get the wisdom from it.  My six steps were the wisdom for me.  And maybe not to put wads of food matter into the disposal.


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