Some days are truly overwhelming — and while that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing it is an opportunity for us to serve others.
An affirming moment will quickly and easily overwhelm me in a positive, uplifting and encouraging way. However, it’s the drowning-in-life moments that tend to take top billing in most of life for the concept of being overwhelmed.
We all have different levels of what we can handle before feeling the effects of too much pressure. And we all react in our own way when overwhelmed.
It’s not a right or wrong thing but it is interesting to watch how the environment is impacted by the variety of responses.
Some process their stress with nervous energy, frantic reactions and out loud play-by-play interpretation. Others remain steady and calm on the outside while their minds are in a frenzy. And everyone else falls somewhere in between.
Many of us may describe our overwhelmed seasons as being extra busy, not recognizing we are stretched beyond the max — you know, that “burning the candle at both ends” situation.
I’m still learning how to best manage those days and weeks that seem out of control, how to be more proactive in avoiding those situations to start with and how to know exactly what others need when they are drowning in life.
One thing I have learned is that many times we sincerely want to help our overwhelmed friend, but we don’t take the time to assess what will truly be helpful.
We decide for ourselves what we think is best for our friend and do that instead. I’ve been guilty of doing this to others and I’ve had it done to me.
While the meaning behind the effort was and is always appreciated, it didn’t accomplish the goal and in some cases actually added more stress rather than lightening the load.
Learning to help others in ways that makes sense to them means we have to remove our opinions, life experiences and many times what makes sense to us out of the equation — at least in the heat of the moment.
We should avoid scolding, teaching, sharing how we have a better idea, etc., in the middle of a stressful experience. Being present, helping with exactly what the overwhelmed person has outlined and staying focused on the situation at hand is the best way to help.
It’s already hard enough to allow someone to help, but I can promise there will be even more of a hesitancy in the future if the offer to help comes with a price.
It’s true that we all can work on better life management to plan for and avoid intense situations in many cases, but we’ll never be able to control every circumstance in life so we also must learn to adapt when our day doesn’t go as planned.
And in all cases we should remember others are carrying heavy loads as well.
I recently read about a man who always put others ahead of himself. Even in traffic he would let others merge ahead of him “because where they are going is just as important as where I’m going.”