Embrace All Feelings… yes, even overwhelmed



Some feelings are easier to embrace than others.

Today I am feeling overwhelmed. It seems like I’m hitting stumbling blocks or dead ends no matter what I do, that I’m bouncing from one thing to the next as I bump up against walls so nothing gets actually finished, and that my to do list keeps getting longer rather than shorter as the day goes on.

My head is swimming, I feel a lump in my throat, my brain feels fuzzy.

Not exactly a state I care to perpetuate. So, I am aware of my initial response is, “Embrace overwhelmed? You have got to be kidding!?! I just want it gone!”

But then I took a deep breath and sat with the next part – it is perfect for where I am on my journey and listen to what it has to teach me.

Breathing helps. Listening helps. As I slow down to breath and listen, I feel my whole system settle and relax some. Here is what is coming in as I listen.

When I first considered the idea of embracing a feeling, I had made an underlying assumption that to embrace was equivalent to wanting to persist. But I now see there is a big difference. Embrace is more like not resisting than it is trying to hold on to something; or fully allowing in and being present with rather than pushing away or ignoring/denying. Seemingly ironically, the more we openly, fully embrace difficult emotions, the quicker we move past them because when we embrace them, we listen to them, and when we listen to them, we learn the lessons that they are there to teach us.

As I listen more, I am realizing that every single thing I have tried to take on today has included an element of problem solving or figuring out something new. It was when I took a break from these things to do a few mundane things more in my comfort zone that I  began to settle a bit. Stepping back it all makes sense. I wanted to get the new things done because they are important to moving forward. But new and figuring things out also means greater chance for things to go wrong along the way and that uncertainty by default contains a certain amount of anxiety. So, ‘stress hormones’ will naturally be elevated. Combine too many of these together and the result is overwhelmed.

It all makes perfect sense, but even so, I can hear a little voice in the back of my head that still insists that I just have to plow ahead and deal with it and that I am somehow not good enough because all these new things really ‘need’ to be done now. They are all important and I can’t simply put them on hold to ration out the stress levels. And there is the voice that says not all new things are problematic and you don’t know until you try, so of course it made sense to take on all these things.

What I am becoming more present to is how it’s fine to make the plans to do new things, but overwhelmed is valiantly trying to tell me when it is time to regroup. Overwhelmed is saying take a break, go meditate, go for a walk, tackle a known quantity, and push ahead and you are going to snap at someone or make a big mistake that you will regret.

Overwhelmed, I embrace you. I awaken to your lessons. I thank you for your teaching.

I am going to go walk the dogs now.