What Your Overwhelm Might Be Trying to Tell You


Something I hear over and over again from the women I meet is that they often feel overwhelmed. And, of course, it makes sense that so many of us experience overwhelm. We’re smart, passionate people who want to take good care of the things that matter to us, and there are so many of those things! Kids, partners, jobs, hobbies, health, fun. Then add in constantly pinging phones, inboxes, social media accounts and the general information overload happening. Add a dash of something unexpected like a sick kid or a leaking roof and it’s enough to make you feel like you might be drowning.

If you look up the definition of overwhelm in the dictionary, it is not pretty. You get words like, submerge, massacre, engulf, bury, and deluge. And let’s not forget clobber, devastate, and dumbfound. Sheesh.

And that’s what the experience of it feels like – like there is so much coming at you that you are drowning, you are powerless, you are rendered incapable of even thinking clearly. Which makes overwhelm extremely tricky, because how can you work with something that basically takes you down for the count?

It is possible to get clarity on your overwhelm and to make it a sensation that you no longer—or only very rarely–experience. A great place to start is looking at what your overwhelm might be trying to tell you. Here are three very good possibilities. Do any of these sound like something that might be happening with you?

  • You’re saying yes to things that aren’t a good fit

You are capable of so much, with one caveat. The things you devote your time and energy to have to be something that are ultimately fulfilling to you. Meaning, they have to fill you up. Otherwise they will deplete you. For example, I joined the parent teacher organization (PTO) this past year, and let me tell you, it is tedious. There are all kinds of bylaws we have to adhere to and conversations about what those bylaws are. We have to sit on tiny little chairs in the school library that’s not heated at night. The money we work so hard to raise doesn’t always get spent in the way we believed it would or should. But I know that I want to be involved in my kids’ school, and so all the tedium is worth it.

If you’re doing something that doesn’t align with what you care about it, you don’t have to do it. Consider this all the permission you need to start planning your exit strategy.

  • You’re not getting enough help

I know some people may read this as “blaming the victim” but here’s the thing, we’re all responsible for asking for what we need. If you’re trying to do everything yourself—because that’s your habit, or you don’t want to be a burden to others, or simply because that’s the way you think it has to be–you’re trying too hard. The people around you are capable of pitching in more.

Get the kids and your spouse to do more. Invite your friends. Hire help! I believe that we all need to outsource much, much more than we currently are so that we can each spend more time doing the things that are most important, impactful, and enjoyable. This is the subject of a future post! My point here is that getting more help starts with your asking for it—don’t ask, don’t get.

  • You’re trying too hard

Wanting to do a great job is such an honorable intention. But trying to constantly knock everything out of the park is exhausting. It’s unsustainable. It’s also unnecessary. You don’t have to be impeccable. All you have to be is present and real—you may not always know the perfect thing to say, but if you’re listening, you’ll always know the next right question to ask. And that is gold.

I’m developing a new resource to help you overcome overwhelm for real, and for good. More about that next week. 🙂 Until then, just know this: You are capable of more than your overwhelm is trying to convince you that you are.


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