My sister is 7 years younger than me, so I have vivid memories of her youngest days, which thrills her, I’m sure. I still remember whenever her Kindergarten class would get too rambunctious, the teacher would announce, “O.O.C.!” because they were out of control. This meant that they were to stop and think about what they were doing, quit running like wild things, and change their mindset.
Do you ever feel like you’re going out of control in all the chaos that can come with life? Are you all too familiar with that panicky feeling where it feels like all hope might really be lost this time? Budgeting woes, accidents, unexpected expenses, emergencies, a chaotic house, overwhelming demands, bills, paperwork… The list goes on, from everyday small stuff to big challenges when you least expect them. But I got you. Help to stop running like a wild thing and live with an UNDERwhelmed mindset begins here.
Choose to be UNDERwhelmed
The solution to conquering this out-of-control reaction is simple, and it begins with actually making the choice to live with an UNDERwhelmed mindset. It will take time, not gonna lie. You have to implement it each time that panicky, overwhelmed feeling hits.
Whether it be a loss of a job or source of income, a car wreck that totals your vehicle and leaves you hurt and at a stalemate with insurance companies, a separate unavoidable auto repair to your second vehicle, an unexpected illness… As I’m sure you’ve guessed by the detailed description, yes, all of these have truly happened to my husband and me in the past 6 months.
But! There is a way to cope without going nuttier than a fruit cake. These next 5 steps are how I deal with everything from a car wreck to doing the dishes.
Understand the ‘right now’
Try not to immediately give in to the feeling of fear or overload. I know, it is so hard when life takes an unexpected or unpleasant turn (or even when you reach your max on day-to-day stresses). But just stop and tell yourself: 1 minute. Take 1 minute to bring your full attention into the moment you’re in right now. Not what might happen in an hour or a week or a year. Breathe. And focus just on what you can do about it right now. Which might actually be nothing, and sometimes just realizing that can help.
New task, new focus
Get your mind off the issue at hand for a while by focusing on something different. Take a couple hours and watch a movie if that’s what you need. Go for a walk, escape into a book, do a workout, listen to music, spend some time on your favorite hobby. The point is to purposefully place your attention on something else. Give your mind and body a break from the crazy that’s trying to bust loose on you. When you come back later, chances are you’ll have a new perspective. You might even realize something new or helpful about the situation that you overlooked during the overwhelm.
Decide your thoughts
Think about what you’re thinking about. Sounds kind of simple, but when was the last time you took control and reined in your thoughts? Those bad boys don’t have to run like a green broke horse all the time. Thoughts can pop up without permission, again and again, to the point of causing us real worry. But we don’t have to let them instill that panicky, out-of-control feeling. Negativity or fear of the worst will come knocking, but we don’t have to invite them in.
When I realized this? Oh sweet mercy. You mean I can actually tell this brain of mine what to think about? I hadn’t thought of that before! And it’s such an amazing thought to have, that we can choose what to spend our mental energy on, and just because a thought occurs to us doesn’t mean we have to dwell on it. Choose not to allow mental space for bad thoughts that come your way, and intentionally think good thoughts!
Each step is a first step
Something else that’s really helpful is to see the overwhelm that’s trying to push in on you as something that is taking place outside of you. Don’t internalize it and let it stress you out. When we get overloaded by trying to see 8,231 steps ahead of ourselves, we only create more stress. Don’t allow yourself to start down the path of “and then there’s that, and oh my gosh I didn’t even think about that! And then what if–” That used to be my favorite path of all time. But that path stinks!
Imagine your best friend is the one experiencing your particular moment of panic. What would you tell her to do first? In other words, treat yourself like your own best friend. Be helpful to yourself! Limit your vision to what your very first response should be. Then do that. Then when you identify the next step to take, see it as the first step all over again. What needs to be done about that one thing? Do that. Then do it again. This is productivity and accomplishment without even trying. So much can be resolved by doing this and before you know it, your problem will seem A LOT smaller. There are so many things I would never get done without this method.
Recognize the positive
One thing that works for me is looking at challenging situations with a grateful mindset. Through it all, stopping toxic thoughts and choosing to have a positive perspective–even if the only positive I can find is super small–helps me to focus on my blessings. I look back to other times when I didn’t know if I would make it through, but I did, and I can choose to take heart knowing that God is at work in and through everything I have faced, and He is here in this moment, too.
Making It Personal
I want to share something that my husband and I have been dealing with lately and how we have been able to conquer the out-of-control by living with an UNDERwhelmed mindset. My husband was in a car wreck several months ago. It was not life-threatening and for that I am sooo thankful. But he was hurt. And it was scary. He still suffers from that and is receiving long-term treatment.
And with the super tight budget we are on, worry definitely started to creep up. His car was totaled. That left us with one dependable vehicle between the two of us. I had just quit my job only a month earlier and I felt like maybe I had made a seriously huge mistake. There was no way we would be able to get another car with our current income. I started panicking on top of already being shaken up from his injury and the gigantic scare that is a car wreck. Medical bills began mounting… Obviously there was plenty of potential for panic to be had.
I could have easily been swallowed up by the thought of bills and insurance paperwork, the possibility of hiring a lawyer, losing our car, wondering if my husband would have long-term physical issues… But I had to decide, okay, this is how it is. No what-if’s are going to help me here. I took time to breathe and focus on the moment. The insurance company had been notified and doctors appointments set up. That was all we could do in the moment so we chose not to worry.
We watched one of the shows we enjoy and gave ourselves an emotional break, and we decided not to let that unending string of worries take over our thoughts. And oh, the blessings in this circumstance. I made that my focus. My husband is alive and walking and talking! We have another vehicle so we’re not completely without transportation. It’s still a time of adjustment even now, but we are deciding to focus on each step as it comes.
So when you feel that hopelessness creeping up on your soul, remember, you can conquer that bad boy! Choose in that very moment to be UNDERwhelmed.
- Understand the right now
- New task, new focus
- Decide your thoughts
- Each step is a first step, and
- Recognize the positive.
It may seem challenging at first, but the more you do it, the more you’re building this wonderful habit. I’m not one who adapts to change too easily, so this is something I’m continuing to improve upon. But that’s just it. I’m so much better at stopping that helpless feeling in its tracks before it can start running like a wild thing. And that makes a huge difference!
How has this post inspired you to live with an UNDERwhelmed mindset?
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