Feeling overwhelmed by life is a chronic problem in today’s world. We are bombarded on every side with information overload and unlimited options in all areas of life. Add to that our many responsibilities and the expectations of others, and it’s no wonder we feel overwhelmed!
Nothing affects our productivity as negatively as overwhelm does. When we feel overwhelmed by life, we become paralyzed like a deer caught in the headlights of a car. We have no idea which direction to take.
Many situations cause us to get to this point. I’ve found most fit under one of two causes.
Causes of Feeling Overwhelmed
Cause #1: Being a People Pleaser
I believe God gives us enough time to achieve all He calls us to do. When we feel overwhelmed, it’s because we’re trying to do more than He expects of us. Often, it’s because we’ve added others’ expectations to our calendar in order to gain their approval — attending a particular event, adopting their interests and standards, and molding our lives to look like theirs.
None of us have enough time or energy to add others’ expectations to what God is calling us to do. Something will suffer if we do, including ourselves and those God has appointed us to serve. This is nothing new. The people of Solomon’s day struggled with fear of others’ approval, too:
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” —Proverbs 29:25
Cause #2: Lack of Clarity
When I have clarity about what God wants me to do be doing with my life, I wake up feeling energized. I sit down at my desk in the morning eager to start my workday. After doing my Morning Miracle routine (highly recommended!), I set my Pomodoro timer app on my phone (Focus Keeper) and jump right into those next steps.
I love this quote, because it’s so true:
When all your inner beliefs are aligned there won’t be any inner conflict and you’ll take action – you won’t be able to help it – massive action will happen automatically.” —Tony Robbins
Overwhelm is one of those inner conflicts that prevent our taking action. Feeling overwhelmed should be our first clue that something in our lives is out of alignment. Clarity about what that is clears the feelings of overwhelm and helps us to be productive.
The question is, how do we get that clarity?
3 Steps to Gain Clarity and Overcome Overwhelm
Step #1: Recognize You’re Ready for an “Upgrade”
As we’ve already discovered, overwhelm is an indicator that something needs to change in our lives. Rather than randomly discarding activities in an effort to relieve the overwhelm, let’s look at it in a more positive light.
Graham Cooke helps us see that God uses negative feelings such as overwhelm and frustration to make us aware He has something better for us:
What if frustration is simply God stopping you from walking down a road that He doesn’t want you to walk down. What if frustration is a sign that an upgrade is present, and you need to stop worrying enough to look around and find it?”
Put this way, we can view overwhelm as God’s gift to us, preparing us for a positive change in our lives.
Step #2: Don’t Go it Alone
If we could easily discern what is causing our overwhelm and have clarity about what to do to fix it, we probably wouldn’t be overwhelmed. We need wisdom above our own.
As followers of Jesus, we have the number one Source of wisdom with us at all times — the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 11:2 tells us that the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, and knowledge:
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him—
a Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
a Spirit of counsel and strength,
a Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.”
In the book of James, he instructs us to ask God for wisdom, and He will give it to us:
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.” —James 1:5
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatian Christians that they should “keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). I love the imagery of walking through life with Him and matching my steps to His, much as a child does with his or her parent.
Would the Holy Spirit lead us to a point of overwhelm? Hardly! When we reach that point, it’s because we haven’t been keeping in step with Him. To get back into alignment with Him, we must seek His wisdom, counsel, and knowledge.
Trouble is, we live in a noisy world and find it difficult to discern His voice above all others’. Talking with someone who can help us recognize which voice is His is invaluable. If you don’t have someone you can have this conversation with, I’d be more than happy to talk with you to discern what He’s saying to you.
Step #4 Know When to Say No by Knowing Your Purpose
If the charity my friend is involved with serves a great cause and fills a huge need, shouldn’t I help with it, too? If my sister finds her hobby relaxing and meaningful, shouldn’t I make room for it in my life, too? And what about that seminar my pastor thinks I should go to?
These are just samples of many situations in which having a Life Purpose Statement is invaluable. Does your friend’s charity fit your purpose? Does your sister’s hobby fit your purpose? Is the seminar something that will help you live your purpose?
These activities may fit the purpose for each of these persons to a T. But they may not fit yours at all! A Life Purpose Statement makes it easy to discern what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to.
Are You Ready for that Upgrade?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed then you’re ready for an uprade! Are you ready to gain clarity and discover what God has for you? Remember, what God has for you is not overwhelming. Even though it may be all-consuming, it is invigorating and fulfilling rather than frustrating and overwhelming.
Knowing your Life Purpose is tremendously helpful in finding clarity and overcoming overwhelm. I would love to help you discover yours in a Life Purpose Discovery session. We will explore who God created you to be and what He wants you to do with your life. Together, we will write your Life Purpose Statement which you can use the rest of your life to find clarity and direction and eliminate overwhelm and frustration.
Visit my Life Coaching Services page and let’s get started so that no more time is wasted spinning your wheels. I don’t want you to miss out on receiving the “upgrade” God has for you and thriving in His purpose for you!