Overcoming When You Feel Overwhelmed

The recent fires on Maui have left us all feeling sad, powerless, and overwhelmed. What do you do when you are faced with overwhelming circumstances? How do you rebuild and rebound? For those who have lost loved ones and property, there are no words to describe what they are experiencing. Even for those who are less impacted, the loss of so many lives and homes in Lahaina and Kula, combined with the loss of sacred and historical sites in the once vibrant town of Lahaina, is devastating and hard to put into words. Granted, there are vast and varying degrees of suffering and loss, but we have all lost something. And, we are all experiencing a myriad of emotions. One of the most prevailing and common emotions is the complete sense of overwhelm.

How do you overcome when you feel so overwhelmed? There are no pat answers and everyone has their own journey to healing and recovery, but there are some steps we can take to help us when we feel overwhelmed and we want to overcome. You may not be a victim of the Maui fires, but over the last few years, we’ve all gone through so much. We’ve had to deal with Covid, the pandemic, civil and political unrest, division, changing and challenging markets, and our own personal trials and challenges. Perhaps the first step in overcoming is to see yourself from the right viewpoint. Begin by asking yourself, “Am I a victim or am I an overcomer?”

If you are paralyzed and don’t quite know what to do, try to think of yourself as an overcomer instead of a victim, or even a survivor. I know, it’s easier said than done, but to a large degree we are what we think. I’m sure you’ve heard it said, “Change your thoughts, change your world.” We know that positive thinking and healthy perspectives can actually improve our health and our well-being. Right thinking can help us overcome negative circumstances and experiences.

There are actually many things we can do to overcome adversity. To.Be.Overcomers. Here are just a few suggestions:

  1. Pray and meditate. Prayer and meditation allow us to be still and to be present. They strengthen us and empower us to overcome difficult situations.
  2. Practice relaxation techniques. Breathe deeply. Listen to relaxing music. Take a pause and slow your roll (and your mind) down. We can overcome a lot when we’re quiet and have a sound mind.
  3. Avoid things that trigger negative thoughts, like scrolling through social media and watching too much news. Instead, focus your thoughts on that which is good and praiseworthy. As much as possible, look for the goodness in people and circumstances.
  4. Consider each experience, good or bad, as a lesson and an opportunity to grow. Perseverance builds character and to be an Overcomer, you’ll need strong character. Strong character will help you weather any storm.
  5. Develop self-awareness to identify patterns that cause wrong-thinking. Stop ruminating on the things you can’t control. Be brutally realistic about your circumstances, but remain hopeful. Overcomers always have hope.
  6. Journal. Writing down your thoughts helps you to create order when your life is in chaos. Writing about stressful and traumatic events can significantly benefit your physical and emotional health and help you to overcome challenges.
  7. Talk to someone. If you are feeling overwhelmed, talk to a trusted friend, coach, therapist, or pastor. Talking provides stress relief, and talking about a problem can help to break it into small parts and keep you from feeling so overwhelmed.     

What happened on Maui and to those who are suffering so much will require a lot more than a few steps on learning how to overcome adversity. We should never minimize the magnitude of their loss or pain. But, there are steps all of us can take when we feel overwhelmed. Steps that will help us to find strength and to be Overcomers.

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